'Macheso's brand will not die'

HARARE - He  one of Zimbabwe’s biggest brands. But sungura maestro Alick Macheso is on his knees, with his Orchestra Mberikwazvo band in tatters.

Band members leaving in droves forced Macheso to cancel some shows, a sign of desperate times.
 
But his business partner and co-director of recording label Last Power, Last Murerwa, says the desertion of key band members will not kill the “Cheso” brand.

Last Power is Macheso’s recording company where the sungura ace is also a co-director.

Murerwa says chanter Jonas Kasamba, drummer Obert Gomba and guitarist Noel Nyazanda have every right to leave Orchestra Mberikwazvo and start their own band.

“The positive thing is that they are forming their own band, other than joining another band. We wish them well, but they have to learn to respect Macheso and stop denouncing him as they leave,” said Murerwa.

“Band members break away every day in all these bands you see and even Macheso split from Khiama Boys to form Orchestra Mberikwazvo.”

Murerwa said it could have been wiser for the band members to inform Macheso of their intention to leave the group than to ambush him just like that.

“Macheso has live concerts lined-up in advance and this affects his programmes.

The guys should have opened up to Macheso and from what I know of the sungura star; he could have blessed their departure and even prepared them for a sound landing solo project.” Murerwa said Macheso is not an ordinary artiste, but “an institution”.

“A number of musicians have passed through his band and went on to start their own bands.

“The three members leaving Macheso today are going away musically-equipped and they have to thank Macheso for that.”

He said his recording company was ready to work with the three in whatever new project they planned.

“We can record them if they want. The music business is funny because most of the times deserting band members usually find it difficult out there and beg to return to the roots.

“The three are welcome back to Macheso if they feel the heat is too much out there — I am sure Macheso, with the heart he has always exhibited would welcome them back. He has done it in the past for others.”

Murerwa said the talk of wages is neither here nor there.

“Just like any employer, Macheso runs a big company employing many people who include the 13 band members and he has made sure that they are paid accordingly.

“It is malicious and in bad taste then for the deserting band members to now want to tell the world how little they were being remunerated.”

The Last Power director said Macheso’s band members have working contracts like most bands.

“The important thing is the contract and I continue to urge other band members to negotiate working contracts in good faith before taking on such important posts.”

Murerwa said he attended Macheso’s Sunday gig in Harare and was impressed with those who have replaced the deserters.

“There is no difference in sound and everything is still intact. Macheso remains the brand.

“He still remains with a catalogue of hit songs too many to mention. Macheso’s brand will die when he is dead, but as long as he is still alive it will continue to dominate entertainment and social circles.”

Macheso is currently a Red Cross Society ambassador and has commercial endorsements with leading bread manufacturers, Bakers Inn. - Staff Writer

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