Cecile 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 Cécile, her husband and children fled to safety in Belgium where she has been based since then. In 1975 Cécile was part of a musical group called Inyange 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.

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. During her tours Cécile worked 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.

2016 saw the diva the digital release of her first full length album in over 10 years – URUKUMBUZI was released by her own non-for-profit organisation CEKA I RWANDA asbl.

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