Tawanda Matanhire Arts Reporter
She has pocketed awards, featured at big shows and is one of the most active female artists in the country. Cynthia Mare has a bright future and her professionalism and talent are likely to push her to great heights. But many people do not know the journey she has travelled so far. The award winning Zimbabwean singer and songwriter was born and raised in Harare.
In her early teens she began to sing in the Church choir. At the age of 16, Mare moved to the United Kingdom and went to Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College obtaining a degree in Pediatric Nursing. During that time she also began her musical journey as an R&B singer.
Later on, Mare changed her music to an African Fusion sound, with influences of Jazz and Gospel. She also incorporated traditional Zimbabwean sounds and sang most songs in Shona. The release of her second studio album “Songs My Mother Loved” with the lead single “Zuva Rimwe” propelled her to stardom and firmly put her amongst Zimbabwe’s top musicians.
In 2014, Cynthia Mare set the record by becoming the top female award winner, scooping three awards at Zimbabwe Music Awards (ZIMA) that night. At the age of five she told her father who was a businessman that she wanted to be a singer, but he forbade her to pursue that path as he believed formal education was best.
Cynthia’s parents divorced when she was five years old. “Both my parents remarried and had other children, all girls,” Mare said. “I grew up between the two homes of my mother and father. It also meant I changed schools many times going to Vinona Primary, Haig Park Primary, Senoia Primary, St Dominic’s Secondary and Herman Gmeiner Secondary schools in Zimbabwe,”she said.
Mare’s Musical Journey began while at university in the UK, she was introduced to an independent record label, Outnumbered, and was signed on a three single deal. Before the release her first single, the CEO became seriously ill. The project was put on hold, never to be seen to again.
Mare continued to pursue her dream and in 2006 began to work with UK producer Krunchie, who produced songs “The Diet Song” and “Catch me when I fall”, released in 2010. “Catch me when I fall” was very popular among the UK based Zimbabweans and also very popular back home on Zimbabwe Power FM radio.
In the UK the song was played on BBC1Xtra, Choice FM.
After all these successful songs Mare received several awards, including a BEFFTA Award in 2011(Best Afro Caribbean Female Entertainer), ZimAchievers Award 2012 (Female Musician of the Year) and Zim Awards 2012 (Best Female). In 2010 Cynthia opened for the Sean Paul and Akon gig in Harare.
With over 40 thousand in attendance, the gig held at the National sports stadium was the biggest audience Cynthia had ever sang to. Soon after that she collaborated on “Born Champion” with Winky D, Jusa, and BKay & Kazz. She also worked with UK rappers Young Don and Scorcher on “Going In”.
The “Going In” video had a fast and furious theme and was played on UK MTV base, and other UK Channels. Ndeipi PR (CEO,Taponeswa Mavhunga), began to manage Cynthia Mare in 2010. Having worked at Warner Music PR for 10 years, Mavhunga had a lot of experience within the UK market.
She facilitated many appearances in UK publications and media for Cynthia, including a sold out show with Sean Paul in Bristol, UK. Shortly after this, Now Music CEO, Efe Omorobge, who manages Nigerian singer Tuface Indiba, offered to co-manage Cynthia with Ndeipi PR.
Cynthia was invited to Nigeria for the MTV Awards in 2010. While there she worked with Nigerian Artist General Pype on the reggae remix of “Catch me when I fall” and performed with Tiwa Savage. Before long the video, shot in the country, was hitting the Nigerian airwaves.
During that time Cynthia had many Nigerian radio, TV and newspaper appearances. After few months of promotional activity in Nigeria, Cynthia flew back to her base in London, UK.
In 2011 disaster struck as Cynthia’s mother, was diagnosed with bone cancer. On getting the news, Cynthia flew back home but her mother was already in a coma. She never recovered.
On 7 July 2011, Enita Charewa Chamboko passed away. Heartbroken, Cynthia began to work on a tribute album in her mother’s memory which she named “Songs My mother Loved”.
This was Cynthia’s second studio album.
Joseph Madziyire produced this album and co-wrote the lead single “Zuva Rimwe”. Other songs produced by Mono Mukundu were later added to the album.
The song, Zuva Rimwe (Dai Zvaibvira), describes Cynthia’s wish to have just one more day to talk to her mother whom she never got to talk to.
Released in December 2013, the “Songs My Mother Loved” album made Cynthia Mare a star in Zimbawe with the first copy selling for $4000.
In 2014 Mare won three Zimbabwe Music Award accolades.
She won Best Female, Best Single ‘Zuva Rimwe’, and Best Alternative Album ‘Songs My Mother Loved’. She gave an outstanding performance of the song “Zuva Rimwe” during the awards ceremony, taking her place amongst the leading female artists in the country.
Four months later in February 2015 Cynthia won a NAMA (National Arts Merit Awards) for Outstanding Female Musician. She performed her new hit single “Moto Ngaubvire”.
Later that year she also won ZNCC Women in Enterprise Award 2015.
She has since performed with Oliver Mtukudzi, Hugh Masekela, Zahara, and Jah Prayzah. She has performed on platforms like Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), Womens Arts fest and Shoko Festival.
Having established herself as serious musician, Cynthia turned to her other passion; empowering young women.
With support from the Bristsh Council and UKAID in Zimbabwe, Cynthia launched her single “Moto Ngaubvire” at the start of 16 days of activism in November 2014.
The song aimed at empowering young women to believe in themselves and their own self worth especially after surviving abuse.
The song was well received and was nominated for ZIMA awards 2015.
In February 2015 Cynthia continued on this path by becoming a brand ambassador for a campaign against Gender based violence by World Education Incorporated Bantwana.
As her brand grew corporate companies started to notice her and in 2014 Cynthia Mare became brand ambassador for Zimbabwean mobile telecom company Gtel.
In 2015 ZOL (Zimbabwe internet provider) also made Cynthia their brand ambassador.
Black Things, African wear began to officially dress Cynthia in 2014.
She also had a short stint as a presenter on Coca-Cola Zimbabwe’s music TV Show “Coke On The Beat”.
She also starred in Starbrite Talent Show.
She was a mentor on the music show and went on to have the winning competitor of the 2013 season.
After the successful launch of the album “Songs My Mother Loved” Cynthia did not slow down as she embarked on national tour.
This was great training for herself and her new band.
While touring, she wrote and performed new songs and by July 2015, Cynthia was recording her third studio album with her live band.
Entitled SHINGA, the album was produced by Humphrey Domboka and recorded Jah Prayzah studio in Belvedere, Harare.
On 20 November 2015, Cynthia Mare launched her third studio album “SHINGA” at the 7Arts Theatre in Harare.
It was a star studded, red carpet event with fellow artists Hope Masike, Victor Kunonga, Donald Kanyuchi and Tytan supporting the launch.
The album was well received with many people commenting on her musical growth, the well thought-out message in the music and Cynthia’s powerful voice.
The national broadcaster ZBC aired the album launch on national TV two weeks later.
By the end of 2015, the first single “Shinga” was already getting considerable airplay on TV and radio.
“Shinga” is an inspirational song aimed at empowering others.
This album also has many up-tempo songs with strong traditional sounds like Waita Mari , Muchato, Ngoro and Nhamo.
Cynthia Mare has also collaborated with Jah Prayzah on the up-tempo song “Murudo”.
Other collaborations include Tytan and singer/songwriter/guitarist Donald Kanyuchi who was groomed by the legend Mtukudzi at Pakare Paye Arts Centre.
Mare is looking forward to continuing her journey with her 2016 project.