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.
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 Cécile
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
Hearing that her mother was ill Cécile
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.
songs transcend the various people in her home country and are
accompanied by traditional instruments such as the umuduri and
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.
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.
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
with music composed by Dario Marianelli.