R-Kay The Big Stage
Guitarists, producer and singer Mono Mukundu celebrates 26 years in music this year.
I hosted him on my weekend show “The Playback” on Star FM last weekend.
Let me say I salute you Murumbwana and thanks for the great music over the years as a guitarist and as a producer.
The Big Stage this week celebrates with you and wishes you many more musical exploits and adventures.
Your contribution to the music industry is well noted and appreciated and I am confident that as we seek to establish a hall of fame in Zimbabwe your name will find space among the best ever to rock the music industry.
This year things have to change. How we value ourselves, who we are and how we celebrate one another has to change. We have to change the way we talk about Chris Brown and Adele and other foreign celebrities with pride and forget our local heroes.
It is not a strange thing to hear young people and even adults debating about the who’s-who of the Western showbiz and actually finding an identity in them.
Is it because they are better than us? Well to some extent they are better, but they can never be us and that is the essence of art. What we do and how we do it make us who we are and it’s up to us to support our own celebrities.
Talking about supporting, have you voted for Hope Masike and Pah Chihera that have been nominated for Kora awards?Please vote now and put our sisters on the African music map.
Now let me look at how Mono got into music.
Clive Mukundu was born on 15 September 1970 to George Mukundu and Joyce Gwatidzo. He grew up in the high density suburbs of Kambuzuma, Kuwadzana and Mufakose in Harare. In 1989 he derived the nickname “Mono” from a single dreadlock (mono-lock) he had during his school days. Mono’s first choice of instrument is the lead guitar though he also plays bass, keyboards, mbira and marimba. He also composes, arranges, produces music and has expertise in studio engineering.
His interest in music was first noticeable at a very tender age. However, this was against his father’s wishes that each time he was seen holding any form of instrument, he received corporal punishment. Mono was resilient to the opposition and at the age of nine years made himself a homemade tin guitar which he played in private.
At the same age, he also discovered he could compose music.
In January 1988 at the age of 17, Mono met Last Saidi, a Chitungwiza bass player, who taught him his first three chords on a standard guitar. The first song he proceeded to learn to play on rhythm guitar was “Jah, Hear my Plea” by Don Carlos. From the three chords he learnt from Saidi, he taught himself to play the lead guitar by imitating from other guitarists on songs on radio, TV or guitarists he came in contact with.
While in Form Three at Mufakose High 3 School in Harare, he formed his first band named “Sarungano Chanters”. There was one recording studio in Zimbabwe then situated in Southerton, Harare. Band members being of school going age and financially constrained, would walk on foot to and from the studio for recording auditions.
Sarungano Chanters failed more than 10 auditions, clearly a big toll on most band members, culminating in discouragement and frustrations which led to the group’s disbandment in 1989.
That was Mono’s first contact with the studio although it was disappointing.
Mono later moved on and started working with various musicians until he became a renowned guitarists working with Oliver Mtukudzi, Shingisai Siluma, Chiwoniso Maraire and most of the country’s gospel musicians of his time.
He then established his Monolio Studios that has become home to many musicians in the country.
Today Mono is a well sought-after producer whose musical touch usually creates some very Afro-centric vibes which has given him a fair share of the music market in Zimbabwe.
Artiste on the rise
From Mono, let me introduce young musician Tinashe Nyamukapa.
He combines his ability to play instruments and inspiration to write songs to come up with good music.
Nyamukapa, a young contemporary pop gospel artiste aged 27, left university to pursue a career in music.
He is currently a music teacher and plays for a ensemble called Barak Quartet.He got interested in music from a young age and was involved in the choir in both his primary( KweKwe Primary School & High School as well as Saint Patrick’s High School ) but really got serious when he left University to pursue music as a career.
He says for him music is a calling and he feels this is what God created him to do.
He currently has two albums, “When We Pray” (his first with 12 tracks that featured Pastor G, Tendai Zhou – from Zim Praise, Comfort Manyame and Janet Manyowa. His second album is called “Dare To Believe”, which has 15 tracks
Nyamukapa plays three instruments ( Piano, Drums & Guitar ) but Piano is his main instrument and his love for piano can be felt in his music especially the piano ballads like “Munondipa Simba” from his “Dare to Believe” album and “Munondisimudzira” from “When We Pray”.
Nyamukapa is a talented artiste who needs exposure and I am happy that this year a new festival to give exposure to music will take place.
The Ngoma Ngairire Zimbabwe music expo 2016 is going to be an eye opener for many of us as it brings together and celebrates the story of the music industry in Zimbabwe. It will be an opportunity to sample our artistic works, get up and close and begin a journey to fully support what it means to be Zimbabwean.
Remember as you travel around the world you will not gain significance by your knowledge of their artistes and music but you will be admired and even attract people to your country by the wealth of information you have about your own people. Let’s make everyday count by deliberately seeking to know about our own and above all priorities to celebrate.
Richard “R-Kay” Kohola is a radio presenter /music critic and development expert contact details firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com