Songbird, Varaidzo Nyakunika is one of the rising talents of Zimbabwean music, with songs like Ruva Rangu, Ndakuwana and Chii Chaunoda making waves on local radio stations and television.
BY Nicola Gibson
The 23-year-old is not only a sensational musician, but a holder of an International Relations degree. She is also studying law at Rhodes University in South Africa.
Last week, she told The Standard Style that music was part of her DNA.
“I think my passion and love for music is natural. I remember dressing up and going outside in the garden to spend the afternoon singing. I would use a stick or deodorant bottle as a microphone and would be fascinated by how my voice could do amazing things without even trying hard. I honestly didn’t think it would become a reality,” she said.
Nyakunika, who was born and bred in Harare, said she was inspired by her grandfather who was part of Thomas Mapfumo’s Blacks Unlimited outfit.
“I was inspired by my grandfather, who was also a musician. He used to be part of Thomas Mapfumo’s band. My uncle DJ Dollar Bill was musically talented too,” she said.
A product of Arundel Girls High School, Nyakunika believes her work ethic was strong even as a young girl as she would dedicate herself to cultural activities at school.
“Apart from school activities, I would spend most of my time singing alone at home, which perfected my voice,” she said.
Her notable achievement in the industry was when she was nominated for the Best R&B and Best Female Artist categories at the Zimbabwe Music Awards in 2014 and 2015. Although she did not win the awards, she feels being nominated alongside stars like Cynthia Mare was a major accomplishment.
Gifted with a plethora of talents, Nyakunu is also a model.
“When I was 13 years old, I was the face of Deep Skin products by Kiri Davies and at 16, I was a model at the Harare Fashion Week and so many other things were happening to me,” she said.
“I’m no longer doing much of modelling because of school commitments, but I was once a successful model with titles like Miss Sunshine City Harare in 2007 and second princess at Miss Zimbabwe Junior in 2008.”
Nyakunika recorded her first project, the single Ndakuwana when she was 17 years old. The song became an instant hit and was number two on the Power FM Top Chats.
“Music was always part of my life. I recorded my first single titled Ndakuwana, which marked my first time in the studio. The song was inspired by love,” she said.
Following the success of her first single, she recorded a self-titled album Varaidzo, which also marked her entrance into the music industry.
“The album was an introduction of Varaidzo the artist and Varaidzo the person,” she said.
“It was a platform where I could explore my voice, writing skills and emotions. I sang about different subjects and exhibited everything that I had learnt since I started my career.”
The young artist has also ventured into entrepreneurship.
“I have an online shop where I sell sunglasses and hair products. It’s called Vdbyvaraidzo and I ventured into this kind of business because of my love for fashion. I love seeing women looking at their best, so I thought to myself, ‘why should I not bring the stuff American women wear to Zimbabwe’?” she said.
“My parents taught me to work hard. I have been asked how I balance school and music. When it’s time for school, I’m all about books and when I’m home that’s when I focus on my music.”
She said her family was her biggest supporter although at first they did not approve of her venturing into music.
The songbird has had collaborations with other Zimbabwean artists that include Leonard Mapfumo in a song called Ndoita Manyemwe and Sani Makalima in the song Mudhuze.
“I have also worked with Ex Q in Unondigama, Maskiri in Ndinokuda and I also did Wangu with Elliot,” she said.
She recently released a single Chii Chaunoda.
A big fan of American singer Mariah Carey, Nyakunika listens to all kinds of music, but she singled out Oliver Mtukudzi and Tererai Mugwadi as her favourite musicians.