Lennon Mudzengerere-Arts Correspondent
It is now two weeks after the inaugural music festival dubbed Amplifaya was held at the Heritage Park, Rainbow Towers in Harare.
A lot of speculation has been said about the event which ran under the theme “New Voices Amplified!”.
It was the brainchild of earGROUND’s Plot Mhako who created it with the sole aim of amplifying the budding voices and this was achieved in style.
First, there are some key areas that the organisers managed to pick out that contributed immensely to the success of the festival that ought to be highlighted.
The youth friendly event was presented by earGROUND and Gateway Stream Music and dedicated to promoting new voices, creative diversity and creating a safe space for young consumers of entertainment.
Amplifaya sought to nurture and amplify the next music superstar and help them connect with the youthful consumers, the mass market, prepare and propel them to the global stage.
Young consumers of entertainment products such as music, fashion, dance and new innovations have a unique taste that has often been overlooked by the mainstream.
Amplifaya featured some young popular artists and the best promising musicians from across Zimbabwe.
“The festival line-up featured emerging artists supported by a few seasoned voices,” said Mhako. “These new voices that are set to become the next global superstars. These are artists who are waiting for an AMPLIFAYA to blow up and be heard.
“These new voices are spread across the country and come in various genres. The young population already connects with some of them who are already disrupting the daily playlists and our taste buds.”
Artistes on the line-up included Denim Woods, Boi Shona, Takura, Suhn, MJ Sings, Leo Magozz, Mystery, Madeherbelieve, Moosafa King, Monzon, Shian, Murphy Cubic, Dancehall Keddah, Solution GC, Dough Major, Feli Nandi, Lloyd Soul, Kyla Blac, Shaku Chanté, Ace Frvr, Alvin The New Guy, Andrea The Vocalist, Dingo, Kim Makumbe, Noluntu j, Benard Betera, Tanto Wavie, Dj Krimz, Terry Gee, Chipo Muchegwa, Yenge family, Kanter the Janter, Ti Gonzi, Blot, Dj King Her, Nyasha David, Ishan, Malish and Tebza.
One of the commendable elements of the festival was the marketing.
The event set a different tone in terms of brand visibility and overall marketing.
It was deliberately decided to go with a 100 percent paperless route in line with September being environmental awareness month and made use of digital platforms and influencers as a way of spreading the word.
The festival kicked off on Friday with the Amplifaya Creative Entrepreneurship Programme (ACEP), a unique programme tailored to provide training, space, support to young non-professional and practicing artists/creatives from across all disciplines.
The workshop brought in a panel of various industry experts as speakers to address key issues that concern the music sector.
The mini-conference was one of the key highlights of the entire festival.
Chad Mhako and James Jaricha were quite resourceful, taking artists through the ins and outs of the “art business”.
The duo also delved into a “digital copyrights conspiracy” that has resulted in local artists losing potential revenue to bogus distributors. Lerai Rakoditsoe and Young DLC delved into artist etiquette and the global landscape that artists will get exposed to as they grow in their respective artistic sectors.
The workshop did deliver, and the important nuggets dished out will certainly play an important role in the budding artists’ future.
As part of the workshop, the organisers also took some time to discuss the importance of mental health in the arts sector.
With suicide cases spiking, especially amongst artists, the Harare based non-profit Imani Trust extended resources to artists as a way to curtail mental health breakdowns.
The performances were electric and the complementary decoration aesthetic courtesy of Zar Events who produced the event.
With artists from all regions of the country, it was bound to be a blast.
Yenge Family took to the stage first and the rhumba ensemble managed to prove that rhumba still has a market share in the Zimbabwean music market.
The vocals, the routine, and the track selection were on point.
Going through the day, one of the strongest emerging voices, Dancehall Kedah, took to the stage.
It was quite entertaining seeing a dancehall musician going up on stage with an acoustic guitarist.
The performance was wholesome, and the revellers could not have asked for anything more.
The song, “KuGhetto” was a hit on stage, and it had the crowd banging, thanks to the acoustic melody that backed it.
Man of the hour, Andrea the Vocalist, took to the stage early in the evening.
One thing about the young prodigy is that he is headed for the stars.
The Victoria Falls-based musician sampled new songs that he recently recorded in South Africa. His stage work has improved immensely and the sleek dance routine he has added to his act managed to serenade the crowd.
The contingent from Bulawayo took the stage at a later stage in the night, and their performance was worth the wait.
Kayla Blac is a vocal genius. Her set was amazing, and the flower-padded microphone stand added a lot of flare and elegance to her act.
Then there was Tebza. His act was in every sense of the word flawless. From the sleek dance moves, the booming voice, the energy, and the overall stage presence of the crowd, everything was perfect.
The crowd reaction was a testament to how amazing the performance was. The same can be said for MJ Sings and Murphy Cubic.
The fan favourite for the entire night was to be Noluntu J. The blue-haired diva put up a spirited performance that left the crowd gasping for more.
From the traditional Ndebele outfit to the booming vocals, Noluntu J came prepared to conquer and she did that.
Denim Woods and Suhn managed to maintain the tempo set by Noluntu J.
Takura, Feli Nandi, Ishan, and Nyasha David also managed to prove that they were still worth every penny they are paid for performances.
Being seasoned performers, they had to put in the extra mile to maintain the tempo set by the budding artists throughout the day.
With how extensive the line-up was, it was easy to forecast a cloud of confusion and congestion on stage.
But seasoned stage manager Heather Jeke managed to keep everything in check and as highlighted on the concert programme, the show ended exactly at the break of midnight.
One thing about the festival was that it managed to elevate inclusivity.
This has been a problem in the arts sector and seeing festival organizers pushing for more inclusivity is quite breathtaking.
There still seems to be a lot to be done in terms of accessibility, especially for people with disabilities. Getting on and off stage was a bit of a pickle and it is an issue that should be addressed.
Despite attracting a low turnout, the Amplifaya Festival was a fine blueprint when it comes to planning and execution in the entertainment sector.