Harmony Singers host Gonzaga Chamber Singers (USA)

Harmony Singers host Gonzaga Chamber Singers (USA)

Its not everyday when the earthy and heavy african vocals meet with the well formed premier sounds of a chamber choir from the United States of America to produce a show, such as never been seen before in the country. If you are a music lover, the Unclouded: Music for hope Zim/USA is moving evidence of an existence of great  choral movement within the country that deserves due recognition and must have every Zimbabwean proud and excited. I wouldn’t miss it if I were you.

Zimbabweans are extremely lucky and they just haven’t realised it yet. On Friday the 3oth of May, this Chitungwiza based choir, straight from the dusty streets will collaborate in a show with the Gonzaga Chamber Singers in a music show that will not only be a chance to bring together two unique group of voices but celebrate a choral music movement in the country that has far too long been suppressed and played second fiddle to many other music forms that have been given precedence.

I am blessed to have witnessed, in my lifetime, a choir that has achieved as much as the Chitungwiza Harmony Singers and yet is still just an ordinary choral group with very little musical status such as that which is given any other artist like Oliver Mtukudzi. If anyone deserved such high recognition, this would have been my number 1 choice of choir.

Friday the 30th of May will once again mark a great day in the choirs history as they sing alongside this premier ‘choral ensemble consisting of 26-28 voices drawn from the Gonzaga University Choir whose choral literature focuses on chamber works that are unaccompanied or with chamber accompaniment. Some of their major performances include concerts and national and international tours such as spring 2010 where the Chamber Singers performed in Shanghai and Beijing on its China tour.’ (GU website)

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The Gonzaga University Concert Choir. Members of the Chamber Chorus are traditionally drawn from the Concert Choir. GU photo by Edward Bell

Their African tour has seen them travel to Zambia and the finale tone marked for Zimbabwe with CHS at the National Art Gallery for what should be a great unmissable show. During their tour of these two neighbouring countries, Gonzaga has participated in musical exchanges and performances with high school and university choirs, sang at Masses and other public venues. Timothy Westerhaus (director and voice coach) developed the choir’s first intercultural exchange and engagement tour in 2015 in Bogotá and Cali, Colombia, one of the first U.S. collegiate choir tours in the region.’ (According to Gonzaga website).

CHS is a choir that has not only stood the test of time since its creation in 1993 by the late, award winning Israel Dzangare but has produced three albums, collaborated with various artists within the country and has achieved repetitive success within regional competitions traditionally held in South Africa and hosted by Old Mutual. In 2016, for the first time ever, they were solely responsible for bringing the Limpopo version of the competitions to Harare which is a result of hard work and growth from within the choir resulting in the formation of other choral groups.

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Chitungwiza Harmony in concert. Pic (CHS Facebook page)

Here is a snippet of the rehearsal just to wet your appetite and if this doesn’t move to be at the National Art Gallery in Harare at 6pm, then no other music will.

Where is Tocky and his Vibes?

Where is Tocky and his Vibes?

The last time I saw a Tocky Vibes show I almost vomited. I can still taste the bitter after taste. A mashed attempt of a performance that I regretted paying for and with all the push around his artistry, I was left to wonder if he was indeed the ‘king’ he crowned himself to be or just the hit and run, half baked mediocre artist everyone fears falling in love with and inevitably loath.

Even his Facebook post dated 24 May says it all, “… get ready for new projects”, a statement that can easily be an attempt to wet an appetite of the many sympathisers who might just have lost interest.

His last album in 2016, Tirabhuru, poorly received compared to his first offerings should be an eye opener. No one paid attention to it as if it never exists. Zimbabwe’s diverse audience has no loyalty to a brand or artist and two years is a huge amount of time to leave them waiting. With the music scene awash with new players penetrating into the hearts of many music lovers hoping to keep them hooked, it is really a battle for top honours and a race to the crown. At the moment, Tocky is nowhere near contention,

Vibes could have easily remained afloat with his soulful and loveable ballads that favoured no gender or age. He had grown folk falling for his artistry while the youths saw him as a somewhat musical messiah. Many of his peers, who through the ills begotten by the country, needing no politician or international aid but words of encouragement from one fellow ghetto boy to the other have sought refuge in his lyrics. It is an all too familiar rags to riches story from the boy who was born in a ghetto called Rugare, a stone throw away from Kambuzuma where Winky D was born, defying the odds and singing his way into the hearts of many. But, could he slipping and giving way to many others?

