LOCAL music has tremendously evolved since Independence in 1980.
Without doubt, Zimbabwe’s music landscape, past and present, is a tale of great irrepressible talent.
However, while both the old and new generations have produced many talented singers, it is the former that seems to have cleared the way for a memorable future.
The extremely gifted artistes from the older generation not only blessed a new Zimbabwe with outstanding works through albums but also dished out unforgettable first-class live acts.
It is the old generation of musicians that exported the local brand of music to the region and beyond.
Who can possibly forget the exploits of legends such as Leonard Dembo, Biggie Tembo, Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, Solomon Skuza, Fanyana Dube, Paul Matavire, Tongai Moyo, James Chimombe, Chiwoniso Maraire, System Tazvida, Marshall Munhumumwe and Safirio “Mukadota” Madzikatire?
Some of these icons who shaped the industry — talk of Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo, Alick Macheso, Lovemore Majaivana, Baba naMai Charamba, Machanic Manyeruke, Stella Chiweshe, Nicholas Zacharia, Michael Lannas, Jonah Moyo, to mention but a few — are still with us today.
What is astonishing is the fact that most, if not all, of the artistes at one time shared the same market.
Of course, there have been special moments, whose highlight might probably be
Bhundu Boys — led by Biggie Tembo — opening for international superstar Madonna at Wembley Stadium in Britain in 1987.
Promises of the future
But it now seems the new crop of young singers has dutifully embraced their generational role of shaping the future of local music, which essentially encapsulates our ideals, culture, values and aspirations.
South Africa-based musician Sha Sha easily comes to mind.
The “Queen of Amapiano”, as she is affectionately known by her adoring fans and music commentators, has been raising the country’s flag high.
She has managed the incredible distinction of being nominated and bagging international awards.
Last year, she became the first Zimbabwean to win a BET award after scooping the “Viewers’ Choice Best New International Act” gong.
Her music has been play-listed on almost every major channel, including MTV Base, Trace Urban, Channel O and BBC 1Xtra.
She is also one of the artistes who feature on the soundtrack to Eddie Murphy’s latest film “Coming 2 America.”
“It is interesting to note that the younger generation has come up with their unique sounds, mostly an advancement from their elders. There was a time when foreign artistes dominated our local music market, but the new breed of musicians have systematically fit in.
“They now control a huge stake on the market. People now discuss local music more compared to international,” said Jive Zimbabwe founder and director Benjamin Nyandoro.
We also have Mokoomba.
This Afro-fusion group needs little or no introduction.
They have become a staple of international festivals.
Mokoomba’s juggernaut was only slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic.
The group’s ‘magic’ is literally on-demand in every part of the world.
Their exploits can easily be equated to that of the Bhundu Boys in the early 80s.
Bhundu Boys widely toured Europe, America and Asia when it was still inconceivable for most local groups.
Through their enchanting and hard-hitting jit sound, they made history by signing a two-album deal with Warner Brothers and recorded an EP in the United Kingdom in 1985.
Now, Mokoomba’s brilliance has seen them being inducted into the Afro-pop Worldwide Hall of Fame, which has also honoured greats like King Sunny Ade, Youssou N’Dour, Oumou Sangaré, Angelique Kidjo, Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo.
Their extensive tours have seen them perform at major international festivals including Roskilde Festival, Sziget Festival, WOMAD Festival, Gnaoua World Music Festival, Paléo Festival, Førde Festival, Edmonton Folk Festival and Lollapalooza.
The group has staged more than 50 performances across North America and Europe.
Back in 2016, they also achieved another milestone, performing at the Africa Now! Concert, which was presented in partnership with the World Music Institute at the iconic Apollo Theatre.
They have shared the stage with mega-superstars including The Weeknd, Dua Lipa, David Guetta, Imagine Dragons, Armin Van Buuren, A$AP Ferg and Kygo.
Publications such as The New York Times and The Guardian could not resist profiling the ensemble, which is originally from Victoria Falls.
Jah “JP” Prayzah and Winky D’s are also leading the charge.
The two artistes are arguably some of the best among their peers.
The duo have been breaking local online streaming records.
He was also a nominee for the “African Entertainment Awards” (AEAUSA) 2020.
Winky D, on the other hand, won the “Best Dancehall Artist” at AEAUSA and has topped charts on BBC Radio 1Extra Destination Africa Top Five (5).
From The City of Kings comes the late Cal_Vin (real name Mgcini Calvin Nhliziyo).
It was unfortunate for the nation to lose such a young talent with great potential.
Before his demise, the late artiste had done collaborations with well-known artistes in Southern Africa, including South African rapper Cassper Nyovest.
Cal_Vin’s effort cemented Zimbabwe’s hip hop brilliance in the region.
Still in Bulawayo, Asaph has also proven to be a force on the hip hop scene.
His name popped up on the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) in the Listener’s Choice category alongside Tiwa Savage, Sarkodie, Focalistic and DBN Gogo, who are all major players in the industry.
There are also big things in dancehall music, which has captivated the youth and spawned a unique genre that is also reshaping the industry.