When talent, money are enemies: Progress eludes Chipfumo Progress Chipfumo

Blessings Chidakwa and Trust Freddy

Lifestyle Reporters

Progress Chipfumo is one of the most talented musicians to ever emerge in Zimbabwe.

Hit albums like “Ndinovatenda Nei”, “Tsiurika” and “Progress Check “can attest to that fact.

Even his name suggests of someone destined for some sought of “Progress” in life.

However, fate, seems to always favour its own way.

Just like several other artistes roaming around the streets of Zimbabwe, Progress is just a clear case were “talent and money” are probably enemies.

Having begun his musical career in 1994, 30 years down the line he has ‘nothing tangible’ to show for it, compared to his efforts.

For Proggy, talent alone has sometimes proven to be inadequate to reap rewards compared to some high riding artists who came in the game after him like Jah Prayzah whom he is playing second fiddle to. Whether it is case of mismanagement, fate, character or piracy, poverty simply seems to be trailing some of the most talented artists in the land like urban grooves pioneers Maskiri, Roki among others.

In an interview this week, Proggy as Chipfumo is affectionately known in musical circles, said he was in the studio finalising his seventh album set for release next month.

“It is true that the music industry is struggling and not getting the support it needs.

“But individual artistes need to remain resilient and work hard to promote their own careers.

“I believe everyone has his or her own season to make money.

They should avoid drugs and other vices, and focus on maintaining their fame,” he said.

Music promoter and arts critic, Max Mugaba said renowned music producer, composer, guitarist and author Clive “Mono” Mukundu summed it aptly through the title of his book “Poor and Famous.”

“People perceive that our famous musicians are reaping, but the situation on the ground is that the Zimbabwe creative economy as a whole whether musicians or other forms of art cannot sustain talent,” he said.

Mugaba attributes the poor state of the music industry to fans accessing music for free on platforms like Share It and Whatsapp as they are not subscribing to channels that the artiste can monetize.

He said in as much as people assume that musicians are making money, that was not the case.

“This notion comes from yesteryear artistes that were signed to record labels and where given advances which they would squander with impunity because they did not understand that they were loans to be recuperated from album sales later on.

“The current artiste is informed but the conditions have evolved, most own record labels funding their own projects with little returns, thus becoming as Mono states,‘Famous and Poor’,” said Mugaba.

Mukundu said some of the factors contributing to the difficulties in the industry were lack of structures like record labels.

“We used to have Gramma and Zimbabwe Music Corporation (ZMC), unfortunately we no longer have them. Authorities did not intervene when the industry was hit by piracy, which killed the business side of the music industry.

“Most musicians today did not enter the industry at a time when record labels existed, and so they do not fully understand what record labels are,” he said.

Writing on his Facebook page recently, Roki admitted to making a lot of mistakes when he became famous at a very young age and wanted other artistes to learn from his life story.

He urged fellow artistes not to be swayed by their fame. “I don’t think pane akandiroya, wrong choices urimudiki, patakazvitanga zvaispaka, fame yakapinda musoro even though uchigona kuimba zvinoshaya basa.

“So, other musicians must learn from my mistakes…thank God ndakakurumidza kuzviona fast,” he wrote on his Facebook timeline.

Roki is part of the pioneers of the early 2000s urban grooves movement that gave birth to the likes of ExQ, Leonard Mapfumo, Maskiri, Stunner, Plaxedes Wenyika, Tererai, Sani Makhalima, Mafriq, among others. He made a mark in 2001 after releasing hits such as “Seiko”, “Maidei”, “Chidzoka” and “Suzanna”.

Another music critic, Blessing Tewedzayi, said the struggle of artistes is beyond the physical, but in fact spiritual.

“Our struggle is not physical but spiritual. You will win things, or fights or struggles on this earth from what you won in the heavenly realm. Before you see or have victory in the physical realm, you must win against spiritual forces in the heavens,” he said.

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