20 December 2018
…I once survived on handouts
VERSATILE Afro-Jazz crooner, Alexio Kawara, is now 40.
For Kawara, a new birthday means celebrating the grace of the Lord and time for thanksgiving.
And in this case, he did not celebrate with a bash after marking another milestone.
If he were to throw a birthday bash, Kawara says it would be next year as he marks 20 years in the game.
By the way, Kawara started his career in 1999 and he feels next year is the appropriate time to celebrate his success in the game.
Then, he will be 41.
Kawara, who has endeared himself with fans for his love and party songs, granted H-Metro a wide-ranging interview.
He spoke about his tough upbringing, misfortunes, sacrifices he made in life and musical growth. Read on…
- EARLY YEARS
Kawara, who started off as an urban grooves artiste, hails forgotten music producer Delani Makhalima for showing him the way after years of itching to record his music.
“Starting my professional career was never rosy for me since we had no money to record our music.
“The birth of Shamiso Entertainment opened doors for us as we went on to record our music with the help of Delani Makhalima.
“However, my contract expired in 2003 when Delani moved to South Africa, which means I had to start afresh,” recalls Kawara.
With 19 years in the game, he boasts of a rich catalogue of songs.
Like any other artiste, he also concedes he had had hits and misses.
“I released my first album entitled Usazondisiya under Shamiso in 2003.
“It was Followed by Rwiyo Rwangu released in 2004, Pfimbi Yangu (2005), Kana (2008), Tose 2011).
“I went on to record singles like Hatidzoreke in 2016, which was followed by another single Zvazvinhu in 2015.
“It was also followed by Nehana which I released in the year 2016.”
Despite challenges he faces, the Glen Norah bred singer says he reflects on his journey with pride.
“The major high of my career came when I won an award at the Zimbabwe Music Awards ceremony in 2005.
“I won the Best Male Urban Grooves Award and my song Tinodanana featuring Tererai Mugwadi was also voted song of the year.
“In the year 2007, my album was nominated Album of the Year at the National Arts Merit Awards.”
Kawara, who got married in 2008, says quitting bachelorhood remains one of his major highlights in his career.
“I got married in 2008, which happens to be the same year that I released the song Shaina which made a hit.
“I also performed it at the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe finals while I was on honeymoon.
“It was an amazing experience because I was wearing a new shirt and I forgot to remove the tag on the collar and I only realised it when I was in our hotel room,” says the crooner.
Musically, Kawara says he has some of the big shows he still cherishes in his career.
“One of the major highlights of my career was being invited to perform at Tuku @ 60 birthday bash held at HICC.
“I remember we were performing his songs and i did the track Denga Dzvene.
“I also performed at the Arts Alive Concert in Alex Park, South Africa where I had a chance to share the stage with Ringo and Zahara.
“In the year 2011, I performed alongside Eric Wainana at Book Café and Zahara in 2013 at Borrowdale Race Course.
“I also performed at the Blantyre Arts Festivals in 2010, being the only Zimbabwean artiste,” he says.
Besides all these milestones, Kawara has had his lows in his career.
“One moment which marked my lows started when I Shamiso Entertainment closed.
“I had to fund raise myself to record my albums, which was a daunting task.”
Kawara says he was not spared by the 2008 biting economic environment.
“In 2008, I married and wedded by the economic recession affected us so much.
“I had to rely on my aunt (Farirayi Chavura) who helped me a lot.
“My former manager Prince Zhandire is one of the people who helped me a lot in my life when all was not well.”
At the height of the 2008 economic challenges, Kawara almost quit music.
“I remember I used to walk from Mupedzanhamo Market to Hillside to record my songs at Hit Squad owned by Jairos Hambahamba.
“Afterwards, I would then walk to town to get a kombi back home when things were still tough for me.
“However, my resilience paid because I managed to record the chart-topper Shaina, which gave me more strength.”
After establishing himself, misfortune visited Kawara on December 14 2013.
“I was involved in an accident on my way from Avondale to drop a male friend.
“I got injured on my leg and everything came to a standstill since I was supposed to shoot a video for Zvazvinhu.
“I had to cancel wedding bookings and shows; It was so tough for me that my wife was the one who was looking after me.
“I remember I had one show at the OK Grand Challenge while on my crutches and my son Wadiwa was three years then.”
- WORST SHOWS
Like any other artistes, Kawara says he has had a rude awakening in trying to promote himself.
“I once played for 20 people in Beitbridge and eight people in Masvingo when we tried to promote ourselves.
“In Marondera we played before two couples and it was just a bad weekend for us.
“The worst was the once we held in budiriro where we drew five paying fans while the rest were friends but it was part of learning.”
In his 19 years as an artiste, Kawara has worked with five producers namely MacDonald Chidavaenzi, Cornelius Muponda, Jairos Hambahamba, Kelly Rusike, Flash Gordon and Mono Mukundu.
“Among the producers I worked with, I rate MaDee as the best vocal producer.
“As for Muponda, he is the best keyboardist and he also likes complicating music.
“In Hambahamba, he is more of a hit-maker while Kelly is a jazz artiste and most of the productions we did were advertisements.
“As for Mono Mukundu, he is a strict manager who believes in professionalism.”
Family wise, Kawara is happily married and he always parade his family in public.
In short, these are some of the major highlights of Kawara’s career.