Singer Joy fights a good fight

By Grant Moyo

United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean singer-songwriter Joy Rukanzakanza, affectionately known as Joy, reckons that she managed to keep her job in the financial services industry at the same time not neglecting her musical prowess by following good advice and devoting most of her time to her obligations. While multi-tasking significantly constrains her social life, Joy believes hard work anchors her purpose in life and provides her with desirable prospects to take giant leaps critical to her aspirations.

From dedicating time to her day job to exploring music at night, her latest single, New Day, featuring illustrious South African rapper Kid X, is currently being played on local radio stations. The video to the track is nearing 100 000 views on video-streaming platform YouTube.

The songstress spent most of her childhood and part of her adulthood in Bulawayo, her place of birth. It was while singing in primary school that her vocal gift started maturing. Upon graduating from high school, she moved to the United States to further her studies. In 2019 Joy graduated “magna cum laude” with a degree in International Studies and a minor in Africana Studies from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She managed to record professionally while studying and would also fit in recording sessions each time she came back to Zimbabwe on vacation.

“I started singing when I was still a child, being a regular in the Sunday school church choir where I participated in choral events that were held within and outside my community. I also took part in choral competitions throughout high school. I guided the choir through numerous local and regional competitions as the lead vocalist,” Joy said.

“Professionally I did a song called Shingirira, with house DJ and producer Skaiva in 2016. After its release, the song got a lot of positive feedback in the country and beyond. This resulted in me collaborating and engaging musicians from neighbouring South Africa. I managed to work with Enosoul, he produced an upbeat house song called Tamba.”

Impacted by first-time college experiences which were biased towards her identity, Joy used music as an escape route. After graduating from college, she moved to New York to pursue a career in the financial services industry at Black Rock Inc — a global asset management company. While working in Wall Street has been a dream of hers, she never neglected her ambition of making music.

“I currently work at Black Rock as a senior technology analyst and my job pretty much entails coding and applying some technology solutions to the company’s clients. In November the company transferred me to the United Kingdom where I currently reside. Looking back, being a black student at Bryn Mawr College in the US opened my mind so much. I was constantly in spaces where people were surprised when I knew stuff or accomplished what was not the norm for someone like me. I got exposed to racial issues in college and even got to see more of them when I moved into the financial services industry,” she said.

“It really is a challenge and heartbreaking that black people are still racially profiled till present day, but I have so much faith in the current American presidency and hope they will continue preaching kindness, compassion and empowering marginalised groups. These experiences do not only influence some of the issues I address in my music, they also give me the zeal to elevate myself in the financial space. Pursuing two careers it’s really tough, I always sleep late and wake up early, my friends are constantly worried about that. However, I try as much as possible to find some good five hours to lie down and get some rest. It’s very challenging yet equally rewarding.”

Giving an insight on her music, Joy defines herself as a dynamic artiste who loves experimenting with different sounds and genres. Since she works with a variety of sounds, she noted that the safest bet would be classifying her as an alternative musician. Her collaboration with rapper Kid X on a track taken from her soon-to-be-released debut album is testimony of her diversity.

“The song New Day featuring Kid X, one of the most talented African rappers of our generation, is a fusion of rhythm and blues and hip-hop. It’s a love song written from the perspective of a lady who despite her disappointing relationship history does not give up on love. She is assuring her future love that she will disregard her past experiences and love like never before. Murphy Cubic and Phanas co-produced the track, it was released in January this year the same day its video which was shot and directed in South Africa by Onkabetse Mtshweni dropped,” Joy said.

“The single (New Day) is extracted from my upcoming 11-track project called Matter-More-For-Sis which is a fusion of alternative sounds that include reggae, neo-soul, pop, funk, and hip-hop. It is centred around telling the love story of a woman who experiences the different feelings and emotions that come with a toxic love situation.”

Through the adoption of different sounds, tones, and moods, listeners are taken through the vast experiences that the protagonist experiences as she manoeuvres her path around loving, betrayal, disappointment, and recovery. The project title references the scientific terms of metamorphosis, which is the change from one state to the next, popularly illustrated through the life cycle of a butterfly.

“In the project we can experience the change from one form to the other through the different instrumentals that the album ventures on, including shifting tones, lyrical content and tempo. The project title is double-barrelled, with the words Matter-More-For-Sis intentionally used as an emphasis for the protagonist, who has a tendency of putting other people first, to prioritise herself and her goals above all. This empowering element is a message encouraging women who succumb to toxic love situations in the name of love to put themselves first,” Joy said.

Undaunted by following her ambitions, Joy is showing commitment and working harder to continue growing her work in music and finance assuring herself of a brighter future. Though she and her team are yet to decide on the official release date for her album, a follow-up single to New Day shall be dropped in the next few weeks.

Grant Moyo is a prolific writer, innovative media personality, entrepreneur and a creative artist who is passionate about using his creative mind for the betterment of society.

Follow him on Twitter: @TotemGrant

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