Local artists are set to benefit from the launch of Trace Africa, a music television channel targeted at southern Africa.
By Moses Mugugunyeki
Trace Africa is one of the three regionally-focused music channels in Africa that Modern Times Group-owned youth music and lifestyle broadcaster Trace promised to unveil this year. Trace Africa started airing at the beginning of the month.
The channels are carried by Multi Choice’s DStv platform.
For long, Zimbabwean music has been playing second fiddle to east and west Africa as well as South Africa due to lack of exposure. There has been no joy for Zimbabwean artists at MTV Africa Music Awards, which have been dominated by Nigerian and South African artists.
Several local artists who spoke to The Standard Style last week welcomed Trace Africa, saying it would go a long way in exposing Zimbabwean talent.
Afro-jazz musician and actress Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana said the new channel was a welcome development for Zimbabwean music.
“This will help put more Zimbabwean talent on the regional platform,” she said. “It will also increase the quality of our video productions and will see more Zimbabwean artists getting more recognition regionally and internationally.”
Her sentiments were echoed by another Afro-jazz artist Diana “Mangwenya” Samkange, who said the channel was long overdue.
“Well, it basically means more coverage for southern African artists and it means a wider fan base, which is what every musician thrives for,” she said.
“Hopefully, it will be a platform for Zimbabweans to market themselves and put the country on the map as far as music is concerned.”
Gary Tight, son to musician Willom Tight, said he had been longing for such a platform. While his father’s music has regularly featured on regional channels like Channel O and Mzansi Music, Gary believes Trace Africa would spur creativity and showcase Zimbabwean talent.
“This is a beautiful platform for us musicians, especially us Zimbabweans. We have been dying for this platform because it will help take our music to international level,” said the Pakare Paya Arts Centre prodigy.
Upcoming musician, Brian Kadengu, who on Thursday released a video of his latest offering Heavy Machine, said Trace Africa had played a number of Zimbabwean music videos since its inception two weeks ago.
“It had been difficult to get video airplay on the big television channels, especially if you are an artist from Zimbabwe. But since they opened Trace Africa, we have seen some Zimbabwean videos on the new channel,” he said.
“I am very positive, it will help local artist get exposure and recognition.”
Germany-based Zimbabwean rapper and hip-hop singer, Herbert Qwela Schwamborn, popularly known in the music circles as Metaphysics said he had been a fan of Trace since it was first launched in Europe and he believed its new baby, Trace Africa was advocating for African renaissance and uniting the continent through arts. He said it would be a boon for the Zimbabwean arts industry.
“Zimbabwean artists are starting to have an impact on Africa and this new television channel will open new avenues and expose our talent to a broader audience,” said the artist, who is a member of the multi-platinum selling German band Sons of Mannheim.
Trace Africa serves viewers with a mix of music videos, specials and documentaries, covering genres like kwaito, house, sungura, coupé-décalé, Afro-pop, rumba and ndombolo.
Apart from Trace Africa, Trace will also unveil Trace Mziki, an east Africa channel made in Swahili and English. The channel will provide music, including Ugandan and Tanzanian hits and genres such as Bongo Flavas.
For western Africa, Trace will launch Trace Naija, spinning genres including Afro beats, Afro pop and hip life.
Trace’s chief executive officer Olivier Laouchez, said: “Trace is already the leading music brand in Africa. These three new localised music channels will help promote more artists from the three biggest music hubs of Africa and they will better serve the strong need of the local audiences for great local content.”
MultiChoice Zimbabwe publicity and public relations manager Liz Dziva said viewers on the Premium, Compact + and Compact bouquets will be spoilt for choice with a wide selection of authentic African music and stars on Channel 326.
She said viewers can look forward to shows such as African Hit 10, a daily countdown of the best hits from Africa; New, a programme that focuses on the latest releases and freshest tunes by local talent and Guest Star, which is a programme that puts the spotlight on the hottest southern African stars. Queen Vee’s video Mari Mari, which features Soul Jah Love, Tocky Vibes’s video and Jah Prayzah’s video Watora Mari, featuring Tanzanian superstar Diamond Platnumz, have so far been played on Trace Africa.