Acting Entertainment Editor
Mutare-based afro-fusion songstress Rutendo Jacqueline Mugandani-Ngoreta has said she is planning to let her new extended play (EP) move along with fans.
The musician successfully launched her EP entitled “Tsvimbo Nedohwe” last Saturday at a colourful ceremony at Nhaka Gallery in Harare that was highly attended by some of the local musicians.
Rutendo Jackie or ‘RJ’, as she is affectionately known in the music industry, revealed in an interview with The Herald Arts that her new offering was an experimental project where she played around with afro-fusion beat to tap into her African soul music.
“My music is afro-fusion afro-tradition,” she said. “I am honouring our culture and tradition. I want the world to know and learn more about our culture and tradition.”
“Tsvimbo Nedohwe”, is a six-track offering produced by Cornelius Muponda (3DKeys) of Harmony Studios, mixed and mastered by Keith Farquharson.
The EP, which is available on all digital platforms, has a beautiful blend of Manicaland dialect and from critics, it is peppered with love and appreciation to higher deities of culture.
“It is an EP not an album because l wanted people to take time to listen, appreciate and understand my music first,” she said. “It has less songs such as “Mudzimu WaBaba”, “Zarura Masango”, “Mhondoro Nyuchi” and “Sango” , among others. I am happy to have worked with reputable and seasoned musicians who helped me to perfect it.”
Rutendo Jackie, who described herself as having a spiritual undertone, said she used her music as a form of healing. “I heal up within my craft, I create songs for the purpose of healing and self-empowerment,” she said.
When it comes to her creative process, the bubbly songstress said the EP was not her entry into music as previously she has done some songs although they did not have much airplay.
“I remember being like, I just want to take a break, but then when you take a break, something just keeps taking you back, like you still have more to say,” she said. “I took a break from mainstream music making between 2014 and 2019 to concentrate on my family and other business interests in fashion, as I have a bridal and clothing stable named RJ Collection.
“In 2019, I then returned on the scene with Tami Bimha and we produced a single titled ‘Usandisiye’. I decided to take my musical career further by establishing the ‘Afro Blue Band’ which I am touring across the country with.”
The ensemble consists of young super talented and highly motivated bandsmen.
When it comes to the EP, Rutendo Jackie said she played around with cultural beats and was able to find a way to make it her own.
“It was more like an experiment. I wanted to re-introduce myself again to fans post-lockdown, hence had to come out strong with this extended play,” she said. “When I first did other songs before the EP I felt like it I could have done way better if we had not been under those restrictions.
“Now that things in the world have returned back to normal post-pandemic, I saw that there’s no better time for new music, hence the EP.”
The Business Management and Administration diploma student said her qualification equipped her with the tools that assist in navigating the music industry.
“It is really a handful when it comes to performing as well and also just understanding the music business as well,” she said.
She cited her challenges and said she wished to collaborate with local jazz and afro-fusion artistes.
“I have a pending collaboration with Victor Kunonga and Doubles wekwaMarange among others,” she said. “My role models are Lira and Asa although I draw much inspiration from the late Chiwoniso Maraire.
“I also feel we are not given the opportunity to showcase our talent favourably and equally, especially coming from Mutare, Harare seems like a jungle.”
With 2022 almost over, she has had the honour of doing so many things, she can hardly even count.
She calls featuring on several projects and launching this new EP as one the biggest highlights of the year.
On a personal level, going through her spiritual transition has been amazing for her, learning about herself has been a beautiful journey.
But before, her great entry on to the professional music stage began when she joined Band Mutare as a lead vocalist and together they would go on to tour numerous places across the country, including Leopard Rock, Montclair Hotel and Casino, and The Holiday Inn.
In 2021, she worked with Jah Prayzah’s Military Touch Movement (MTM) stable music director Victor Stot on a single titled ‘Waya Waya’.
South African based globally acclaimed musician Mr Brown joined Rutendo Jackie on a project titled ‘Don’t Let Go’ in 2022, getting airplay on music television channels Trace Africa, Channel O, and MTV Base.
Another solid project done with South Africa based X Mile titled ‘Nguva’ was done in the same year and a second song with Victor Stot titled ‘Mbereka’.
This growing body of work earned Rutendo Jackie some recognition in 2022 winning the Best Female Artiste award at the Manicaland Creative Awards (MCAs) before picking up Best Collabo gong for ‘Don’t Let Go’ with Mr Brown.
She also emerged winner for the Women in Arts and Culture (Jazz Music) at the 2022 ZNCC Manicaland Women in Enterprise Awards.
Again as an advocate for women voices it was such an honourable feat for Jackie to take part in the 16 Women Voices alongside Fatima Katiji and Mary Anibal among others, who were used as a campaign against gender- based violencein partnership with Music in Africa.
Born in Mutare on February 18, 1989 and being the only female amongst her siblings, Rutendo’s entry into the world of music is a classic case of ‘hot talent spotted and exposed’.
At the age of eight she was able to draw people’s attention to her God given endowment in vocal prowess as she participated in the choir and traditional dance at Chiredzi Primary School.
She is married to Alwyn Mugandani.