By Tawanda Mudzonga
Published February 20, 2013
Legendary musician and Zimbabwean national treasure, Oliver Mtukudzi, is set to give a special performance at the Book Cafe in Harare on February 21, 2013 at 8pm. Dubbed ‘Trio”, the show will be a pared down version of his band, The Black Spirits, creating a unique and different feel to Mtukudzi’s very popular music. Featuring Mtukudzi on his iconic acoustic guitar, Strovers Masobwe on percussion and Enoch Piroro on bass guitar, the show is a rare chance to experience ‘Tuku Music’ with a twist.
Oliver Mtukudzi is Zimbabwe’s most acclaimed musician. He has travelled the world and performed for audiences young and old, delighting them all with his beautiful music. With 60 albums to his name, Mtukudzi is also one of the most prolific and successful Zimbabwean musicians with a legion of local and international fans. He released ‘Sarawoga’, his 60th album, in 2012 on his 60th birthday.
Mtukudzi’s career began in 1975 when he released his first single, “Stop After Orange”, at the age of 23. Now at 60, his latest single release “Wandichata” shows that the talented musician’s appeal has not waned over a career that spans almost forty years. The eldest in a family of seven, Mtukudzi was born into a musical family–both his father and mother were notable singers. His brother, Robert Mtukudzi (deceased), played keyboards in Mtukudzi’s band and Oliver’s son Sam Mtukudzi (deceased) and daughter Selmor Mtukudzi have both recorded successful albums.
Mtukudzi, or ‘Tuku’ as he is affectionately known, does not often perform at the Book Cafe. But when he does, the venue is always packed with loyal fans who have come to see him perform in a more intimate atmosphere. Fans can expect a very mixed set, featuring up-tempo and slower songs from his extensive catalogue, as well as popular new releases, Wandichata (Pata-Pata) and Sarawoga, from his latest album. Asked about the set list, Tuku’s manager, Sam Mataure, said, “You never know which songs with Tuku, but it is guaranteed to be a good show. People should come and expect an evening of beautiful music.”
Mtukudzi is an extremely talented musician. His distinctive voice, catchy katekwe rhythms and passionate and nuanced lyrical story-telling endear him to many. Through his powerful lyrics, Mtukudzi has spoken out against stigma, discrimination, and child abuse. His music has gone beyond Zimbabwean borders and has inspired leaders from government and civil society, as well as parents to take steps to promote children’s rights. In recognition of his efforts, Tuku was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern and East Africa in 2011.
Mtukudzi is an inspiration to many Zimbabwean artists, and in turn he has done a great deal to help guide and mentor a new generation of artists. As the founder of Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton, Mtukudzi has mentored and nurtured a new generation of musicians including Munya Mataruse, Donald Kanyuchi and the band Tsvete who have begun to make names for themselves on the music scene.
Mtukudzi’s music with its eclectic mix of influences has come to be known as ‘Tuku Music’. Mtukudzi says, “I was the last person to know that my music is called Tuku Music. I knew my music was simply African music but it was actually my fans who labelled it as such. And in my research with the fans they said my music was uniquely influenced by the mbira, the jiti, the tsavatsava, katekwe, the dinhe it might be a ballad but you can feel those elements. So they labelled it uniquely Tuku Music.”
Mtukudzi’s musical career started when he went professional in 1977, teaming up with Thomas Mapfumo in the famous Wagon Wheels Band and recording Dzandimomotera, inspired by Zimbabwe’s 1970s’ liberation war. In March 2013, Mtukudzi will team up with Mapfumo for a series of concerts in the UK, in a Historic Reunion tour of two of Zimbabwe’s music giants.
Oliver Mtukudzi is one of Zimbabwean music’s spiritual fathers and a living legend. Don’t miss the chance to see him perform a scaled down, ‘Trio” show, at 8pm on Thursday night, February 21, 2013 at a small, intimate venue : The Book Cafe.