Tuku set to light up the gar­dens

Zimbabwean ‘world mu­sic’ leg­end Oliver Mtukudzi, brings his Black Spir­its band to his Kirsten­bosch Sun­set Con­cert in­sid­e­track

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMUSIC - EVAN MIL­TON

OLIVER Mtukudzi is in a car some­where in Africa when his man­ager an­swers the call for this in­ter­view. They’re driv­ing be­tween shows, and that’s not an un­usual thing: Tuku, as he is known to fans and fol­low­ers world­wide, started per­form­ing in 1975 and has re­leased more than 50 al­bums and a hand­ful of film sound­tracks.

He was re­cently in­ducted into Amer­ica’s Afropop Hall of Fame and just played a fes­ti­val in Uganda: “It was beau­ti­ful, the crowd was very re­spon­sive and we had such a nice time to­gether”.

He also per­formed on a dou­blebill with Ringo Madlin­gozi, at fes­ti­vals in Zim­babwe, and plays at Kirsten­bosch tomorrow.

We speak on the day of the Qunu fu­neral ser­vice for Nel­son Man­dela.

“It is a great loss, a dis­ap­point­ing loss,” says Tuku.

“The legacy he left us is some­thing that the whole world has to try and em­u­late. If ev­ery­one could be a bit more like him, then the world would be a bet­ter place. Of course, we also have to cel­e­brate his pos­i­tive be­liefs. No one has the ex­cuse of be­ing naughty any­more in Africa; that no longer makes sense.”

Mtukudzi has seen his mu­sic gain pop­u­lar­ity across the globe. He has also been hon­oured with awards like Italy’s Cava­liere of the Or­der of Merit and is a United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund good­will am­bas­sador.

“I’m an artist for the world, born of Zim­babwe,” he says. “When I write my songs, I don’t write them with Zim­bab­weans in mind, I write songs with peo­ple in mind. It’s not easy, it’s a chal­lenge to do that, but it is who I am and who we are: we are all part of global hu­man­ity.”

He’s happy to re­turn to Cape Town af­ter head­lin­ing the city’s in­au­gu­ral Cape Town World Mu­sic Fes­ti­val last year, and is bring­ing his ac­claimed Black Spir­its band for his Kirsten­bosch set.

“I don’t know what I’m go­ing to play, though,” he says. “I am one of the very few artists who does not write a set list be­fore the show, be­cause I don’t know the mood of the day. All I have to fight for, be­fore­hand, is to work out the first song. Then, how the au­di­ence re­sponds, is how I know which way to go. An artist brings the songs, but the au­di­ence makes the show out of th­ese songs.”

What’s the best thing about be­ing Oliver Mtukudzi?

“Be­ing on stage and shar­ing, per­form­ing to some­one. Art is not about the fig­ures of how many peo­ple are there: if there is one per­son or two peo­ple, then it can be a per­for­mance. I’m lucky that peo­ple keep com­ing, and keep sup­port­ing my mu­sic and what I do. I hope more peo­ple come and lis­ten and learn about Zimbabwean cul­ture, and that I have the op­por­tu­nity to meet them, and we can en­joy mu­sic to­gether.”

Con­versely, what’s the worst thing about be­ing Oliver Mtukudzi?

The great man laughs, and then says: “The ner­vous feel­ing that comes be­fore per­form­ing. What­ever per­for­mance I do, what­ever size or wher­ever it is, I feel ner­vous. But I think that’s nor­mal: if I don’t feel ner­vous, then there’s no chal­lenge.”

Mtukudzi has al­ways adopted an or­ganic ap­proach to mu­sic, and to his play­ing: “I’m a self-taught gui­tarist and when I started, some pro­fes­sional guitarists were rush­ing at me and say­ing I was learn­ing this thing the wrong way,” he says. “The way I hung over the strings was the way I was com­fort­able. I did not mean to cre­ate my own genre or my own style, it was just how I wanted to play a song. It was a bless­ing in dis­guise, hav­ing this new kind of style in play­ing the gui­tar was what made my fans la­bel it as “Tuku mu­sic”, and now this is some­thing that is recog­nised.”

Last year, Mtukudzi re­leased a com­pi­la­tion ti­tled Abi’angu (Duets Of My Time), a his­tory of his col­lab­o­ra­tions with artists in­clud­ing Kenya’s Eric Wainaina, Zim­babwe’s Wil­lom Tight and Kudzai Sevenzo, and South African stars Ju­dith Se­phuma, Siphokazi and the Jaziel Brothers, as well as the late Cape Verde songstress, Ce­saria Evora. He plans a sec­ond part to this com­pi­la­tion of duets for next year.

“It is very healthy for us as artists to work to­gether, all artists are unique, so it makes life in­ter­est­ing to learn from each other and to com­bine our ef­forts to make mu­sic – and to give an of­fer­ing to our fans. I al­ways en­joy col­lab­o­rat­ing and I am hon­estly glad to still have another full CD of th­ese com­ing. It also opens up the mu­sic of Africa to new lis­ten­ers.”

● Mtukudzi plays at the Old Mu­tual Kirsten­bosch Sum­mer Sun­set Con­certs tomorrow. Gates open at 4pm, con­cert is 5.30pm to 7pm. Tick­ets are R85 to R120 from WebTick­ets. co. za or 021 799 8783/8620). See SANBI.org and OldMutual.co.za/Mu­sic

WORLD FA­MOUS: Oliver Mtukudzi is back to daz­zle Cape Town con­cert­go­ers tomorrow.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.