DENDERA crooner Tryson Chimbetu who, for the better part of his elementary music time, stuck to the original dendera beat and message, has carved a new niche that offers a well-woven offering with a different beat.
SOUND TRACK: Takemore Mazuruse
The eight-track album, Kana Mazogara, is a stubborn yet convincing departure from the Tryson of old, known mostly for his laid back and “haunting” dendera music.
Tryson’s new album carries tracks Mamero, Mai Maria featuring Andy Muridzo, African Girl featuring Soul Jah Love, Ndazomuwana, Tochema Kuna Mwari, Chipoko, BP and Ndakunyorera Chimbo.
The fast maturing musician reckons the new production is a feedback album in that his band had to respect the wishes of their followers.
Tryson said he had to settle for a beat and message that is in sync with the times.
“Most of the songs are love songs and fast beats. In my past productions, I wasn’t doing fast beats and love songs, so I opted for messages that relate to my listeners’ daily life rather than the usual ‘horror messages’ we used to be known for. This is more of a happy listeners’ feedback album meant to whet their appetite for a more celebratory sound,” he said.
Tryson also highlighted that save for songs like Tenda, the dendera music of old requires one to listen to it in a relaxed environment that allows one to reflect deeply on life.
“With regards to the original dendera sound, I think I have proved my mettle with the previous albums and it was about time I showcased my versatility,” he said.
On feedback from fans and listeners, Tryson said he was encouraged by the show of support and the rotation the music is now getting from clubs and DJs.
“We had to revolutionise the sound up to a standard where we can collaborate with an artiste from anywhere, and you will notice that we have songs like African Girl featuring Soul Jah Love, which is designed for the international market through platforms like Trace TV, Channel O and MTV Base,” he said.
Chimbetu also revealed that dendera music was a product of a multi-genre revolution and has continued to develop over time, hence there was nothing amiss with his new direction.
“From the early days, dendera music has continued to change from time to time. The beat started in the early 1980s, changing with time, but the first song produced by our fathers branded this Zimbabwean rhumba kanindo into what is known to all Zimbabweans as dendera music. What we are doing today is value addition rather than changing the sound,” he said.
“We are improving the beat up to Simon Chimbetu’s Ndisiye Nditambe Karhumba. That’s the umbrella word of this Zimbabwean rhumba music called dendera and is designed to differentiate it from its rhumba and kanindo roots.”
Tryson also revealed that the original dendera founders, Naison and Simon, started their music careers in Tanzania.
“If you listen to their voices, you notice Naison’s hoarse sound is like that used by rhumba kings like Super Mazembe, Les Wanyika from DRC and up to this day, it’s still followed by the likes of Koffi Olomide,” he said.
Simon and Naison also sang in Swahili and Tryson reckons the rhumba feel in some of the songs on the new album is in sync with the origins of dendera, which defines the Chimbetus who originally hailed from Tukuyu Mbeya in Tanzania.
“Our fathers sang about their origin in some of the Swahili songs and in the title track, Kana Mazogara, I try to maintain and fuse that originality,” he said.
Tryson also spoke of the female voice on the album, which is a complete departure from the dendera way of doing things.
“The female voice was provided by Mirriam Chimbetu, the last-born of the late Naison,” he said.
Mirriam’s talent was discovered by our late father at a tender age.
“She was like a music bank to dad because whenever he composed a new song, he sang with Miriam, and she would memorise it with its original sound and tune. He would always refer to her when it was time to record,” Tryson said.
The father of one intimated that having Mirriam on the new album was simply respecting his father’s unwritten wishes.
“Taking a closer look into history, I discovered that if my father didn’t want my sister to sing dendera music, he wouldn’t have taught a young girl those vocal chords which I realised were reserved for the future,” he said.
True to the crooner’s assertion, his type of dendera now has a sweet female voice to balance the traditional high pitches it has become known for.
“She is here to stay and she is a bright talent. This is just the beginning, because she is doing serious guitar and piano lessons. More of her is to be expected in future productions,” he said.
Tryson, who at one time was reported to be on separation with his wife, also spoke glowingly of his family and described his wife as the African Girl in the duet with Soul Jah Love.
“I had to enlist the services of the hottest producers of our time, among them Oskid, Lavaz, Dallas, Dkt as well as Munya and Tayt Vialy for a clear sound, in view of the feedback we got on the previous effort and the result is a much loved effort,” he said.
The only blemish on the album is perhaps a sing along chorus on the song Mai Maria, which some have argued is not family-friendly. While it may be early days yet, the dendera crooner seems to have struck the right chords, and it is hoped the new album will hold its own amidst competition from fellow musicians.