Sadly, Chartwell died on 22 September 2019.
He is much missed. By us and by everyone else.
Chartwell started playing mbira when he was four years old at the protected village, Kagande, about two hours drive from Harare where his family was moved by the Salvation Army missionaries during the Chimurenga. Even though the missionaries had banned traditional music, he learned to play from his brother and other village elders. His mother also encouraged him through her singing of traditional songs.
As a teenager Chartwell moved to the capital, Harare, and became saxophonist with the Salvation Army band. A little later, in 1986, he joined Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited. Touring the world for eight years with that band, he was their arranger, mbira player and saxophonist.
From 1994 until his death in 2019, Chartwell based himself in Britain where he continued to teach and play mbira.
Chartwell had academic qualifications in music, including a degree in Ethnomusicology from SOAS in London where he also taught for many years.
Chartwell’s solo album, released in 2000, is entitled ‘Voices of Ancestors’. He also has several recordings in which he plays with the band Spirit Talk Mbira: Ndonga Mahwe (1997), Nhimbe (1999), Dzoro (2000), and Taanerimwe.
Chartwell also worked with Serenoa String Quartet to combine classical string quartet style with traditional African music.
A week prior to his death he was awarded an Honorary PhD from Bath Spa University. His dissertation was entitled ‘The Power of the Voices of the Ancestors: Mbira Music of Zimbabwe’.