Veteran music engineer and producer, Bothwell Nyamhondera (BN) is undoubtedly one of the best music arrangers in the country after having worked with most of the country’s biggest musical giants like Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi and the late James Chimombe.
Since 1975 he performed with various bands including the Sound Power Band, Vibrations Band, Run Band and Octave Band that had musicians like Tanga WekwaSando, Louis Mhlanga, Henry Peters and Eppias Paradza.
In 1980 he joined Shed Studio as a trainee engineer and in 1982 he joined Gramma Records as an engineer before being promoted to producer and worked in that capacity for 22 years until his retirement in 2004.
NewsDay (ND) entertainment reporter Tinashe Sibanda caught up with the music expert who is still freelancing and doing his own music projects and had a discussion on the current state of the local music industry.
ND: What is your view on the current local music industry?
BN: The main problem is piracy. But the industry is still very viable as there have been lots of positive developments through technology. The youngsters are coming up with new styles of music although I feel they are rushing to complete recording their songs without perfecting them.
ND: What are your recommendations for improvement?
BN: There is need to clamp down on piracy. Of course it can’t be stopped completely but there is need for stiffer regulations. It needs to be eliminated and that can happen if there are heavy penalties in place for pirates.
ND: What kind of skills would you like to see in place for improvement in the music industry?
BN: The artists’ approach to music needs to change. They take it as part- time job yet it also needs professionalism like any business. There is need for good publicity strategies, professional managers and discipline in artists.
ND: In your view, who are the major stakeholders in the local music industry?
BN: They are quite diverse. Reporters, recording companies, artists, the government ministry responsible for the industry, promoters, magazines, radio stations and of course the public that buys the music.
ND: From your own experience what are the major obstacles to the development of the local music industry?
BN: Right now there are no obstacles really. Professionalism is what is important. Long back there was no developed technology — then there were many obstacles — but now there are lots of promoters, acclaimed musicians touring with the young and upcoming ones and many galas that give them a chance to perform. Maybe purchasing of equipment might be a challenge to some of them.
ND: Where do you see the local music industry in the near future?
BN: Unless we change the approach on piracy, it will die! I am hoping the responsible authorities will do something. But if the trend remains unchecked people would only go for home studios and live bands and record companies will suffer.
ND: Which personalities and organisations have played a major role in building the music industry?
BN: Grammar Records, the Zimbabwe Music Cooperation, Record and Tape Promotions, ZBC and other media houses.
ND: What are you currently doing music wise?
BN: I do recording and production at Last Power Media Recording Studio which I’m running with Alick Macheso and Laston Murerwa.
ND: Tell me about your family.
BN: I am married to Spiwe. We have three children Sinikiwe, Sibongile and Farai plus one grandchild named Krystal. We live in Mabelreign.