It seems, judging by the works produced by his main rival, Winky D, that he has all but lost the battle.

At 24, surely he has a bright future ahead of him but runs the risk of dwindling into obscurity and needing a search party to rescue. One can only wait for so long without a production and I simply cannot stand his experimentation of sound even with afro jazz and other genres.

The show I mentioned in the beginning of this piece saw him receive a beer can or two in his face after he attempted to dazzle and croon his way out of a much hyped new year’s gig with some mbira, drum and almost trance like performance whilst seated on a huge chair with no socks on! He soon realised the paying mob hath fury.

A part of me wants to give him time, he could soon be back on our playlists again, with a dash of self-revelation. True musicians are not hurried into producing a track, infact the greatest music has been made by investing enough time on it. However, may artists have sunk deeper into oblivion by try to surpass their previous works and losing a footing in the race. He simply has to work on avoiding the latter.

There is a somewhat mediocre bone lodged in his musical anatomy. He has the ability to create great work such as similar to many great artists that have graced the country before him if he searches deep enough within himself. Some of his tracks have simply been too much a lean towards the feel and make of his hit song, Mhai.

I can simply deduce a great artist by the frequency to make hit songs (well thats how we all can) and for him to fall into this category, he has to go beyond just spending time in the studio and creating quality masterpieces. Today’s artists lack professional coaching, a musical ear during their creation processes and constructive critiques. Many have gone on to produce music under the influences of various other stuff including their eagerness to receive radio play and popularity, which is the deadliest form of motivation to any musician.

For long the country has been described as the reggae nation but I guess the many artists that have assumed this genre as a source of living and inspiration have failed to make a single trip to Jamaica as a source of inspiration or study, to get an understanding of where it all began. This I think is a must do in any true and genuine reggae artist.

The Zim-ragga music space is the largest in terms of revenue and following and as such many artists have emerged and are making a living out of it. Yearly, millions of dollars are spent on producing, marketing and performance of the genre, much loved by Zimbabweans all over the world. Their constant appetite for the music feeds these artists into creating more music and such is the circle of life.

Barely four years after his emergence, asking the question of whether he is still relevant might be a bit debatable but I am convinced he has pockets of musical genius in him that he needs dig deep to find within himself to once again come to charm the many of his lovers.

Time will tell.

 

How did Jah Prayzer win this one?

How did Jah Prayzer win this one?

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The MAMA’s have come and gone, another year’s edition is past; the country will rest a while before the hullabaloo erupts once again next year. Congratulations are in order for all those who went up the stage to accept an award and these artists once again have proven that, as a continent, we are not far away from international appeal but in fact in a zone of our own and we need to move parallel to rather than chase after international acclaim. We have a vibe of our own and we need to nurture it to grow it to its highest level.

I can’t help but admire the passion that is going through African music and the amount of effort our artists are putting into arranging wonderful lyrics, choreography, video creations and rehearsals, it is admirable and much appreciated. Just the kind of stuff that cheers you up about our continent, our love for the party while we pretend to forget, just for a while, about the socio-economic problems that bedevil us.

Understandably, we all cannot be politicking, in a melting pot of corruption, wars, terrorists, hunger and poverty it is refreshing to forget how stupid a president we have or how the state has been captured by a group of individuals with so much money more than some smaller countries or how many girls have been returned by the Boko Haram in Nigeria so far and how we need all of them back.

So for one night we turn our eyes away and dance and celebrate African music, no matter how it may seem like Nigerians sing more and win the awards more. I used to think, South Africans sing better than any other nation in Africa but I guess the MAMA’s have shown us otherwise.

Awards in Africa are not as they are in Europe, artists here start a career with monetary returns in mind not a full trophy cabinet. It is a culture that was made popular with western music promoters venturing into the lucrative and virgin land of African music. And so we are getting the hang of it, we dress up and have our pictures taken one night and we hope our favourite artists win more awards than any other. It’s a moment a lot of musicians boast about, probably in their next song, but what does it really translate to? How are these awards generated and does an award indicate a bright future or a good past season in song?

