Godwin Muzari : Arts Editor
Although a recent survey by Star FM proved that most people still follow sungura music, the genre is under serious threat from Zimdancehall and most sungura musicians have retreated to remote areas to try and keep their heads above water in the stormy music sea. Even top artistes in sungura have forged alliances with Zimdancehall musicians as the wave of the new genre gets more powerful with each release from many backyard studios that are producing talented youngsters, especially from the ghetto.
Sungura is in dire need of a saviour and all eyes are now on sungura godfather Alick “Baba Shero” Macheso who releases his new album “Tsoka Dzerwendo” on Monday. The album will be officially launched at Harare International Conference Centre next Thursday.
Some sungura musicians that include Peter Moyo, Tryson Chimbetu, Kapfupi, Extra Kwazvose, Simon Mutambi and Romeo Gasa released new albums in recent years but their projects have failed to stand the heat as Zimdancehall musicians continue to rule on local charts and airplay.
Zimdancehall is dominating, with the only commendable competition coming from Jah Prayzah, who is not a sungura musician. Jah Prayzah’s traditional contemporary album “Jerusarema” is the only release that has made an impact outside the Zimdancehall circle.
Zimdancehall musicians are literally competing among themselves and the race is between the likes of Winky D, Killer T, Soul Jah Love and Seh Calaz among others.
Many critics have claimed that sungura faces extinction since Zimdancehall musicians – that have an advantage in their huge number and daily releases – have terrorised the genre for about three years with most sungura musicians admitting they have lost the race to the youngsters.
In such a scenario, Macheso becomes the main man the sungura community now looks up to for redemption from of the genre from the jaws of Zimdancehall.
He has been sampling good tracks from the upcoming album at his shows and his followers are hopeful that the album will bring back the days of hits like “Mai Varubhi”, “Mudhikumbuke”, “Shedia”, “Madhawu”, “Charakupa”, “Madhuve” and “Tafadzwa”. He has not released a new product for the past four years and music fans hope that his release, if it becomes a hit, can bring back sungura to its real position in the industry.
Sungura dominated the music industry over the past years and many should recall how the likes of Gift Amuli, Somandla Ndebele, Joseph Garakara, Kapfupi and Sugar Sugar snatched their pieces of the music cake with opportunist hits.
Names like Tongai Moyo, Nicholas Zakaria, Admire Kasenga, Liversy Matamba, Tedious Matsito, Daiton Somanje, Josphat Somanje and Njerama Boys are in music history books because they plied their trade in the industry when sungura was the genre of the masses.
Even record companies would prioritise sungura over other genres when booking artistes for recording.
That is not the case anymore. The Zimdancehall fire is raging and the sungura community is feeling the heat. It can only take a sungura guru like Macheso to save the genre.
Will “Tsoka Dzerwendo” be up to the task? Fans are anxiously waiting to see how it performs as soon as it hits the streets on Monday.