By Kennedy Nyavaya
The memorial concert for Afro-jazz legend Oliver Mtukudzi that was held at the National Sports Stadium two weeks ago before his burial the next day proved among many other things that filling the musical void his sudden departure left, if possible, may not happen in this generation.
The death of Tuku, as the world-venerated crooner was affectionately known, comes at a time local music is lagging behind in terms of reach off the country’s borders due to production of what critics have termed “bubble gum music”— music with a short shelf life.
This to an extent makes Zimdancehall chanter Killer T’s claim that Jah Prayzah is the next musician to climb that ladder so far-fetched that one would be justified to view it as premature, given the status quo.
While most artistes are stuck in the bracket of nursery rhymes and profane lyricism that largely stimulates urban millennials — albeit for a short stint — a snap survey at the Mtukudzi farewell event proved that there was an inherent interest among the new crop to do the right thing and build more solid brands.
Then, what is hindering that?
Enzo Ishall appears to subscribe to divergent views, but believes hard work could thrust newbies like him to global acclaim.
“I believe entertainment should teach and shape society, but in dancehall it changes and sometimes it’s just about laughing or dancing that is why I come with different angles,” says Enzo Ishall.
As long as the localised version of the Jamaica- originated sound still gets attention, the 24-year-old believes it could propel him to Tuku’s level.
Uzumba-bred musician Andy Muridzo believes artistes have the power to bring back decorousness into contemporary music and attract appeal across the board.
“As musicians, we set the trends and influence our followers, so what is needed is that when we go out there we seek to impart what will help future generations, not preaching short-term fun because that is our main function in society,” said Muridzo.
“We have to work very hard to get to that level because sometimes when we make one hit we relax and start boasting while Mtukudzi humbled himself.”
There cannot be debate on the fact that Mtukudzi’s musical prowess was unique and it could be hard for many to successfully follow in his footsteps, after all he preached originality.
However, Tuku’s mentee Gary Tight is determined to reinvent the multi-award winner’s influence and he could have what it takes except the distinct husky voice.
“All I can say is I will do everything in my power to be like Mtukudzi because that is what he taught and wanted me to be,” says Gary Tight.
But, as the adage goes that: “legends live forever”, younger artistes still have a chance to tap into the fallen hero’s wisdom, which emphasised on originality and “hunhu”.