With his groundbreaking, audacious debut album, UK-based Zimbabwean artist Mashasha introduces himself as an “unmissable” new voice on the African music scene.
The self-titled CD is the first production by the newly formed label Elegwa Music. It has been released independently by Elegwa, with the support of Pan- African arts consulting company Sankofa Republik.
Anyone who follows the African music scene in London has by now heard about Mashasha, the charismatic and powerful bass guitar player, composer and singer from Zimbabwe.
Since his arrival in the UK a few years ago, Mashasha has been performing and steadily building a following, mostly as part of the unique and inventive “African drum and bass” duo Mashasha & Sam.
An imposing figure, Mashasha is a compelling personality on stage.
There is a sense of drama and purpose in his bass playing, a sense of urgency in his voice.
He has just enough pride without being overconfident or arrogant, someone who won’t take flak from anyone, but is ready to bare his soul to the audience with complete intimacy and sincerity.
And while his act is socially and politically charged, he manages to avoid cheap sloganeering and clichés, it’s all in the attitude.
Mashasha hails from Old Highfield, Harare.
Born Peter Mujuru, he has been known as Mashasha since his childhood, a nickname that derives from the Shona word shasha meaning expert.
As a teenager his talent was recognised by his neighbour, the iconic Zimbabwean musician, Oliver Mtukudzi.
Mashasha played his first professional gig supporting Oliver on at age 19 (in a band that also included Oliver’s nephew).
Within a short time, Mashasha became one of Harare’s most sought-after session bass players, working with leading artists such as Chiwoniso Maraire, Busi Ncube, Andy Brown and The Storm, Tanga Wekwa Sango, Rute Mbangwa, Zimbabwean rock band Bush Guru, performance poet and activist Comrade Fatso and many more.
From 2005-6, Mashasha was the bass player in the Zimbabwean all-star collaboration project Hupenyu Kumusha (which also featured Maraire and Ncube).
He was also the bass player and co-leader/composer in the cutting-edge Zimbabwean jazz group Too Open, which had developed a cult following and recorded three albums.
It was with Too Open that Mashasha first had the opportunity to perform his own compositions and he also began preparing his own album.
As the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe threatened both the freedom of expression and survival of musicians, Mashasha was becoming increasingly outspoken both in his lyrics and his interviews, including a number for the BBC, which were banned in Zimbabwe.
He soon found himself in exile, like many fellow Zimbabweans, struggling to survive in Britain.