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Global Divas perform at Stanford March 7

Folkloric strains of the Andes, Spanish flamenco, African rhythms and frisky Mexican string-band music will share the stage when the Global Divas bring their eclectic blends to Memorial Auditorium at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 7.

The performance is presented by Stanford Lively Arts and is made possible in part by the California Arts Council, the Western States Arts Federation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tickets are $28, $25 and $23, with discounts for students and for children under 15, and can be purchased at the Stanford Ticket Office or by calling 725-ARTS, (408) 998-BASS or (510) 762-BASS.

The three musicians who comprise Global Divas ­ Susana Baca, Stella Chiweshe and Tish Hinojosa ­ also will participate in a panel discussion of "Women's Issues in International Music" from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at the Women's Center. The panel discussion is free and open to the public.

Baca grew up in Peru, a country that long denied its African heritage. Thanks in part to her work with, and rendition of, Afro-Peruvian music, it now is recognized in music circles around the world. The New York Times says that "her cool, distinct voice . . . has the strength to create its own tradition."

Baca's lyrics are taken from contemporary poets and her instruments of choice include guitar and bass, plus an assortment of gourds, donkey's jaws and panpipes. With her partner, Ricardo Pereira, Baca founded the Center for the Black Continuum, which is dedicated to developing Afro-Peruvian music and dance.

"Afro-Peruvian songs are laments and tell a lot of history," Baca says. "But I don't want to sing only those songs. I'm a woman of this time also, a woman of now.

"I don't want to be known only as an ethnic singer," she adds. "I am a black woman ­ those are my roots and I acknowledge them ­ but there's this other, modern side as well."

Zimbabwe's Stella Rambisai Chiweshe plays one of the most sacred instruments of southern Africa, the Shona people's mbira dza vadzimu, a small metal-pronged hand piano used in traditional ceremonies to draw the attention of spirit mediums. By bringing the art of mbira from the villages of her homeland to the capitals of the world, Chiweshe shattered a long-standing barrier that prohibited women from playing the instrument.

As a member of the National Dance Company in the late 1980s, Chiweshe performed as a dancer and singer, and in recent years she has recorded with her group, the Earthquake Band, and an acoustic trio. In 1993, she founded Mother Earth Trust, a network of women artists in Zimbabwe.

"Mbira is booming today, and now there are little girls who want to play," she says. "It should be played by everybody."

As the youngest of 13 children born to Mexican immigrants in the border region of South Texas, Tish Hinojosa has combined the cultural heritage of cowboys, European descendants and Native Americans with influences of rock, folk and country to create a distinctive voice.

"Music captivated my attention from my earliest memories," she says. "There was the Mexican radio that always played in my mom's kitchen, the pop radio in my sister's bedroom, and the music of my sister who was a classically trained singer and piano player."

Today Hinojosa sings in English and Spanish, traveling with a small acoustic group and her band. She says the music she has recorded for major commercial and independent labels pays tribute to country, western swing and the conjunto styles of the Mexican border region.


By Diane Manuel

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