THE US is known all over the world as a conveyor belt of music stars.
In Africa, South Africa and Nigeria have also made an impact in producing mega stars.
Here in Zimbabwe, we need to copy from the template that makes other culturally-advanced countries produce international music icons.
Like in sport, where talent is identified from grassroots level and nurtured, the same also applies to showbiz.
The general public, government and mass media, especially radio and television, must work hand-in-glove with artists to develop the arts sector.
In my opinion, Zimbabwe’s Mbeu, who fronts Mhodzi Tribe, and Andy Muridzo, leading the Jeetaz Band, have huge potential.
Please, forgive me if my observation does not agree with your opinion on this.
I believe that if these two musicians receive adequate funding, and media support, they can become our pride as a country.
Andy Muridzo has all the attributes of becoming a mega star.
He has a beautiful and powerful voice and is a prolific song writer and mbira player.
He has the stature of a lead vocalist.
You can feel his presence when he is performing on stage.
This young man is a music genius.
He is ready for the international market.
As for Mbeu, he is exceptionally good and original.
His voice is mellow.
He is a great singer, composer, guitar player and dancer although he can do more to improve his dance routines.
These two musicians can go places because of their sheer brilliance as they both play Zimbabwean rhythms.
If you listen carefully to their music, you will discover that it is composed of mhande, chigiyo, katekwe, chikende and tsavatsava.
It is easy to break into the international market if you play local genres.
Mbuya Stella Chiweshe, Dr Thomas Mapfumo, Dr Oliver Mtukudzi, The Bhundu Boys, Chiwoniso Maraire and the Four Brothers, all managed to make it internationally because they sounded Zimbabwean.
From my experience, on the international music stage, our most effective weapon is playing mbira.
The mbira differentiates Zimbabwean musicians from artists from other parts of the world.
The moment you take out your cultural tool (the mbira) and play whether njari or nhare or nyonganyonga or dongonda, you will immediately become a darling of overseas audiences.
All over the world, Zimbabwe is known for making and playing mbira.
When Jenaguru Music and Dance Group is on their regular Japan and South Korea tours, we make money by teaching students in those countries how to play mbira.
A mbira set costs US$100 in Zimbabwe but when we are abroad, we sell each mbira for US$500.
We also conduct lectures about Zimbabwean musical instruments and dances in schools, charging each school for the lectures.
If we are not very careful about preserving and documenting the mbira heritage, within a few years from now, our kids will be flying all the way to Europe or Asia to learn more about mbira at higher learning institutions.
We have all the tools at our disposal but we are failing to utilise them to our advantage.
The Government must provide support to rising musicians and I have proposed that we start with Andy Muridzo and Mbeu.
The Government can provide these two musicians with access to the international market, through government-to-government exchange programmes, through Zimtrade, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the National Arts Council.
If the Government provides financial support, it can free artists to be more creative.
Every year, through a national vote, the National Arts Council may pick two or three musicians to support.
Once selected, the musicians must be thoroughly supported to enable them to launch their careers internationally.
This has been tried-and-tested on home soil.
For instance, Mbira Dzenharira were first invited to the Jenaguru Musical Festivals as curtain-raisers until they became the main attraction of the event.
After realising the talent of Mbira Dzenharira, Jenaguru started organising small concerts for the group.
Once such a show was the launch of Professor Claude Mararike’s book at the University of Zimbabwe.
The group rose to the occasion at the event.
The rest, as we know, is now history.
As we lobby the nation to support talented artists, it is their responsibility to put their houses in order.
Talent without discipline is useless.
NB: For feedback, you can contact me on [email protected] or WhatsApp/SMS 0782 464 001.