“The nominations in the music categories are selected by the MAMA “academy”, a group of music industry opinion formers and tastemakers from across the African continent who create a shortlist based on the artists and musicians who have received airplay on the channel between (21 March 2015 and 23 August 2016).” According to the ticketprodome.co.za who hosted this year’s event.

“The winners in 15 MAMA categories are chosen by music fans and viewers voting online at www.mtvbase.com and affiliated Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.” The website says.

Understanding the way the awards works is really getting to grasp the mountain that these artists have to climb in order to actually win the award.

I wanted to imagine what it would take for an artist in Zimbabwe, up against 21 African artists could have possibly won the listeners choice award considering the land locked country only has 14 million people compared to Nigeria which has 12 times more at 173.6 million.

Just to refresh your mind, here is the population within the countries, Jah Prayzer was up against.

  • Adiouza (Senegal)                             14.3 mil
  • Bebe Cool (Uganda)                         37.5 mil
  • Burna Boy (Nigeria)                         173.6 mil
  • Kiss Daniel (Nigeria)
  • Den G (Liberia)                                4.2 mil
  • EL (Ghana)                                      25.9 mil
  • Jah Prayzah (Zimbabwe)                   14.15 mil
  • Jay Rox (Zambia)                             14.54 mil
  • Kansoul (Kenya)                               44.35 mil
  • Lij Michael (Ethiopia)                       94.1 mil
  • LXG (Sierra Leone)                          6 mil
  • Meddy (Rwanda)                              11.8 mil
  • Messias Marioca (Mozambique)                 25.8 mil
  • Prince Kaybee (South Africa)             52.9 mil
  • Reda Taliani (Algeria)                      39.2 mil
  • Saad Lamjarred (Morocco)                33 mil
  • Sabri Mosbah (Tunisia)                    10.8 mil
  • Sidiki Diabate (Mali)                        15.3 mil
  • Tamer Hosny (Egypt)                        82 mil
  • The Dogg (Namibia)                        2.3 mil
  • Yamoto Band (Tanzania)                49.2 mil

 

Now I am not really an awards person and neither am I a huge fan of the genre that Jah Prayzer sings in (whatever you decide to call I don’t really care) but I loved the fact that he won. What he lacks in being a complete musician, he makes up through his wardrobe, choreography and video productions. Hugely disappointed that he couldn’t make it to come and say a few words or two after his name was called but that’s understandable, we all have had stage fright before (I almost fainted half way during a song performance) but certainly not Jah who has graced many stages in his life, this is the kind of moment he needed to show all us haters, fans and sexual assault accusers that he is on top of his game.

Enough said, before we digress, I had to find out how he won the award!

Firstly, did the other countries vote or they didn’t like the nominations put before them for their own representatives? It is still baffling to note that amongst the nominations, Zimbabwe only has five countries with a lower population than theirs and 16 other have more. Consequently more viewers and voters I believe and this is, Ceteris paribus, a higher population delivers more votes and voters.This would be true if each country was voting for their own nominations, which I think is what happens in this case.

Secondly, if we are to look at the figures above, are we then to say, with the way Nigerians love their music and are almost recognisable because of their braggadocio, that there were not going to vote for their two nominations and concede defeat to a newcomer, an artist they don’t even have exposure to? Did they vote at all or their cast was lost somewhere between the casting and the counting, after all we are in Africa and rigging elections is what we know best.

To many reading this, you might be regarding this as using this platform to spread my hatred for Prayzer but NO! I am merely trying to understand what is the basis of getting a Listeners award and how he did it with very few followers and fans as compared to Burna Boy and Prince Kaybee, Was the cast set aside and awarded on the basis of adding variety to the winners rather than a true reflection their so called listener’s choice? I seem to be asking more questions than providing answers here but then this is my blog, I write what I feel.

