The school of thought that suggested Alick Macheso was losing ground on local showbiz because of Tongai Moyo’s death could be true, after all.
Drum Beat with Godwin Muzari
Proponents of this view argued that, because of Moyo’s death, Macheso was not feeling any pressure in terms of competition.
It is a fact that there was stiff competition between the two musicians. They fought hard to outclass each other. The competition sometimes degenerated into hatred that spawned the much-publicised “sungura cold war”.
Of course, their differences were also linked to their identical weakness towards the fairer sex that saw them falling for the same choices on a number of occasions, but their contest for fans was outstanding.
However, it was far from many music fans’ imagination that Macheso needed to be threatened to come up with a good album or stage a spectacular gig.
When his latest album Kwatakabva Mitunhu (Kure Kwekure) proved to be below his previous standard, it was widely agreed that Macheso was heading towards the last stages of his music journey.
The general understanding was that, for a musician who had been on top of his game for more than 12 years, it was normal for Macheso’s graph nosedive.
When the numbers began falling at his shows, the common feeling was that he was naturally going the Leonard Zhakata way (gradually losing the crowd-pulling power).
When he cut down his performance hours to the extent of coming on stage around midnight when most fans are too drunk to comprehend their surroundings, the highest likelihood was that Macheso was losing energy since he had come a long way, as his latest album title suggests.
All these were assumptions and attempts to explain — and probably justify — Macheso’s impending downfall.
Very few people thought Macheso needed warning shots to jump to serious action.
It seems Macheso was reclining in his chair feeling that, as the king of sungura, he had total control of his immediate music world.
That complacency almost cost him as young musicians in the form of Sulumani Chimbetu and Jah Prayzah made inroads into his territory.
The duo’s duet titled Sean Timba was the song of the festive season last year.
Their combined shows have drawn the crowds. They have made serious use of slots at national galas to prove their potential to multitudes of fans.
When Sulu bagged three awards at National Arts Merit Awards, signs of a serious invasion into Macheso’s kingdom became apparent. Although Jah Prayzah did not get an award, he was one of the nominees for the Outstanding Song accolade.
That Macheso was not even nominated for the awards made the situation alarming.
The glitz and glamour with which Sulu launched his album in November last year and his stylish way of celebrating the Nama hat-trick sent a strong message about his intention.
Macheso obviously heard the warning shots and realised that Moyo’s death did not mean he now had autonomy over the mass music market.
What Macheso did last weekend at Pamuzinda Highway X-scape and Extra Mile Leisure Spot was unbelievable.
One wonders why Macheso exposed himself to ridicule over the past months when he still has that energy and vigour to set alight any stage. He fought like a wounded lion.
After announcing before the shows that he would perform without supporting acts because he wanted to give fans the best of Orchestra Mberikwazvo performance, Macheso did wonders.
He staged eight-hour breathtaking performances without taking a breather at either show.
His apparent intention was to market his under-performing album through stage work.
He seems to be succeeding in that area and, with more marathon performances in the pipeline; it would not be surprising if the album begins to attract more attention.
Fans are really enjoying the revived performance style.
Macheso has realised that the music industry is like a jungle.
Survival in both worlds is determined by fitness.
While supremacy in the jungle is based on physical strength and hunting acumen, a musician’s fitness is hinged on the power of their stage presentation, song composition and studio work.
There is need for hard work in all these areas for musicians to safeguard their territories and maintain strong fan bases.
With the corporate support that is flocking towards his door, Macheso is set for a powerful comeback.