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Hello there Progress, I am just doing a Progress Check on you

Dear Progress

Remember three weeks ago, when I made an impromptu visit to your place?

Progress Chipfumo

A friend that I know for not always being available on his mobile phone, you know how these kind of unannounced visits have become kind of normal whenever I want to check out on the latest in your music career.

That day you told me you were due to release the long-awaited album in two weeks’ time.

I did not believe it because you had previously made such promises but you never kept your word.

I felt short of totally dismissing you kuti hausi serious iwewe [you are not serious], especially considering the noise your fans have been lately making on your Facebook page over your continued delay in releasing a new album.

Having released your last album, Hold My Hand, in 2013, it was now a long four-year wait for your fans, I always told you.

It was only when you started flighting the launch advertisements on social media that I believed your words.

When I looked at the rich list of partners, promoters and stakeholders, I realised that somehow, the new album was finally coming.

You are a man that I have always known for sometimes unnecessarily being casual about many things — including marketing — in your career, but it turned out this time you were setting out on the right path of treating music as a business, and not just a hobby.

For those that know you, you are a man who blatantly crosses the line between your professional and personal life, and perhaps that is what has made you an enigma that you are, a hard-to-define mystery.

Your fans love you and follow you everywhere and you — unlike other musicians — interact with them on and off the stage.

Other musicians — including rivals — acknowledge your talent and others believe you are one of the greatest musicians who is just not on the lucky side of life, and others believe you could do a little more to make your talent widely appreciated.

Your name is not always in the press, neither is your face always on TV, but you very well know in casual street conversations, many concede that you have immense talent.

Interestingly, it appears to many that after going through some misfortunes that include imprisonment and illness, you had all along accepted that all you had to do was play the underdog all the time.

Underdog or no underdog, you have, in the recent past featured on several successful songs and your signature guitar riffs or vocals have been distinctly outstanding in those songs.

Yet, you have not made big noise about it, which is exactly who you really are, quite lamentably, a man of little words and more music.

I have had to accept that about you and not push you. I just had to attend your shows and cheer you on because I believe that nothing makes you more satisfied than strumming that guitar and singing with your eyes closed like you are in some kind of a trance.

Whether or not you had it in your mind to turn your talent, brand and band into a vibrant business, I have no idea.

What I only knew is that the day you decide to do that, your brand grows and your talent starts to be recognised.

It was only with the aggressive marketing of the launch of your album and changes that you made to the way you run your musical affairs — details of which I will not give out — that it became apparent you were now geared to claim that well-deserved top post in the country’s music industry.

Success immediately followed as the venue of the album — Jazz 24/7 — was packed and part of Sam Nujoma Street was turned into a car park as revellers jostled to witness the launch of the aptly named album Progress Check.

A progress check indeed shows there is some considerable progress in the way you are starting to do things.

Although I did not spend a long time at the venue due to circumstances beyond my control, everything looked in perfect order at the launch.

But it is not dawn yet, my friend.

You still need to do more — and that is to be engaging and to effect brand management strategies and you will see how that will pay off later on.

The album, Progress Check

It is easy to fall in love with the opening track, Chikuru Rudo. Many are familiar with some of the lines on the song as he added them to Leornard Zhakata’s awar-winning hit, Madam Boss.

What makes it beautiful is that when he was asked to do the guitar on Madam Boss, Progress ended up adding a chorus of the yet to be released Chikuru Rudo.

Now, listeners will listen to Progress’ version of the chorus, which is backed a beat softer to that of Madam Boss.

The song that has got me hooked such that I have repeated it over a hundred times is Vakarohwa Mai.

The mellow sound matches the emotional words of a child who is in a dilemma on how to love his father who used to beat up his mother.

In this song, he poses direct questions to his father and mother about their separation.

This is a song that one can softly dance to with eyes closed in deep thought.

Diversity is in the album with the two versions of Look Up the Sky — both in different styles of reggae and Vabereki, which has a mbaqan’a flavour.

I am a bit dissapointed by the reggaeish version of Tokwe Mukorsi. I prefer the original one.

All the songs are, however, finely produced that all the vocals and instruments fuse together, many thanks to Progress, particular attention to sound, his carefully selected members of Sounds of the Motherland, the great mixing and production by Clive “Mono” Mukundu and Maselo.

I am confident that, my friend Progress, if you take on that path, your greatness will be finally recognised.

Meanwhile, it is time to listen to Progress Check!

Yours

Tapiwa Zivira

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