Zvobgo's daughter shares passion for arts

HARARE - Arts manager is the last profession you would associate with the daughter of a hard-nosed Zanu PF stalwart but that is exactly what Tsungi Zvobgo is.

The daughter of the late Edson Jonasi Zvobgo runs New Sofala Entertainment, an organisation that promotes several artistes such as Ammara Brown and Tehn Diamond.

Daily News on Sunday’s Tarisai Machakaire (TM) spoke to the dynamic Tsungi (TZ) to understand how she got into arts management. Below are excerpts of the wide-ranging interview:

TM: Who is Tsungi Zvobgo?

TZ: I am a daughter, sister, aunt, entrepreneur, a creative strategist, cultural pioneer and proudly Zimbabwean.

TM: How did you, a daughter of a prominent  Zanu PF stalward, end up in the arts?

TZ: (Laughing) Well it’s actually not that far-fetched a thing to imagine. My parents were both artistically inclined.

My father was a known poet. My mother was gifted fashion and interior design and gastronomy professional. Both of them brought me up to appreciate the arts as a whole.

They understood that the arts are an integral element of a progressive society and instilled that belief in me.

TM: Were you inspired to get in the arts because your late father was a poet of note?

TZ: Not necessarily. I think the arts have always been a big part of my life and my interests. I can say that my own father’s appreciation of the arts just made me feel more confident to immerse myself in it more.

TM: Did your involvement in the arts start with managing artistes?

TZ: No it didn’t. Not in arts as a whole. I was a top art student at school and tended to gravitate towards subjects like fine art (in its various forms), music, history, languages and literature.

At university I chose to do a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Visual Communications with a concentration on graphic design.

Later I worked for a large Pan-African television broadcasting company. My involvement in the music business in particular began with managing artistes.

TM: Who was the first artiste to join New Sofala?

TZ: Well let me first explain. New Sofala Entertainment is a concept specifically designed to promote and manage the careers of local Zimbabwean artistes since there was little in the way of structure available for artists to leverage their work as bonafide business enterprises.

It all started when Willom Tight, Sebede and the late Taku Mafika approached me to manage them in early 2009.

They were working on a collaborative project called The Hinde-Kinde Project which was an act that merged their individual styles to create a new musical sound.

TM: How many artistes are under New Sofala?

TZ: Being a conceptual business, New Sofala is an organic entity meaning that the number of artistes we work with is fluid and varies at any given time depending on the needs of the artistes involved.

However, some of the artistes most widely known to be under New Sofala’s management include Tehn Diamond and Ammara Brown.

  TM: What do you consider to be the highlight of your career as an arts manager?

TZ: That’s a difficult question. My involvement with various artistes has brought so many highlights and things to be proud of.

I can think of so many. Successfully bringing Andy Brown and Chiwoniso to perform together for the first time in 10 years was very special to me…and even more so now that we have lost them. A treasured memory.

TM:  As someone in touch with the Zimbabwean arts scene, can you   single out upcoming musicians that you think are well-positioned to be international stars?

TZ: The music business is a lot like the stock market. It’s very difficult to predict which artiste will rise and which artiste will sink.

It depends on constantly having your finger on the pulse of what generates excitement. Having said that, some of the artists I believe have the potential to break the international market are Ammara Brown, Tehn Diamond and  Jah Prayzah.

TM: In your opinion, which artiste or music group performs better than any other on the Zimbabwean music scene?

TZ: Well, l particularly love the showmanship and sheer stage presence of Mokoomba. Their performances are simply electrifying. Jah Prayzah’s performances are so well-organised and orchestrated that they are always a pleasure to behold. Then there’s Ammara Brown…. Her consistent energy and stamina on stage forever leaves me in awe. And finally, I think Tehn Diamond brings something to Zimbabwe’s hip-hop performance circuit that I think people have been looking for and are excited to witness.

TM: What does the management of an artiste involve?

TZ: Artiste management involves the management of an artiste’s career. Assisting the artiste to create and maintain a brand and business out of their product, build relationships that will further their career, create strategies and implement plans for the artistes short and long-term career goals.

It’s about assisting the artiste to achieve their career goals. Of course, to do all of this, trust, integrity, transparency are essential.

TM: Are you married? If so how many children do you have?

TZ: I am single and dating. No children just yet. (Smiles)

  TM: Any chance of venturing into politics just like your parents?

TZ: There is always a chance, I guess. Who knows?

TM: Are you an artiste in your own right?

TZ: I think all industry professionals are artists in one way or another. An appreciation of the arts, in and of itself, makes an artist.

TM: What else do you do besides arts?

TZ: I’m a public relations and communications professional. Outside of New Sofala, I provide corporate communications management services to various companies.

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