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Some Reflections on Student activism and the Pitfalls of Celebrity politics in Zimbabwe

By Blessing Vava ''Student activism is a highly conflict-filled terrain with very passionate individuals and groups involved&...

Friday, 14 October 2011

Tuku's new band better than the acoustic


Tuku's new band better than the acoustic

the acoustic band







Over the last weeks there have been mixed reactions over Oliver Mtukudzi’s new look Black Spirits  band and sound. To that regard the media has been awash with different stories on the changes at Tuku Music. With some reports alleging that Tuku sacked his band members,  though some reported that Chipanga and crew resigned to start their solo careers. Till today no one really knows what actually happened in Tuku’s camp that led to this development . But after attending one of Tuku’s acoustic shows at the Mannernburg recently,  I had the privilege of chatting with one of  Tuku’s closest lieutenants, who dismissed the reports saying that the changes had nothing to do with salaries as reported but  refused to shed light on what exactly transpired on that regard. 

The acoustic band was introduced by Mtukudzi in 2006  after he had decided to change the flavour of his music mainly for his international tours, thus introducing traditional instruments.  Then Tuku dropped six band members namely the talented lead guitarist Mono Mukundu, his daughter, Selma Philani Dube (sound engineer, guitar), Kenny Neshamba (percussion), Clive Mutyasira (drummer), Selma Mtukudzi (vocals), and Jairos Hambahamba (keyboard).  He recruited a new-look  band which composed of Charles Chipanga (marimba), Namatayi Mubariki (hosho,vocals), Never Mpofu (bass) and Sam Mataure (drums) later replaced by Simba Dembedza.
 new look Black Spirits 


It remains unclear on what prompted the superstar to dump his acoustic band, recruiting new band members  and reverting back to his  trademark katekwe beat. I still believe that   the acoustic flavour was not well received by  a majority of Tuku’s fans. For the few years that Tuku shifted to the acoustic beat minus the lead guitar, his shows lost lustre  to the extent that his old songs were now boring during live performances  because they were missing the lead guitar which has been an integral instrument of Tuku’s beat for years. Imagine playing songs like Ziwere, perekedza Mwana, Dzoka Uyamwe and others without the lead guitar? surely they sound void. For fans they had no choice, they kept on filling his venues but most were not happy with the new sound.

However the topic  is still up for  debate though as some are arguing that the new band is not playing well, probably basing on their performance at the Chibuku finals.  On that we can give Tuku a benefit of doubt because he was just coming from a funeral of his sound engineer. But to those who attended the Zim’s Finest show at Andy Miller hall can testify that Tuku delivered a five star performance with his new look band. At least fans had a chance of dancing to some of Tuku’s old songs he was no longer playing at his shows when he had the acoustic band. Songs like mutavara, mutserendende to mention but a  few had disappeared from Tuku’s play list during live shows.  To be honest the new guys are doing well and fans should give them time to settle in the band. Judging by Friday’s performance, you could hardly feel the absence of Chipanga and crew, it was a show reminiscing the days of Neshamba, Mukundu and the old Black Spirits. But the old man still has a homework on the female backing vocalist, who unlike the other new members seems to be learning at a slow pace and still lacking confidence in an outfit composed of veterans. 

Above all, Tuku has shown that he is indeed a teacher and a legend as well this I say basing on how the new members have quickly adapted and fitting well in the Black Spirits line up. It’s always every young guitarists, drummer’s dream to be play with  legends like Oliver Mtukudzi, because you learn one or two from veteran artistes. It is a golden opportunity  that also exposes them to play at big shows nationally and internationally. This is evident by the path that the ex-Black Spirits now being called ChaleNam have embarked on, lining up a series of shows  in Zimbabwe and regionally. I’m sure they are making use of the contacts they made while playing for Tuku to advance their own  music careers which they have just began after leaving the black Spirits. So the changes at Tuku Music might have been a blessing in disguise to both Tuku and his old band members. The debate is still on whether Tuku is better with an acoustic band or a full band (plus the lead guitar).

Send your comments to blessingvava@gmail.com