SNEAK PEEK Freeman Makopa
CONTEMPORARY musician Jah Prayzah has become a force to reckon with in local music over the last few years.
NewsDay Life & Style Reporter Freeman Makopa (ND) speaks to the artiste’s manager, Keen Mushapaidze (KM), on the intricacies of spearheading Jah Prayzah’s growth.
ND: Can you give us an overview of your experience as Jah Prayzah’s manager?
KM: Over the years, I think we are looking at 10 to 11 years now since the emergence of Jah Prayzah on the mainstream entertainment scene, from the days of Sungano back in 2009 to now, Jah Prayzah had a vision to grow. Starting with Mother Filo (former manager Filda Muchabaiwa), we have been pushing the same vision since I came through in 2015. For me, the idea was to make sure Jah Prayzah reached his targets. But I must admit it has been a tough journey.
ND: In many ways, Jah Prayzah seems to have professionalised musicianship. Tell us more on this?
KM: In the past, people used to say the industry was a last option in life, and that perception is there. So, we are trying to change that, hence our decision to open an office in 2014. We then opened a studio, JP Studios, and registered the company in 2015.
We have been trying new things that haven’t been done in the industry before and we have managed to do that and, in the process, inspired other upcoming artistes who are following in the similar steps.
ND: Can you share with us the major challenges you faced in this industry?
KM: Jah Prayzah has been known to produce good music from the beginning, so as you embark on this kind of a journey, you face the pressure for consistency. JP is someone who has been known from the beginning for his hits like Sungano and Tsviriyo. So there is pressure to be consistent, while maturing in music. I think over the last 10 years, we have managed to do that, but that pressure does not cease, meaning we should continue to grow.
ND: Jah Prayzah did a collaboration with the late music grandee Oliver Mtukudzi. How did that help to shape his career?
KM: The late Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi was Jah Prayzah’s major source of inspiration. He wrote that in his documentary. So having to collaborate with the
legend was a dream come true and also a sign to Jah Prayzah that if you dream it, you can achieve it.
You are looking at someone who has pushed you to doing music and now you are doing a song with that icon, so it’s an issue of pushing your dream. You see Jah Prayzah posting videos on his (social media) pages, it’s all because of what the late icon used to say, that you must document what you do.
ND: Jah Prayzah has done perhaps the highest number of collaborations with some of Africa’s finest musicians. What is the secret?
KM: The idea is to establish whether there will be good music between two musicians. It’s not about saying Jah Prayzah is a big brand, so he needs to sing with Celine Dion. We must look at issues like: Does their music blend?
As an artiste, you need to be a global leader and to achieve that, you need endorsement of other countries. So you are looking at whether the other musician is in a position to increase your value in their country.
ND: Your last words?
KM: We want to continue to improve the Military Touch Movement brand so that we groom more talent and grow as a brand in the region and in all continents