Musicians must look beyond Zim

HARARE - Zimbabwean musicians, who have failed to make significant inroads into the regional and international markets, have an opportunity to do so.

They must take seriously advice from MTV Base channel director Tim Horwood.

Horwood is encouraging local artistes to collaborate with their regional and international colleagues as a way of raising their profiles.

The fact that this advice is coming from the head of a music channel with a lot of influence all over the African continent should inspire musicians to look beyond our borders.

Tanzanian singer Diamond and Nigerian artiste Davido are examples of entertainers whose profiles have been boosted by doing duets with established artistes from other countries.

Until his recent collaboration with Davido, Diamond was fairly unknown beyond his native Tanzania but thanks to his duet with the Nigerian, he became the only musician from Tanzania to be nominated for this year’s MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA).

Davido has also gained a foothold in South Africa and elsewhere by doing a duet with one of South Africa’s top musical groups, Mafikizolo.

Davido, Mafikizolo and Diamond have all benefitted immensely from collaborations but not on the same scale as Nigeria’s P Square who became global superstars after doing duets with Rick Ross and Akon.

Zimbabwean musicians must make use of the various international festivals that take place in the country each year particularly the Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa) and the Shoko Festival to forge links with top artistes from other countries.

This year’s Shoko Festival, which will take place in Harare at the end of September, will feature internationally-reputed artistes like German-Nigerian hip-hop/soul singer Nneka Lucia Egbuna and United Kingdom House band, The Layabouts.

We hope the organisers of the Shoko Festival will also develop a deliberate policy to encourage duets between the foreign artistes on their bill with their Zimbabwean counterparts.

One Zimbabwean artiste who appears to be well-placed to reap dividends from collaborations with foreign artistes is Zimbabwean folk singer Netsayi Chigwendere.

The soulful singer’s collaborations with several foreign artistes at the Original Music Workshop in New York earned Netsayi the praise of none other than Bono, the front man of Irish rock band U2.

We just hope that other local artistes will get inspired by the breakthrough she is making internationally through collaborations with nationals of other countries.

The signs could be encouraging but what is needed is to escalate the collaborations.

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