IT appears young artistes who are venturing into the music industry of late have succumbed to singing dancehall and hip-hop as they seem to be the trending genres. However, upcoming musician Ransom Madzamba believes traditional music is the ‘only’ genre which can take Zimbabwean music onto the international scene. Madzamba has since dropped two singles, Huya Tigare and Ndozvireva, ahead of his debut album titled Ndozvireva, set to be released next month. NewsDay Life & Style reporter, Precious Chida (ND),caught up with Madzamba (RM), who opened up about his music career. Below are excerpts from the interview.
ND: Who is Ransom Madzamba?
RM. Ransom Madzamba is a 34 years old man who is a communicator by profession. I am an academic, but my passion lies in mbira and traditional music. I hold various academic qualifications that include a first degree in media and a master’s degree in the same field as well. I have another master’s degree in International Relations and recently enrolled to study for a doctorate in communication.
ND: What inspired you to be a musician?
RM: I became intimate with the mbira instrument when I was at Midlands State University. I looked for a personal mbira teacher and later started playing mbira music to fellow students in one of the halls at the campus and from there, I became passionate about mbira and traditional music.
ND: What type of music do you sing?
RM: Traditional music runs in my blood. I am a cultural activist because I enjoy preserving that which identifies me as an African as I am proud being one.
ND: Tell us about your two singles?
RM: My singles Huya Tigare and Ndozvireva are the first songs that I have recorded. I wrote Huya Tigare after I realised that a lot of relationships were breaking up or failing to materialise because either the girl or the boy would have gone abroad for the so-called greener pastures. So, the song is about a male who is begging his sweetheart to come back home to materialise their marriage for it has been long. Ndozvireva is a song about an orphan who is narrating his or her life upon the passing on of the parents.
ND: What challenges you are facing as an upcoming musician?
RM: Music requires one to strategises intelligently in order to spread or sale it (music), but this can be difficult to an upcoming musician. I believe a song can sell itself and I am going to make sure I make projects that the majority will love. I am not new in this industry so I will definitely take mbira to the world.
ND: Tell us about your upcoming album
RM: My upcoming album, which carries six songs, is full of fireworks. Mbira is the dominant instrument in all the songs. The album will be a mixed bag as the songs are about love and social issues. There is also a flair of jiti in some songs. The album will be launched next month together with two videos. The launch shall be a big one as there are a number of artistes who are eager to perform at the event.
ND: Who is your inspiration?
RM: I am inspired by the late Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo. They have managed to go international with traditional music. They have never been by other genres. They always sing about Africa and Zimbabwe.
ND: Do you think being educated can add value to the music industry?
RM: Education, indeed, adds value to the music industry. Many people have been wondering how a person with two masters’ degrees and now pursuing a PhD study would venture into music, of all things. One can make use of his or her intelligence in shaping him or her musically. I have done a lot of research in music and that is, indeed, helpful as one will know how to go about it and trigger the right buttons for own good. Remember, music is any industry, there is competition and one needs to formulate a good strategy in order to stay in the game.
ND: What is your take on the way young people perceive traditional music?
RM: African youths always believe anything from the west is the best. Cultural imperialism had a negative impact on today’s youth. But there is no way one would go international if their music genre is not traditional. People out there are eager to explore what the Zimbabwean or African music is like. Americans have pop and hip-hop music, while Zimbabweans enjoy mbira music and that is why you realise some of these artistes when they go outside the country, they only perform for a handful of Zimbabwean diasporas.
ND: Has traditional music managed to stand the test of time?
RM: The late Mtukudzi and Mapfumo have managed to go international, with their traditional music appealing to a greater and larger audience. So, yes afro music has managed to stand the test of time.
ND: What do you think is the secret to making it in the music industry?
RM: The music industry, just like any other industry is competitive. The industry just requires someone who is focused. Above all, it is always good to listen to your fans for not everyone can be your fan. Just fight to increase your fan-base. But above all, do all your best to come up with something that you regard as the best.