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Prince Kaybee
burna-boy
Burna Boy

Given that this was the first time such as award had been given out, I am tempted to assume the organisers wanted to simply put the category on the spotlight, encouraging more votes the next time the nominees are put forward and to have people asking the question, who is Jah Prayzer? Surely being nominated means he deserved to win but the question still remains, did he really have more listeners dancing to ‘mudhara vachauya’ than all those artists? Is the vote based on current trends within a particular country? If so he would have deserved the award because of late he has been upping his game and giving artists a run for their money. Or maybe (this is a good one) votes casts were judged against a country’s population and given a percentage and whichever artist had the higher percentage of listeners for him won the award? In this scenario, Jah could have only prevailed because he has a huge listenership against the population in Zimbabwe and could have outsmarted the other artists in this manner.

In the end, its just my mind running wild, there are many questions and many subjects of conversations pertaining to the MAMA’s this year but its all behind us now, we celebrate, object and in the end have to respect what has been done, viva African music

 

What are your thoughts on the awards, let me know…..

Read more on the awards and who has won it before on the following links:

2015: http://www.okayafrica.com/news/mtv-africa-music-awards-2015-winners/

2014: http://tooxclusive.com/news/winners-mama-mtv-africa-music-awards-2014/

2010: http://jaguda.com/2010/12/12/mtv-africa-music-awards-mama-2010-winners-pictures/

2009: http://www.naijarules.com/index.php?threads/mtv-africa-music-awards-2009-winners.34953/

2008: https://www.bellanaija.com/2008/11/mtv-africa-music-awards-mamas-winners-photos/

 

 

 

Its a ‘Winky’ from me to ‘D’!

Its a ‘Winky’ from me to ‘D’!

Its been on repeat since I downloaded the full album from links I got from a friend. I do support buying but in this day and age you gotta have a taste of it before investing, right? I am sure we have had disappointing buys which you cannot even re-sale. That said, I was safe as the whole album was being given for free on the Facebook page or simply on this following link  http://smarturl.it/Listen-GafaFuti-Full.

Zimbabweans are reggae lovers, the country was born with it. Bob Marley is I guess the greatest musician to have ever graced the country especially at a time when we were celebrating freedom from our oppressors. To have such a huge icon pen a song for the country was like gifting us with eternal reggae publicity and consequently love for the genre. Winky D returns the favour in naming one of his songs Bob Marley, which I think is cool from an artist who took a lot from the icon.

Enough of me trying to give you an introduction to my subject matter of today and head straight into how I am loving the new Winky D album, Gafa Futi. I am not entirely well adapt to Zim-dancehall lingo and so I had a few questions about what he sings about and I guess and a lot of people where clueless when he says ‘GAFA’ and ‘EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL” and showbiz.com made me understand a bit though I didn’t really get it (was not that apt in mathematics).

Besides his confusing explanations, I still went along to enjoy the album. I will probably be crucified by a lot of fans but he did stray from true reggae beats and married his album with some Afro beats as on the track Hooray. A wedding song which I believed could have not been done any other way (not a lot of ragga artists sing about weddings and the dancehall beat does not really cater for down the isle moments) It didn’t however reduce the sweetness of his whole offering. I was however impressed by his continued efforts to sing about issues that affect us daily.

Twenty Five is one song that I related to as we have been faced with the reality of unemployment against having the best education in world. How the degreed masses have been reduced to gamblers in search of any source of income to feed families. He goes on to encourage everyone to go on doing what can alleviate their situation as we can but only try.

I must give him so much proper recognition as he has taken his music a step further. Most artists in the country fail to come up with meaningful lyrics with content that shows our education levels. I never knew he would sing about karma, extraterrestrial and attempt a collaboration with Oliver Mtukudzi. That to me shows pure genius, not to mention that Tuku was only relegated into doing the intro guitar, chorus and fill ins in the song. The whole song remained his while the elder simply flowed along. I guess that means no huge worry when performing this one, Samanyanga will just be on cd!

The song itself incites a lot of emotions and I believe there was much thought process to have such a hit, well maybe not much, as the two are songwriters that have excelled.

I’m still perplexed as to his choice to offer the album free of charge on the internet though. I guess its because there is next to nothing album sales in Zimbabwe and buying it from a vendor on the street shows you have no internet connection good enough for the download or simply put it, a relic.

Another day to discuss whether he has moved religious camp, I wish people could just stop the labelling and judging. Remember, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” Matthew 7:1

A good offering from the young man, what we expect from his level and I guess the problem is in the next one he has to follow up with. In the meantime, happy free listening!

