BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
SHE is 58, has clocked 34 years on the music scene and despite having lost colleagues who were part of the much-decorated music outfit, Ilanga, that included Andy Brown, Don Gumbo and Dickson Chingaira (Comrade Chinx), among others, Busi Ncube has survived to tell a breath-taking music tale. Famed for her monster track True Love, Ncube has a unique gift in languages, playing mbira and reminiscences her days with the celebrated band that was not short of talent given how successful each of them later launched glittering solo careers.
The musical journey
I have been in the music industry for the past 34 years as a recording and performing artiste. I sing, play the guitar, mbira and percussions. I have so far recorded 12 albums under my name. My latest album that was released in 2020 was recorded both in Norway and Zimbabwe. I have travelled far and wide and shared the stage with both Zimbabwean and foreign artistes.
How she ended up in Norway
I migrated to Norway because of my job, I am a teacher by profession and here, I work as a child and youth worker.
I work with a lot of children, but I am still doing music. My last live gig was on September 26 in Oslo at the Women’s International Festival and my next show is scheduled for March this year. For the performances, I do perform both with the band and sometimes I ride solo.
Of rich pickings from live concerts
It is profitable to be playing live music in Norway as we have rates that are laid down for every artiste that plays. I have been doing it for a while and I know of some artistes from Zimbabwe who have also benefited from festivals here.
Greatest career highlights
My greatest highlight was when I became the first female to have a hit single which came up first on the top 10 songs of radio stations and stayed on top for many weeks. Featuring renowned artistes for the human rights show in 1987 and playing for the late first President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe’s inauguration in 1980 was also another major highlight of my career. I also had the opportunity to travel to different places and perform at festivals.
Perception on Zim’s music industry
I think the Zimbabwean music industry has grown because more and more stars are being produced in the country. I am proud to see more young artistes emerging and doing wonders both in the Zimbabwean music scene and on the international arena. The music industry has grown, it has grown in its own way. I don’t think I have regrets at all.
At the moment, there is nothing that I have produced for this year yet because of the situation that we are in, but there is still a lot in the pipeline that I will have to do. If we come out of this situation, then I can do some recordings and then collaborate with some artistes. My resolutions are to be able to come back some day, share, build and work with youths as I have learnt a lot as a child and a youth worker in Norway.
I had to study for four years as an adult to be the professional child and youth worker and it’s never too late and I would like to pass the knowledge to the youths in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean support here and at home is overwhelming, without it the great people of Zimbabwe wouldn’t have made it.
To be who I am today, I owe it to them and fans that still enjoy the music I still play today, from Ilanga up to today.
Best moments with the Ilanga band
I have best of memories with the band because we managed to travel to different countries and also performed on international stages. I also raised our flag high as we managed to impress our fans out there. We were overwhelmed by the support we got from our international fans and the fact that we didn’t know that we were that popular. We managed to achieve a lot as a band.
- Follow Freeman on Twitter@freemanmakopa