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Selmor’s big breakthrough

Selmor Mtukudzi and part of her team at Steve Dyer’s studio in South Africa last week

By Moses Mugugunyeki

Musician Selmor Mtukudzi could have been left outside the frosted glass of her family’s inheritance, but on the music side it seems she has fitted well in her late father Oliver Mtukudzi’s shoes.

While many perceive Selmor and her sister Sandra — daughters to Tuku’s first and former wife Melody Murape — could have been short-changed by the descedant’s stated intentions, it looks as if the two sisters have benefited the lion’s share of the bequest — music.

Selmor, alongside her group and some former members of her father’s backing team — Black Spirits — spent the better part of last week in South Africa recording her sixth album at Steve Dyer’s studio.

Former Black Spirits dancer and backing vocalist Picky Kasamba, bass guitarist Never Mpofu and drummer Sam Mataure, who had to fly from the United States where he now resides, as well as Selmor’s husband Tendai Manatsa and Sandra, were part of the team that went through the first stages of the production of the yet-to-be-named album.

The team was led by local promoter Josh Hozheri, who is now Selmor’s manager.

“We are in South Africa at Steve Dyer’s recording studio where Selmor and the team are recording the album, which I think will introduce Selmor on the international stage,” Hozheri told Standard Style from South Africa.

Hozheri had been working with the Hangaza hit maker since the death of her father in January, facilitating music shows in and around the country as well as corporate endorsements and promotions.

In April, car rental company, Impala Car Hire, gifted Selmor with a vehicle, a move that was facilitated by Hozheri, who is a close associate of the car rental firm’s CEO Thompson Dondo.

According to Selmor’s publicity manager Reginald Chapfunga, the production of the album would take up to a month.

“Laying of instruments would take almost three days with the other three days reserved for vocals. However, this is only the first part. There is still editing, mixing and mastering of the album to be done. So, in terms of full production, we are looking at over a month,” Chapfunga said.

He said the South African musician and producer was the right man for the job.

“Steve Dyer is arguably one of the best Afro-jazz producers in the region and is well-versed with Selmor’s genre. He is also a seasoned musician and producer having worked with great artistes like Hugh Masekela, Oliver Mtukudzi, Philip Tabane and Mahube. We really felt he was the best producer to take our music to the next level,” he said.

Chapfunga said the decision to involve Dyer was necessitated by the desire to introduce Selmor on the global map.

“This is the beginning of a new era for Selmor.

“The album will establish her not only as one of the best artistes in Zimbabwe, but the region at large,” he said.

Dyer is credited for resuscitating Tuku’s music career after he produced the album Tuku Music in 1999, thanks to Tuku’s former manager Debbie Metcalfe who facilitated the move.

The album Tuku Music propelled Mtukudzi into a global superstar that was followed by smash albums such as Paivepo, Bvuma, Vhunze Moto and Ndega Zvangu all of which were produced by Dyer.

Tuku and Dyer went on to do a number of joint projects that included the famed Mahube — a collection of top southern African musicians and vocalists.

“The albums and projects that Tuku and Dyer did together is a huge endorsement of our new project. The blend of Selmor’s art and seasoned musicians’ feel sets the album apart. The legacy lives on,” said Chapfunga.

Selmor launched her career as a solo artiste with the release of Shungu in 2008, which was followed by two joint albums with her husband, Tendai Manatsa, titled Selmor and Tendai Live and Ndinewe (I Am with You) in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The fourth offering, Expressions, which featured the hit song, Nguva Yangu, came out in 2013 and was followed by I Am Woman in 2015.

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