Godwin Muzari Arts Editor
On March 18 top musicians will converge at Pakare Paye Arts Centre to celebrate the life of Sam Mtukudzi who died on March 15, 2010 in a car accident.
Musicians that include Sam’s father Oliver Mtukudzi, Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah, Suluman Chimbetu, Gary Tight, Sam Dondo Pakare Paye Ensemble and Prince Edward Jazz Band will come together to celebrate the life of a musician who died in the early stages of his promising career.
By the time of his death at the age of 21, Sam had done and seen a lot in the music industry. He had done much in the few years he de0voted his post-school life to full-time music before he was painfully taken away to the second world.
Sam had assembled a band, done albums, recorded with various artistes, toured internationally and won the hearts of local music followers. He was already getting prime slots to perform at popular venues and competed with established jazz musicians that were far much older than him for such shows.
Of course Sam had an advantage of being a son of a superstar in the same industry, but he never wanted to be in his father’s shadow forever.
An ordinary musician would have been comfortable with working as a band-member for Oliver Mtukudzi, but Sam wanted more.
He wanted his own share of the cake of local music. He wanted his name to be on the list of band leaders and composers. And he did so with his AY Band. Sam managed to maintain professionalism in the youthful band and most of its stars are now with big music outfits.
He had the opportunity of touring many parts of the world with his father and performing as part of Black Spirits at many big local concerts. It could have been enough for a musician of his age. He already had fame by being in the first group of the Shakespeare’s popular classification: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
But Sam was not content with being born in a famous family. He wanted to achieve greatness and would have harvested many tons of success if he were still alive.
He was a perfect example of a star taken away too soon when everything about him showed great potential. He was his own man as his first album title “Rume Rimwe” (own man) rightly suggests.
Even at the launch of “Rume Rimwe” Sam made it clear that he did not want the ‘son of Oliver’ tag to be in his professional file forever. He had bigger plans.
Although he did a rendition of his father’s “Tozeza Baba” on his first album, his second release “Cheziya”, which was released posthumously, clearly shows that he was building a different brand.
The album carries mature tracks that show that Sam was fast getting out of Tuku’s shadow. At his age, he had enough music background – not linked to his father – to lead a music career that had all colours of enormous potential. He had worked with Prince Edward Jazz Band for some years and had learnt the first notes of musical instrument before his father knew it. His father was actually surprised to see him in the school band.
Prince Edward Jazz Band is one group that gives students real taste of professional music. The band performs at prestigious festivals and corporate events. The band members get to perform before huge crowds at the Harare International Festival of Arts and other platforms and the members learn a lot before they are released to the real music market as individuals.
So, before Sam shared the stage with his father, he had already graced big stages with the school band. Before he strummed the guitar and blew the trumpet with Black Spirits, he had shown his skill in Prince Edward Jazz Band.
Even when his father transferred him from Prince Edward to Chindunduma High School in Shamva, the move did not kill the music spirit in him. He went on to join and make a difference in that school’s marimba club.
The spirit grew stronger until his father allowed him to join his band when he completed his academic studies. Sam had already done a lot in music.
Although he could have been inspired by his father’s success and had an advantage in the industry, Sam was determined on his own to be an influential musician.
When Tuku eventually supported his son on his music journey, he did like any father would do. He realised Sam had already chosen his career path and supporting him became inevitable.
But such support does not always guarantee good work. Many fathers have supported their offsprings in various careers but the children fail to make it. Sam was a hard worker. He did not relax and he did many things on his own in the little time we had with him in the music industry.
Listening to songs like “Cheziya”, “Mamureva Wani” and “(Mweya) Famba Zvakanaka” one can get an idea of the impact that Sam would have made by now if death had not snatched the flower that has just started to bloom.
He did a much in less time and there is every reason to celebrate his life at Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton on March 18.