In 1980 the late reggae legend, Robert Nester Marley aka Bob Marley, came to Zimbabwe to perform during the country’s Independence celebrations.
After Marley’s performance more international artistes made their way to Zimbabwe and these included UB40 in 1984 with a performance for 3 000 fans, Brenda Fassie 1985 for 7 000 fans, Gregory Issacs 1988 for 40 000 fans, and Lucky Dube 1989 for 10 000 fans.
After 1989 international acts tremendously decreased and no outstanding performances took place during the ’90s until later in 2008 when American R&B artist Joe Thomas wowed 1 500 fans in Harare.
Since 2008 to date Zimbabwe has become a popular destination for international acts including Maxi Priest, Tevin Campbell, Horace Brown, Sizzla Kalonji, Brick n Lace, Akon, Sean Paul, Elephant Man, Mr Vegas and Beenie Man amongst many others.
Many fans and music lovers have been left disgruntled in a lot of instances while others have been satisfied:
Shingirayi “Shayzar” Zimanyi (Music producer): Sean Paul and Akon did well. The Sean Kingston show was the worst and he was outclassed by all our local performers. The show would have been better if he wasn’t there at all.
Too much money is being wasted on those international artists. It would be wiser if it was invested in the local Culture Fund to do research on how to produce quality products.
In South Africa most R&B and hip-hop acts hold many workshops and indabas educating players in the arts industry and very few have been held here.
Nonku “Blackbird” Vundhla (Musician): I enjoyed the Capleton show because the performance he gave was energy-filled and of the same standard as what I had seen on DVDs of his performances in the US and other parts of the world.
The most disappointing act was at the Lil Kim–Fat Joe-Ciara show because Timbaland was one of the main reasons I bought a $50 ticket, but he cancelled the performance at the last minute.
I was also unimpressed with the opening acts because they were not representative of Zimbabwe’s hottest hip-hop acts.
Lee-Ann Idi (Account executive): Ciara, Lil’ Kim and Phat Joe lived up to their billing. The venue was good, there was good space, a great set-up in terms of stage and lighting and Lira and Kirk Franklin did a good job in their separate shows. The Red Rat show failed to pull crowds to the City Sports Centre.
Batanai Tuwe (Lawyer): Akon was the most exciting act for me probably because it was one of the first and biggest shows so far, but the Beenie Man gig was the best organised though and Sean Kingston was the worst ever.