You can listen to Winky D’s new album GAFA FUTI from links below

1: Happiest Man – http://smarturl.it/Happiest-Man_down
2: Bob Marley – http://smarturl.it/BobMarleyFuneral-d
3: Gafa Party(Toi Toi) – http://smarturl.it/GafaParty-down
4: Extraterrestrial – http://smarturl.it/Extraterrestrial-d
5: Twenty Five – http://smarturl.it/TwentyFive-down
6: Panorwadza Moyo – http://smarturl.it/PanorwadzaMoyo-down
7: Karma – http://smarturl.it/Karma-down
8: Photo Life – http://smarturl.it/PhotoLife-down
9: Hooray – http://smarturl.it/Hooray-down
10: Bhebhi raMwari – http://smarturl.it/BhebhiRaMwari-down
11: Mwendamberi – http://smarturl.it/Mwendamberi-down
12: Daddy – http://smarturl.it/Daddy-down

You can listen the full album here http://smarturl.it/Listen-GafaFuti-Full

 

 

Roki calls fan a.. hole, drops mic and exits stage right! Just Perfect!

Roki calls fan a.. hole, drops mic and exits stage right! Just Perfect!

Despite my best intentions not to pen this one, out of respect of not wanting to kick a man who’s already down, I couldn’t keep my fingers from my keyboard. Like magnet on steel, my fingers were pulled to construct the following escapade (which I could have avoided) by my simple dislike of mediocre musicians and music; especially that from an artist (word on the street says is) on the run from a recent almost fatal wife battering situation back in Zimbabwe.

Despite my best intentions of what I call a great weekend, you know, the type that you just chill with loved ones, braii and get drunk from your own supply, I was convinced by an in-law of mine to visit club Alicat in Randburg where Roki was performing. So I gathered up the little love I have for the genre that has seen us Zimbos go nowhere than become a closed off island within the world music scene (the so called “urban grove”) and tagged along to a performance by the babymaker.

So I went in there feeling that the best way was to inebriate myself as to be incapable of any form of critique which the crowd beside had since got tired of. All I needed to do was get high and “we gon be alright”, I sang to myself.

The club is well placed and I loved the vibe, we often don’t have a lot of places where we are free to be ourselves and as expatriates we have often been left with no option than to dance to the tunes we hardly relate to. So every home tune that dropped, I got down and broke a sweat moving to Winky D and Tuku, much to the puzzlement of my fellow revellers who hardly new the song.

You see, there are the reasons why I was in this place and all they were eager to see was Roki. I strongly feel he is past his time. He used to sing once but lost it somewhere between the many wives, substance abuse and lack of management. I certainly didn’t want to waste my hard earned money paying to see him try to perform. I ended up parting with a few coins to enter the club (seriously his show was worth 20rands) and it didn’t hurt after all.

By the time he performed, in the early hours of the morning, a few fans had filtered through and started to chant his name. I had by then exhausted myself dancing to mixes curtesy of Dj Hustle, who left me wanting more before he had to mix and play host to the on-the-run (still in the grapevine) artist.

The show kicked off as if it were a conversation between two friends, nothing spectacular to it. I had gathered enough information to know that it was not his show but rather he had been offered a slot within Dj Hustle’s slot. Such a good gesture from the young man who I found very talented but could have lost a good amount of money paying homage to a fallen hero in Zim’s musical scene.

When Roki went on stage, he introduced himself. I guess he thought it was wiser but wait, he had to because there was no MC in the place. I still felt it was ridiculously planned. After he managed to get the crowd to listen, he attempted to sing his first song and it ended there, in an attempt. The following part of the small part of his show was either him screeching to his high notes (Lord knows how he pulled them off at one time) or something going wrong with the backtrack and Dj. I understand music genres and this “urban grove” is not ideal for cueing over and over again unlike ragga music. He kept wanting to talk to the crowd and sing which he failed dismally. One could have easily picked up that this was not a show rehearsed and out of the braggadocio of the man himself, he thought he could pull it off  but could not.

