African Music Encyclopedia


Cecile Kayirebwa


Cecile Kayirebwa, born in Kigali, Rwanda, in 1946, paid close attention to the traditional music of her heritage from an early age. Only 15 and still just a schoolgirl, she became one of the founding members of the Rwanda Song and Dance Circle. This association prompted her to begin composing and singing and she soon began appearing on occasional broadcasts on Radio Rwanda. Later on, in her official capacity as a welfare officer, she began to be exposed to people in the many different regions of Rwanda. This experience, coupled with her formative years, led to her lifelong interest in her traditional Rwandan culture.

In 1983 Kayirebwa traveled to Terveuren, Belgium where she studied traditional music at the Royal Museum of Central Africa. One year later she joined the Belgium-based African band, Bula Sangoma, with whom she continues to record with today.

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