Busi Ncube, who shot to prominence as a vocalist with Ilanga in the late 1980s, says a lot of work still needs to be done to support female musicians in Zimbabwe.
By KB Mpofu
In an interview with The Standard Style ahead of the launch of her new album, Usiko last Friday in Bulawayo, Ncube said while Zimbabwe has the talent, “there’s still a huge deficit in the ratio of female musicians, compared to our male counterparts in the industry. I think what we need is a mentorship programme that is on the ground, to mentor female artists.
“Some years back, I did work with women musicians in Zimbabwe and I am the one that started it. It went well, I took children from here and from all over and I was doing camps. The Dudu Manhengas, Tsungirai Tsikira and others came through from those camps. Unfortunately, there was no continuity when I went away; also, there was a lack of funding at the end.”
Usiko, her ninth studio album, was recorded at 10th District Music in Bulawayo.
She said her fans can look forward to tracks such as Umuzi Kababa, Thula Africa and Mufaro, which feature veteran musician, Hudson Simbarashe.
“I collaborated a lot with Bulawayo-based musicians on this project. Hudson Simbarashe played a big role and we also worked with other artists such as Providence Sibanda, who was doing bass guitar and then we put in the drummer, Lungile Ndlovu. My twin sister, Phathi did the backing vocals,” she said.
Proceeds from the album launch and CD sales will be donated to flood victims in Tsholotsho district.
“I think I’ve seen a lot of suffering that flood victims went through, I was watching everything. The government did their best, but it’s not enough; we as society and as artists, we have to give back because these are the people that made us who we are today,” she said.
Reminiscing on her days with the super group, Ilanga, Ncube, who is now based in Norway, said being surrounded by talented and hardworking artists such as Don Gumbo, Andy Brown and others helped mould her into the musician that she is now.
“We would lock up ourselves in a small room and create music. We were in unity, mind and everything. When we were in that room, nothing separated us. We were one. We would come out sweating, but we had something that came out, it was like a cooking pot,” she said.
“There was a lot that I learned working with all these good music in Ilanga, but eventually I had to stand up on my own feet. Now I’ve reached my level, I’m not looking for hits or anything, now I’m cruising and it feels good.”
Ncube said in addition to their individual talents and the high work ethic they had during Ilanga, they were also fortunate to have an audience and market that was highly supportive of their efforts.
“It must have been the time and period that we were in, people were hungry for music. Real music. That helped us push ourselves to the limit and bring out the best and we enjoyed what we were doing. It was not just about making money.”
While many of her fans will always remember her from Ilanga’s hit song, True Love, the 54-year-old crooner said her favourite track is Ngihlangabeze, from the album Visions Foretold.
“It’s about a father coming to meet his daughter at the train station. So yes, you could say it’s about love. Love for family.”