In an attempt to bring back the crowd in control, which by now could have been throwing tomatoes if they had and were getting bored by his repeat of the same song every time he sang one line, he lashed out at one fan and after a few exchanges went down the stage as if to beat up (something we have heard he is good at) the unhappy fan.

I was now even more interested in the show than I was initially and had moved closer and so when the incident occurred it was in full view. I believe the words he used cursing the lady fan is the five letter word too vulgar to write here but excessively used by taxi conductors (ma whindi) back home. That word our mothers can never hear us say to anyone and is a strong reference to the end of our large intestines, externally.

“M@#*a yako!”

I believe the english translation would be that word which also refers to a cross breed between a donkey, horse and a hole! Just trying to keep my page clean as much as I can guys, you will forgive me for being not too blunt.

After this altercation, the show painfully ended much to the disgruntlement of the handful of fans in this small establishment. And despite a poorly disguised attempts to bring in his old friend, Dj Duse (pronounced as orange juice) who is now trying a hand in rapping, nothing came out of it except trying to calm down a few drunken fellas who were starting a row just close to the stage.

By this time I had completely convinced my travelling companions that we had wasted our money ( well, not really) and that my predictions of a guaranteed poor show had come to light.

In the end, Roki, whose real name is Rockford Josphat, had been relegated to the Dj box and looked like he was fixing a problem or two but was really just happy to hang out with the dj spinning the records. After the altercation, he was happy to promise the fans more but all knew what that meant and we sadly trickled out the same we did coming in.

It was a night out that turned too bad for my in-law who so badly wanted a great performance from Roki, but nothing turned out.

There have been many rise and falls within the music industry but none so rough, rocky and bouncy like that of Roki’s. He has seen it all and I believe if there is a music god above, looking out for him, he has certainly lost his willingness to heed the urban groover’s call. He is the epitome of being washed up and resembles nothing of his former self. It is sad to see him in such a state for he had promise at one time when Winky D was just a TV presenter. How things change.

I thought then during the show, how and autobiography of Roki would be good to read but then too sad for a lot of fans he is blessed to have. well, maybe another day.

 

Zimbabwean music is dead?

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For a long time I have been meaning to write this piece. I was stuck in an ambivalence of whether it would come out as a good piece of writing or simply a vent of my own anger to something I hold dearly in my life. I was (and still am) not sure how my thoughts on the matter below would be treated by the many music lovers in my home.

Well, I decided, since I have my own blog, I might as well. I mean, thats why I created it in the first place. Besides the hunger in my ears to hear something musically uplifting and great, it is the cold outside keeping me inside the house. And with time on my hands,  why not share with you my thoughts on the dying industry in my country and my opinion on how we can wake it from the slumber it has taken.

In a few years from now, Zimbabwe’s music industry will be dead.

There will be no ‘worth-the-listen’ musician in this land but remnants of times gone by when it was ‘promising’. I put that in inverted commas because it was such like building a rocket that looked beatiful in all appearances but failed to launch because the engine and turbines could not fire. Such is what befell upon us.

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And in a few years from now, there will be no internationally recognised artist that will command great listernership and produce great works of art such as that we have experienced, seasonally, in the past. At present, we pride ourselves with one relic from the past, Oliver Mtukudzi who has had more than 50 albums to his repetoire. With him gone (this is not a jinx on his life in anway whatsoever) there will be nothing to write home about.

He still remains, as if he is the last surviving pillar in a heavily dilaptidated house, that connects us to a greater music heights. Inevitably, his removal from the scene, will see a total destruction of a music scene that once was, on the brink of thriving.

Today it is just a shadow of what it was, a pure waste of time and effort.

I grew up with music, our house had much of it. My dad’s collection, Led Zeppellin, Billy Segal, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Stimela, just to name a few, made up my foundation of knowing true quality music when its played.

Zimbabwean music wasn’t as far off always, we had our moments.

When ‘Bundu Boys opened for Madonna for three nights at Wembley Stadium in 1987 playing to a crowd of 240 000 at the personal request of the Material Girl herself’ According to a report from Allmusic.com, it seemed we were set as a music powerhouse. Sadly, it was short lived. The Guardian described the band as overnight start and a fall, ‘ equally dizzying’

It might be the fact that the lead singer for the greatest band ever to emerge from the country, hung himself? Is it too scary and weird when you make it to the top of world music? We can never know. The quick rise and fall, still haunt us to date.

