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Virginia Mukwesha

Dancer, vocalist and instrumentalist, Virginia Mukwesha is from Zimbabwe. Notably she is the daughter of Stella Chiweshe, the Queen of Mbira, which makes her rightfully a princess! Her wider family are marizambira, meaning herbalists, midwives and spirit mediums. Taking this further Virginia is a member of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association. Growing up in the rural areas Virginia heard her mother play mbira night and day. She herself had a natural talent for mbira as well as dancing and playing hosho (rattles) from a very young age. She turned professional at age 12.
Virginia's main style of music is called jiti, Zimbabwe's equivalent of rock n roll, and she took part in jiti moonshine teenage parties. In these songs the teenagers joke and insult each other while dancing and singing. Traditionally jiti features drums, hosho, handclaps and call-and-response vocals. Having matured, Virginia has now got her own style of urban jiti which uses the same rhythm but adds marimba, electric guitars and drums. Sometimes she performs solo and other times with her band Jit Dance Express.
Mbira songs have traditionally covered topics of poverty, war and suffering but Virginia sings of joy in a style known as mbira sunungukai, meaning 'music to free your heart'. Her songs also contain messages against racism and violence and encourage women to speak out from their hearts, laying bare their emotions and feelings.

As well as performing Virginia holds dancing and singing workshops. Another of her achievements was to write the script for and co-produce a film entitled Rambisayi - Music of the Ancestors. She spends time living in Germany and in Zimbabwe.
Virginia has toured worldwide with her mother Stella Chiweshe and also on her own since the 1980s, so is well known internationally. She has performed at Purcell Rooms and The Spitz in London (see photo above), Sfinks, Weltnacht and Masala festivals.
Virginia can be heard on Stella Chiweshe's albums and her own albums so far are Chamu (1995), Matare (1996), Tsika (1999), Farai and Nzira. Listen and you are bound to be captivated by Virginia's music!