Documentary spotlights Zim music legend

HARARE - Skokiaan, a song originally written by late Zimbabwean music legend Augustine Musarurwa which became a global hit after it was re-recorded by celebrated American jazz star Louis Armstrong in 1954,is the subject of a documentary set to be released early next year.

The video is being made by Fungai Maboreke-a Zimbabwean creative based in the United States of America though his organisation called Harare Stay Awake.

According to Maboreke, the video seeks to celebrate the impact of

Skokiaan which generated at least 19 cover versions within a year of its release in America.

“Our stories have been repeatedly told by others who have not even set foot in Zimbabwe. The story of Skokiaan is a good example as over 150 versions of the song has been re-done around the world and most of the people do not know the origins of it,” Maboreke told the Daily News on Sunday.

He added that he was motivated to do the documentary after visiting the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York City.

“Louis Armstrong’s house in in Astoria Queens in New York was turned into a museum following his wife's death.

“There I discovered on display a drum presented to Louis Armstrong during his visit to then Rhodesia in 1960. The museum director gave me a tour of the space and explained how the song Skokiaan came to be,” said Maboreke.

After his visit to the Louis Armstrong House Museum Maboreke got in touch with rising music star Prince Kudakwashe Musarurwa – grandson to the late Skokiaan composer August Machona Musarurwa.

“I pursued my quest by reaching out to Prince who accepted to join me. I sent a video crew to visit where the music all started; the rural home of Augustine Musarurwa in Zvimba.

“The surviving members of his immediate family narrated the story and also shared remnants of the musical instruments including his Saxophone that he played. The crew visited the burial grounds as well,” he said.

In process oftracing the late Skokiaan composer's history, Maboreke became Prince’s manager.

“We followed Prince during his live performances in and around Harare and also the College of Music where Prince honed his musical chops. We agreed to take Prince to New York as part of his musical journey to help tell the late Skokiaan composer’s story including a visit to the Louis Armstrong House Museum,” he said.

Interestingly, Prince has just completed his own version of Skokiaan which he has renamed Chikokiana with the help of Maboreke.

"Prince and I worked on the lyrics and harmony of the song Chikokiana drifting away from the bastardised version of Skokiaan, which was how the song was popularised internationally.

It was recorded at Soundhouse Recording Studios. The recording involved Leopoldo Fleming, Edith Lettner, Rade Bemabass who is also known as Rainde Rajaonary, Prince and myself,” he said.

Maboreke added that Prince also recorded a song titled “One Girl” at Merc Studios in New Jersey featured a USA-based Zimbabwean artiste called Dexter Hakuna.

“Prince was in New York from August 15 to November 8. He will return to America once shows are booked. He will probably be back in the USA when the Skokiaan documentary is launched early next year in New Jersey,” he told the Daily News on Sunday.

Comments (1)

Great stuff!

godfrey - 17 November 2016

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