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Cécile Kayirebwa

Supreme Rwandan vocalist Cécile was born in Kigali in 1946 and had a peaceful childhood growing up in the country known as 'Land of a thousand hills'. At school in the 1950s she was part of a singing group called Circle of Rwandan Song and Dance - their work was broadcast on Radio Rwanda. Cécile had a very strong interest in finding the origins of Rwandan music and she pursued that during her employment as a social worker after leaving school. She felt determined that Rwandan music should be preserved and shared worldwide. She began to compose songs, including a praise song for Rwandan Queen Rosali.
War broke out in Rwanda in 1973 and C
écile and her husband fled to safety in Belgium where she has been based since then. In 1975 Cécile was part of a musical group called Iyange for 5 years, then she studied Rwandan heritage at the Royal Museum of Central Africa. In 1984 she joined another group, Bula Sangoma, with whom she toured Europe and America and recorded an album. Cécile followed that in 1987 with a concert tour of Rwanda and Uganda with the Ingeli orchestra including a party for King Mutara III.
Hearing that her mother was ill C
écile travelled to Rwanda in 1988 although the process of getting there took so long that she didn't arrive before her mother had already died.
Cécile's songs transcend the various people in her home country and are accompanied by traditional instruments such as the umuduri and ikembe. Cécile contributed to
a short film 'Umulisa' (1986). She recorded several cassettes and the 4th one, Ubumanzi, (1990) was the most acclaimed was released in 1990. On her album Rwanda (1994) the lyrics cover topics such as family situations, the beauty of Rwanda, and lullabies.

Cécile found time during her tours to work on an album entitled Amahoro, meaning Peace, which she released in 2002. Her CD released in 2005, Ibihozo, consists of lullabies, love songs and songs about separation, filled with nostalgia.
When Cécile tours, she spreads awareness of Rwandan culture. She participated in important festivals such as the first Pan African Festival of Dance held in Kigali, Rwanda in 1998, and a year later, the 'Robben Island Event' held in Cape Town, South Africa, and at WOMAD in 2001. Cécile also performed for awareness events such as the 2001 'Holocaust Memorial Event' held in London, United Kingdom, and 'Action against AIDS' organized by the African First Ladies in Kigali, Rwanda. Fittingly, Cécile's haunting vocals contribute to the soundtrack of the 2006 film 'Shooting Dogs', with music composed by Dario Marianelli.
Cécile's web site