The annual SPAR Solo Fest Pakare Paye roars into life here tomorrow, attracting the crème de la crème of Zimbabwe’s performing arts to bring the curtain down on 2010.
All is pretty much set now for the festival celebrating individual talent, diversity and richness of our arts.
Never in the history of the solo fest and arguably in recent times has the country seen on one stage in one day such an outstanding and diverse line-up of talent as tomorrow’s extravaganza.
The festival starts promptly at 1pm in the Sam Mtukudzi Conference Centre auditorium at Pakare Paye Arts Centre, 238 Galloway Road, Norton.
Unlike previous solo fests when we reserved the big names for the late slots, tomorrow’s programme sequence is entirely different, with the likes of Alick Macheso, Tuku, Sulumani Chimbetu, Sebastian Magacha, Winky D, Kapfupi, Steve Makoni and Bob Nyabinde all scattered at different times throughout the course of the day.
Fans must come early to catch every artist while the usual refreshments, braai, full bar and catering are available.
We are privileged world-acclaimed Zimbabwean sculptor Dominic Benhura has accepted our invitation as patron of Solo Fest Pakare Paye.
Benhura said he was honoured to be associated with the festival and its developmental thrust to uplift individual talent, promote artistic diversity and nurture self-confidence amongst artists enabling them to perform solo and still entertain and generate income.
What is particularly also interesting this year is our line-up of the divas and genre diversity. There are six sisters in the house tomorrow.
We have Selmor Mtukudzi-Manatsa who does Zim-traditional contemporary and percussion. There is Clare Nyakujara on jazz blend and Zim-traditional contemporary plus the acoustic guitar.
Vimbai Zimuto is doing mbira and vocals. Sista Kessia, the ever raunchy and wild one, displays fancy footwork through her dazzling dances.
Jackie Nyamutumbu is an exciting young marimba-vocals player and Martha Badza is a mid-career specialist in percussion and vocals. She backed the late Sam Mtukudzi in Ay Band.
And very much in line with our developmental thrust to groom and mentor young talent, the fest features many of our prodigies from Pakare Paye including Munya Mataruse on vocals and acoustic guitar.
Munya’s debut album Dengu reMhodzi is nearly finalised now under the Tuku Music label.
Poda Muriwa, again on acoustic guitar, and vocals, is another of the youngsters we have worked with in our developmental programme, as are Watson Chidzomba Jnr on drums and Simba Mutanga on marimba. Multi-talented Simba has also featured in our latest film Sarawoga.
More seasoned artists in our line-up include Victor Kunonga on vocals and acoustic, Albert Nyathi and Chirikure Chirikure both poets.
Then the King of Marabi himself, Kireni Zulu, will do vocals and acoustic guitar. Ex-Tumbuka’s Mathias Julius and Kuda Ndoro will do dance.
At the end of the day, the solo fest would have covered a mix of genres from vocals, dance, and instruments including guitar, marimba, drums, mbira, hosho, comedy and poetry.
The grand finale is a jam session featuring all the artists on stage together.
Speaking ahead of the solo fest Sulumani Chimbetu said: “The solo fest is unique and also challenging.
We have always played with the backing of our bands, now tomorrow we are on our own to prove our individual talents. I will give it all my best — just me, my guitar and vocals. Fans will certainly enjoy it.”
The solo fest was conceptualised by Tuku who is the executive producer and artistic director. The festival director is Watson Chidzomba and Shepherd Mutamba is first assistant director.
The board of Pakare Paye Arts Centre is humbled with the generous support of the festival partners this year — SPAR, NewsDay, Tuku Music, Chipaz Promotions and Harare Jazz Festival and of course the ever supportive fans, the Norton community and many private individuals and friends of Pakare Paye and Tuku Music. Enjoy!
Shepherd Mutamba is the publicist for Pakare Paye Arts Centre/Tuku Music and solo fest first assistant director