The country’s harsh economic situation has forced the legendary music icon Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi to settle for cheap, less-prominent gigs alongside lowly ranked musicians, it has emerged.
By STAFF REPORTER
Tuku’s presence at any local event during his peak at the turn of the millennium was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity open for the financially privileged who would attend his exorbitantly-priced shows at upmarket clubs.
The Dzoka Uyamwe singer’s calendar would be marked by a series of international tours and would accommodate a few local shows around the country at “big venues”.
His brand was a rare, but treasured commodity and his performance at open spaces was an oddity, even during national events.
While other artists jostled for a slot in the once famous music galas, Tuku’s maiden performance was at the Uhuru celebrations in 2011.
But the once soaring star is apparently losing his lustre on the local scene and is sharing the stage with less-prominent artists at lowly charged venues.
Music critic Fred Zindi told The Standard Style that the dire economic situation had forced local musicians to review their gate charges downwards and Tuku is ostensibly not a sacred cow.
“Artists have realised the difficult economic environment we are faced with,” Zindi said.
“People do not want to pay to go into concerts these days, yet Zimbabweans love their pleasure so to fill up venues, artists have resolved to reduce the entry fees.”
Tuku recently performed at the album launch of newcomer Sam Dondo along with other top musicians of the purported “Big Five”, a scenario Zindi dismissed as disastrous for the legend’s brand.
“I do not think that, as humble as Oliver Mtukudzi is, he should open up for junior artists, for instance Sam Dondo,” said Zindi.
“That turned out to be a disaster as a result of giving prominence to an unknown artist.”
Zindi said the musician would maintain his worth outside the country’s borders if he continues to release good music.
Meanwhile, the Black Spirits band front-man has been trending on social media for the better half of this past week for performing at the Zanu PF million-man-march.
The issue roused mixed reactions among fans, with many saying he should have remained politically neutral by not performing at the political event.
Director of music marketing and distribution company — Jive Zimbabwe — Benjamin Nyandoro said neutrality is a prerequisite component artists should respect.
Artists are generally well-received by the market if they present themselves as neutral players across race, tribe, religion, sport and politics among other issues,” he said.
Nyandoro suggested that Mtukudzi’s case was a mere offering of services, but said the consequences made it unadvisable for musicians as they could be seen as taking sides.
“There are enough cases that confirm disadvantages of pouring support, but the recent Mtukudzi performance at the million-man march is a mere performance service, however discouraged,” said Nyandoro.
Twitter was fired up with the issue, with some reminiscing on the old days when the singer would not have performed at such an event.