HomeNewsInnovation, hard work do the trick for Sulumani Chimbetu

Innovation, hard work do the trick for Sulumani Chimbetu


FOR one to succeed in the arts, a combination of talent, innovation and hard work is requisite, but ultimately, the greatest of them all is hard work.


No matter how gifted an artiste may be, they cannot realise success if they do not work hard to cultivate that talent, especially in the Zimbabwean music industry.

As many turn to music in the wake of technological advancements that have made recording much easier, the quality of productions of the day is often poor.

Innovation is dying as many musicians attempt to sound like the successful ones, a phenomenon that has swept across all genres from dancehall to sungura.

In sungura, Alick Macheso, the late Simon Chimbetu and the late Tongai Moyo have been the major pacesetters to the current crop of musicians.

Musicians from the Chimbetu family — Allan, Sulumani, Douglas and Tryson — have all but contributed to keeping the Simon legacy afloat.

But outstanding from these, is Sulu, son to the late maestro Simon.

While Sulu may apparently have little music talent compared to his father, or perhaps some of his siblings, the man has set himself apart from the rest, keeping himself on top of the charts every time he releases something.

But what keeps him on top? Nothing but sheer hard work and the desire to be different.

After investing in several brand strategies — something that many sungura musicians fail to do — Sulu has emerged to be not just a guitar and vocals person.
Sulu has become a brand and role model who has been engaged on several national and international platforms.

Apart from that, Sulu brings something new and different whenever he releases an album.

After popularising inter-genre duets with his famous 2011 song Kwedu in which he featured Oliver Mtukudzi, Sulu led the way for many musicians who later adopted that strategy.

His 2012 album Syllabus had more surprises, major of which was the introduction of the acoustic guitar to dendera music.

It was an instant success.

November 2014, Sulu has done it again on his latest album Gunship.

Packed with 11 songs, most of which have the potential to become hits, the new offering has some interesting bits about it.

Firstly, Sulu’s vocals are pitched in a great new soft way with no shrieks, but just serenading soft choruses — try Moto, Hondo and Idah Nhoro.

With Zimdancehall currently trending, Sulu, like no other, saw it fit to bring in Soul Jah Love of the Chibababa fame.

Featuring on the song Nyuchi, Soul Jah Love combines well with Sulu and there is a part where the instruments sound like a dendera song combined with dancehall — weird but thrilling!

Art is not rigid, but an industry where rules are meant to be broken.

As such when musicians realise the importance of blending different genres, it is only for the good of the music industry and for the benefit of fans as they get to listen to new things.

Track 11, the instrumental to Idah Nhoro is another piece of innovation.

Here we have Tuku’s acoustic guitar, some trumpets and a soft dendera bassline.

But as they say, music is not a one man show. All this hard work is attributable to Sulu’s band, producers, engineers and everyone else included in the making of the album.

What sticks out is that it remains Sulu’s decision to expend on quality in an environment where many musicians choose to cut corners

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