'My music is an exploration of love'

HARARE - United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean Afro-pop artiste Chashe Musarurwa-McTaggart has emerged as one of the hottest female musicians on the local scene largely due to her hit titled Zvokupenga.

The music of Chashe, who collaborated with Tinashe Makura on the hit that has captured the imagination of young Zimbabweans, revolves around love.

Chashe and Tinashe shared the stage at this year’s Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) where they delivered a sterling performance. Interestingly, the two emerging singers only got the chance to meet just a week before Hifa. They collaborated on the song remotely because Tinashe was based in Malaysia.

Daily News on Sunday’s Bridget Mananavire recently had a chat with Chashe about her life and music.

Q: Were you afraid that your Hifa concert would not be successful given the fact that you had not performed with Tinashe before?

A: Well, the first time you work with new people you always feel a little bit on edge, but I was confident in the talent and capabilities of everyone around me — from the drummer to the sound desk. We are all professionals who have been doing this for years so even when I felt nervous, I knew it would turn out great. Tinashe had already done a lot of work with the band prior to mine and Anton’s arrival.

Q: You said you were born and bred in Zimbabwe, when did you move out of the country and how does your upbringing influence your music?

A: Yes, I was born and raised in Harare. I then moved to Cape Town to begin a music programme at University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2007 and then to the United States of America (US) to finish that programme at Berklee in 2009. I think the biggest impact that my upbringing has had on my music is that I have had a real mix of life and culture from moving a lot, and I think that mix plays a big hand in the music I write.

Q: When did you start singing and how have you transformed from there?

A: I was actually more of a writer and pianist in the beginning; I used to sing for fun mostly. I began to take it more seriously when I began studying music and then it quickly became the primary thing I did to express my material. And over the years, I feel I have grown more and more bold as a singing performer, an exciting new dynamic I am still exploring.

Q: How did you manage to make a name for yourself in Zimbabwe yet you do not live there?

A: I try to always remain grounded in my culture, and I think that keeping the music grounded with that part of me has made it easier to connect with the Zimbabwean audience. As an artiste, I primarily want to relate to my home before anything else. And luckily in this Information Age, you don’t have to permanently live somewhere to connect to the people.

Q: Can you play any instruments?

A: Yes, I play the piano and I am currently learning to play a guitar. Having a hard time with the latter.

Q: Is there anything else you do apart from music?

A: Yes, I also teach and run workshops with inner city kids. I think having an opportunity for learning something in the creative arts makes a huge difference in how people learn, develop and express themselves, especially in areas where arts programmes are scarce and funding for them seems to be disappearing more and more each year.

Q: What kind of inroads are you making in Britain and worldwide?

A: It’s hard to say for Britain, as I only moved to London early this year. My first performance in the area, at the Zim Achievers Awards a few weeks ago, was very well received and I am looking forward to exploiting/exploring the market here.

As for the US I had really great opportunities to play with world class musicians on numerous occasions over the past five years.

It was a welcoming place to be a musician in, but I find that the grandest reception has been online, which I really like because fans are not categorised into countries or nationality, it’s just anyone from anywhere who really loves a song!

Q: What is the craziest thing that ever happened to you during a live performance, if anything and how did you recover from it?

A: The craziest thing that has happened so far is the sound going off in our monitors on stage, while the sound for the audience was still on!

It was a bit horrifying but luckily I was playing with a guitarist I had been working with for years, so the arrangements for the music were like second nature, and we just worked it out with body language.

Apparently, no one could tell so we got away with it.

Q: What can you say your music is about?

A: My music is an exploration of love, life and home, the experiences that make us who we are. I like to treat each song as just diving into a moment in time, moments I think most people can relate to.

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