As the year 2017 draws to a close, Veteran arts guru TINASHE MUTERO revisits the year with his pick of hits and misses It is year end and many among us are taking stock of the successes and failures of 2017. It is a time when we revisit what were the New Year’s resolutions last January and how much progress we have made.
A lot of pleasant surprises and disappointments were seen in 2017, a year which Cde Robert Mugabe resigned from the top job in our land after quite a distance to say the very least. On the music scene 2017, has by far belonged to MTM. The birth of the Military Touch Movement was met with a lot of noise.
Many perceived the stable some sort of coup on Andy Muridzo’s ascendancy or was it a move to protect Jah Prayzah from an imploding coup by having him ‘swallowed’ by his musical inspiration Jah Prayzah.
You would remember that in 2016, Andy threatened to take over from his mentor through sheer brilliance. In 2017, the mentee made headlines for impregnating Bev. Somewhere along the lines Andy lost that which made him a household name.
The pregnancy quickly ‘resigned from Bev’s womb under mysterious circumstances that were bottled up by Bev’s management but the damage had already been done to young Muridzo’s image. The good thing though is that his live show following has grown, presumably from fishing audiences at MTM shows.
Speaking of MTM, the last this writer heard about Tahle is when people spoke about her apparel on ‘‘Chekeche’’ video. One wonders where she is hiding and why her star is visibly struggling to shine. Baba Shero, Alick Macheso, made false promises; the Sungura maestro gave numerous release dates for his yet to be dished out album.
I really do not expect anyone to be surprised, Alick Macheso has a tradition of telling such mendacities and remain dear to Sungura affectionados. Unlike in the recent past, Macheso did not hog the limelight with controversial and childish rabbiting issues. He was beaten to that by Baba Keketso.
Instead, Macheso was the elder that we want him to be. He collaborated with Baba Harare, Princo Bindura and Sabastian Magacha on very good songs. On the gospel front it appears Baba naMai Charamba have lost the magic. Their lyrics are still poignant but the music has a lost a lot of the ingredients which made hits in the class of Vhuserere. It is young men such as Mathias Mhere and Pastor Mahendere who have taken over the torch.
Doubtless though that The Charambas will regain their lost lustre, they still have the oomph. Speaking of Mathias I think his collaboration with Mkhululi was a waste while he worked magic with Baba Manatsa In my view 2017, was yet another year where female musicians delivered next to nothing in their collective.
However, there are individuals whose work and work-ethic shone bright and is infectious. Ammara Brown’s ‘‘Akilliz’’ can easily contend for song of the year. Though controversial the video made conjured waves as well. If you ask me the audio is better than the video but that is a story for another day.
Another lady who I think should be mentioned in the same breath with Ammara is Vimbayi Zimuto. The former Tuku back vocalist has shown an exciting work ethic. She has been trotting between her Netherlands base and Zimbabwe making music and videos.
Her greatest setback in my view are her melodies; they are not sticky. Zimbabwe at the moment is fond of simple game song melodies. Or anything that is easy to follow and not a mouthful. I however, believe very soon she will be among the top acts if she does not tire on her industriousness.
One sentence for one of my favourite artists, Mangwenya. Where were you this year Machembere? When Mangwenya went AWOL at least in terms of studio releases, new voices rose. Chengeto Brown is easily 2017’s biggest find. She sounds like her late mother Chiwoniso Maraire. I urge everyone who loves good music to follow and support this young talent. Tamy is also up there just that her music does not resonate with the majority of listening audience in Zimbabwe.
The biggest joke of the year was Makhosini Hlongwane’s short lived Ministry and its programs. It had everything bad save for the good name. The populist meetings he had with artists were a waste.
The problems facing the arts sector are known by everyone. Well almost everyone except Hlongwane and his minions. The arts does not need pretenders at the helm. For me, the difference between Hlongwane and Oscar Pambuka is that the one joked with a Ministry while the other made fun with arguably Zimbabwe’s biggest music genre at the moment; Zimdancehall. I feel journalists need to respect the arts or at least the artists.
Epic failures are led by Khuliyo who ironically was part of the most successful events. Khuliyo’s song which attracted jibes from Babo Skhonjwa is good evidence that a lot more than passion and equipment is needed in music.
We should however, applaud Khuliyo and team for successfully hosting the Bulawayo Arts Awards. The organisers of BAA showed what people can do when they work as team, with a shared commitment and vision.
At (my) home in the Midlands Province, Tamuka made noise. He is now part of the high flying MTM. It seems all he touched turned gold. Tamuka is the man behind ‘‘Nhema’’, ‘‘Kutonga Kwaro’’ and all your favourite hits. Just pick any good song from 2017; chances are Tamuka was involved.
Interesting to note is that Tamuka took the spotlight from his equally talented colleague, Oskid whose works ignited 2015 and 2016. Assuming that the Midlands Province, churning great talents, then Zimbabwe has to look forward to Yulesis Katoto popularly known as Yule in Gweru. The young man has Midas touch. His skill spans across making live music and computer generated beats. Look for him.
The Hip hop sector had an Indaba. They spoke a lot about their failures, brought South African Silkour to share insights. And from what I heard, his take-home message to attendees was be relevant locally. News also said Patson Dzamara dissed Mudiwa at the summit. The good Dr reminded the multi degree holder and rapper that he was old and poor.
In 2018, hope is disses turn into money and the degreed help formulate better music industry strategies. Lastly, Winky sang about factionalism on Dzemudanga and Jah Prayzah provided the soundtrack to operation restore legacy.
Who will sing for peaceful elections? Only time will tell! In the meantime let us toast to Robert Burns and sing Auld Lange Syne instead.
Happy New Year!