Mai Charamba opens up on 8-year hiatus

HARARE - Fans have been clamouring for a new record from Olivia Charamba, popularly known as Mai Charamba, for so long that even a new riff will send them in a frenzy.

The multi-award winning Zimbabwean gospel artiste has been working on new material recently, and said she hoped to have it out by midyear, leading to hope that we may finally hear something.

But there was something else preventing her from fully focusing on her new material that she has not spoken about until now.

While she admits that her personal life has made it difficult to concentrate on the album process in a similar fashion to previous efforts, she revealed to the Daily News on Sunday that the main problem is that she is a stickler for perfection.

Mai Charamba, who rose to prominence as a solo artist with her 2000 debut album, Amen, last released an album in 2009. Her last album was The Gospel.

She says she does music as a passion and calling, not as competition.

“Ever since I started recording as a solo artist, I have never been in a rush to release new albums because I usually want to take my time.

“I believe my music is timeless and is always appealing, thanks to my husband who God has vastly blessed with a gift that contributes to this.

“My motherhood and music career started off at the same time and this also set the pace for my releases,” she said.

Having last released an album eight years ago, Mai Charamba has taken all the time she needs.

“I will release my next project in two to three months’ time,” she said.

She said that her band has finished the hard part which is the song writing process and are now working on piecing the songs together before forwarding to their front man producer, who will then work his magic.

“My husband features on the backing vocals and since I have been quiet for some time, I do not think I should engage anyone on a collaborative note for now. It’s not necessary,” she said.

As a backing vocalist, she has performed with her husband, Charles, from his debut album Tinashe Akatendeka in 1997.

“On the albums I have recorded, I was very consistent but never had stipulated times for releases since inception.

“I don’t really regret the hiatus but I think it is an injustice to my followers and so I’m taking a corrective measure, that is, to release more frequently.

“Me being a top artiste or not, I don’t sing for the purpose of contesting with anyone,” she said.

Olivia Charamba (nee Maseko) was born on August 14 in 1973. She started singing in the Salvation Army choir in the 80’s.

In 1995, she moved to join the Apostolic Faith Mission and that is where she met her husband and started her professional career.

She has also been a pastor since 2004 when she graduated at Living Waters Bible College.

“We do counselling and offer consultancy to up-coming musicians. I also enjoy doing a bit of tailoring, gardening, a bit of farming and other activities. I also do spend a lot of time with my family.

“It’s all about scheduling but I usually prioritise my family whenever there is a clash of events.

“My eldest child is now 18-years-old and starting university soon. She is very musical and very passionate about it and we are very supportive.”

She also revealed to the Daily News on Sunday her other source of income besides music.

“I thank God music has remunerated me very well but I don’t sorely survive on it. I have other investments that are capable of sustaining me.”

She is also a farmer, a road safety ambassador for the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Council.

On musicians she admires, she said: “I have been impressed by a number of them though I can’t mention names. I’m inspired by most of them because of their resilience and consistency in the music industry,” she said.

Mai Charamba blasted music piracy — the copying and distribution of music for which the composer, recording artist, or copyright-holding record company did not give consent.

“I don’t have anything to regret, if I had my own way, I would eradicate piracy for the benefit of most upcoming artistes because most of them are not well r-sourced,” she said.

Zimbabwe does not have a dedicated anti-piracy organisation, following the closure of the Anti-Piracy Organisation of Zimbabwe (Apoz).

Besides a thriving black market for music, proprietors of shops, factories, office, surgery, bottle stores, nightclubs, hair salons, gymnasium, discotheque, play pirated music in public without a copyright license, blatantly infringing copyright laws.

Copyright legislation in Zimbabwe is divided between the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Regulations (2006) and the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (2000), which prescribes that any person found guilty of infringing the provisions of the copyright law is punishable by imprisonment for a period of two years or a fine.

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