An exquisite ambiance characterised this year’s edition of the annual Spar Solo Fest extravaganza where an array of renowned acts from various genres of arts including music, poetry, dance, comedy, drama and storytelling graced the stage for solo performances on Saturday night.
The venue was the Sam Mtukudzi Conference Centre at Pakare Paye in Norton. Since Friday, the centre was a hype of activity with pupils from schools around Norton, Bindura and Harare showcasing their talent at a free show before the main concert.
The festival kicked off at midday covering a mix of genres from vocals, dance and instruments including guitar, percussion, marimba, mbira and hosho.
Young and upcoming jazz musician Donald Kanyuchi’s opening performance arguably set the pace for the festival as he thrilled the fans with his acoustic skills.
Bass guitarist and jazz sensation Edith WeUtonga also put up an amazing performance that got revellers singing along to songs from her album WeUtonga that included Siya Waoneka, Mukaranga, Royera Kure and Chipendani.
As the night progressed, the tempo of the show was steadily rising to higher levels as some of the musical greats took turns to perform.
Dendera star Sulumani Chimbetu made a lasting impression and took the fans down memory lane as he belted out hit tracks of his late father (Simon Chimbetu)’s albums including songs like Gotwe, Njiva and the song he collaborated on with Oliver Mtukudzi, Kwedu.
Legendary musician and icon Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi delivered a brilliant performance that truly justified his superstar status cementing the fact that he is still going strong. Audiences could not help singing along to some of his old-time tunes such as Hosanna and Huroyi.
Jazz star in the making Munya Mataruse also staged a remarkable performance showing his prowess on vocals and acoustic guitar as he took time to thank the sponsors of the festival, Spar and NewsDay, and got the fans into a dancing mood as he performed song like Kure Kure by the late James Chimombe, Musharudziiko (Leonard Dembo) and Kisimusi Ifikile by the late Paul Matavire.
Other artists who staged notable performances include Steve Makoni, Fungisai Zvakavapano, Steve Dyer, Freddie Manjalima — popularly known as Kapfupi — and Strovers Shadaya.
In an interview with NewsDay on the sidelines of the festival, assistant director Shepherd Mutamba said: “It’s amazing to note that the festival has continuously grown in stature and this is exemplified by the wide range and calibre of artists that have taken part in this year’s edition.
“It is our hope that the festival continuously caters for the needs of the artists and the audiences,” said Mutamba.
Munya Mataruse also praised the Solo Fest for having allowed him to gain experience.
“I’m humbled by the experience that I have gained from this initiative.
“My confidence has grown as an artist and this platform has paved way for me to continuously realise my talent and growth as an artist,” said Mataruse.
Solo Fest is the brainchild of Tuku who is the executive producer and artistic director of the festival.
The event has grown in stature over the years from being an in house affair to the Pakare Paye family to become one of the biggest national platforms to showcase local talent.