. . . as new thrilling album, ‘Mhepo Inoperekedza’, is launched
IT was always going to be an almost impossible mission to outdo Ebenezer-Tiri Munyasha, a track which became a “national anthem” in music circles last year.
BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
But Togarepi Chivaviro is a bold man. Before the hype stirred by this blockbuster song — featuring gospel gurus Mechanic Manyeruke, Charles Charamba, Noel Zembe, Lawrence Haisa, Bethen Pasinawako Ngolomi, Rumbi Zvirikuzhe and Kudzi Nyakudya — had settled, he was back in the studio crafting its successor.
Mhepo Inoperekedza — Tiri Munyasha 2 was launched at a colourful ceremony attended by several parliamentarians including Deputy Speaker, Mabel Chinomona and Nelson Chamisa in Harare on Wednesday night.
National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) director, Elvas Mari, guest of honour, Philip Chiyangwa, Open University vice-chancellor, Primrose Kurasha and her husband Jameson, worshippers Josh Kays and Takesure Zama, as well as Mathias Mhere were also in attendance.
The seven songs on the new eight-track album, which includes an instrumental, may not knock down the record set by Ebenezer — Tiri Munyasha, but they are proof Chivaviro has set a new trajectory in a music career that — even 10 albums later — had been fledgling, according to his executive producer, Allen Dzobo.
Music expert, Fred Zindi told the gathering that when he first heard the song last year, it “knocked me out” and he felt it was “an incredible tune”.
The professor also said music piracy could only be countered by a watertight marketing strategy including launching albums and making them more available to the market.
“I told Jah Prayzah and his manager to continue launching albums because that’s the only way to market music and curb piracy,” he said.
Mari, the Nacz director, implored legislators, who attended the launch, to help the council fight the scourge of piracy, through which musicians were being ripped off.
He called on the government to facilitate the setting up of a copyright tribunal as provided for in the Copyright Act to specifically deal with issues of piracy, which has become the bane of many an artiste.
“The problem with the current system is that sometimes even the magistrates don’t even understand why they have to try someone for ‘burning’ because they are also probably listening to music copied illegally,” Mari said.
He said it was these same artistes to which legislators appealed for votes during elections and the least they could do in return was to ensure that their work was protected from pirates and they could earn something substantial from their labour.
“When you get these votes, may you please support these people. They don’t need your money, but they need facilities where they can work — not stadiums, but facilities where they can have their works recorded and produced,” Mari said.
He said it was time that music was viewed as an income generating project and called for the setting up of cultural centres in Harare and other cities that can be used by artistes.
The Chiyangwa factor
Chiyangwa, the Zimbabwe Football Association president, said he had tried his hand at everything — from boxing to music and now football.
He said most of the things he did — including music promotion — were sacrifices that did not bring him much financial benefit, but he did it then for the love of music.
“I have a history in music, from rhumba, you remember Soukous, even in wrestling and boxing.
“It was a sacrifice. It didn’t pay, but if you look at a good musician, you realise that music brings peace to you,” Chiyangwa said.
“We have heard good music from Chivaviro, and some of the songs (from the album) are going to be hits, as they are sing along songs.”
He said musicians rarely made money from their work, but often did it out of passion.
The highlight of the event was when Chiyangwa pledged a stand to Chivaviro, who had told the businessman he wanted a church stand.
For Chivaviro, the journey had been long. After producing nine albums, it appeared as if he would never break the jinx that appeared to have barred him from crème de la crème of gospel music.
It took a collaborative effort in Ebenezer to break the spell — and after the song went viral, people started taking notice.
The song has set him up for a new high in his career, as the latest album, Mhepo Inoperekedza, seemed to have taken off from where its predecessor left.
Speaking at the launch, the producer Dzobo spoke of the long journey of sweat, heartbreak and getting peanuts that they travelled together with Chivaviro, stressing that their determination finally paid off when they started doing collaborations and creating a new style — a departure from their traditional hymnal approach. Ebenezer was one of those collaborations.
“It was only in 2010 when things started to break for us and nominations for awards started. In 2015, we released Ebenezer, a song in which we were saying thank you, despite all the past hardships and that song was the game changer,” he said.