The fact of the matter is this, all the artists we ever had before that showed promise, only did so as far as within the region and continent. Having shows in Europe and US sadly does not guarantee the music to be of top notch and if Tuku stops singing today with all his African recognition, the small ray of light he holds will be exstinguished.

Efforts from bands like Mokoomba can be felt, only time can tell. The rest however, need to either forget the whole trade or simply continue to forge an existance through their music by playing within the country and region for lousy earnings. Which does us no good at all.

The main problem is this. Upcoming Zimbabwean musicians want to be too sophisticated, but they fail. Their brand of urban hip hop and rap music is mediocre and cannot compare in anyway to the yardstick measurement of the true origins of these genres. They have created, in their own mind, the same music but blame other external factors for their failure to fly high. I beg to differ. The music is rubbish. There is nothing to it, embarassing to say the least.

I have had this conversation before with friends and colleagues, we all seem to agree upon one thing, creating our own brand like how South Africans created Kwaito. We are stuck on cheap immitations of genres we cant comprehend and it shows by the way none of these so called urban musicians within the country have hardly worked with no one other than themselves.

I have been trying hard not to mention names and stay on my argument as much as I can but allow me to mention a few names that have upheld a true form of mediocrity.

Listening to ExQ (Enoch Munhenga) rap ridicules the art form itself. He talks! And the shallowness of his work is amazing for an artist aiming for the top.

Sanii Makhalima, who has received numerous accolades within the country, could try sing a little softer, he lacks in voice dynamics (something well taught at music school) and if only he could try sing in English a few times more, he could attract a much wider audience. He too blew his own trumpet too quick and is well remembered within the urban setting with very few deliverables to tak about.

Roki (Rockford Josphat) had promise, which was sadly taken away by women, alcohol and the many kids he fathered. In the end it left him. Read about the man here. He tried to bring in a ‘swag’ of some sort but when it is mixed with controversy and a tainted public image, it all fell into oblivion.

I cannot even begin to talk about Nox, Maskiri, Leonard Mapfumo (just to mention a few) who I find surprisingly being mentioned to as artists. For they lack the study in the genre they pride themselves to be masters of.
Kumbie Shoniwa said in detail in the article
‘The rise and fall of Urban Grooves in Zimbabwe’ and you can read it here

And if you thought I have a thing against the ‘urban groovers'( oh, I have issues with this title, just so you know), other genres have simply fallen apart and seem to be doing nothing at reversing the fortunes of the country.

We can’t however pin our hopes on ‘sungura’ to put Zimbabwe on the map as it would be the same as pinning the hopes of South African Music on maskhandi, the two are trademarks but only as far as our borders.

We can however talk of Cassper Nyovest (SA), AKA (SA), Davido (Nigeria), Burna Boy (Nigeria), Youssou n’dour (Senegal), Salif Keita (Mali) – you get the drift here, who can really put a country on the map enough to command collaborations and performances such as those fateful night in Wembley Stadium. This is what we lack.

The flame dies daily as radio disc jockey’s and entertainment journos applaud crap and feed the masses with it. Be it through lack of material or by coercion (a few beers can do), the spirit is simply fading. Then again it might be the marketing of such a product that is lacking as the two co-exist and cannot do without the other.

Maybe its time we start looking at reggae as our way out, provided we can cultivate the same passion for the genre just like the Carribeans do. Other than that, we will just be doing what we have known best to do, celebrate our own failures.

We need artists of callibre, who have guts to explore new frontiers in world music. There seems to be a lack in effort in makingn marketable material in Zimbabwe and because music has largely been seen as a hobby rather than a business, many artists have put it to rest after a few critics.

I still hold dearly, the opinion that we can still bring back the glory of the Bundu Boys. One part of my mind is trying not compare the downfall of the economy with that of the arts but many great music has been forged out of hardships, maybe we just need to sing about ours and the world will listen.

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‘Music is the ear of the prophets, the only art that can calm the agitations of the soul’ Martin Luther (1483- 1546)

What do you think of our situtation, do we have what it takes to carve a name in world music?