Music is my life: Rute

HARARE - When Rute Mbangwa, 32, first ventured into music over a decade and half ago, jazz was largely associated with mature people but the teenage musician could not resist its laid back tunes.

Aged 16, Rute joined a group called Another Tribe which also included her cousin Rockford “Roki” Josphats, Ngoni Kambarami and Sebede. The teen group won the Afro Jazz category of a talent search competition called Spotlight in 2001. After the victory, fellow Another Tribe members gravitated towards urban grooves but Rute’s love for jazz deepened.

“To some extent, the genre chose me because when I started I had not received any formal tutorship with regards to Jazz but I just found myself composing that style of music; it just came naturally.

“I have stuck to it because it works well in getting my sober messages across reaching out to the elderly and the youths,” Rute told the Daily News on Sunday.

She credits veteran Afro-Jazz star Tanga wekwaSando for nurturing her music talent.

“One of the Spotlight judges was Tanga wekwaSando who spotted me, groomed and worked with me until I came of age and established my own band called Jazz Sensation in 2004,” said the talented Rute.

With the seven-member Jazz Sensation, Rute released two albums If Only My Heart Had A Voice (2004) and Rute Goes Kumaginde (2008) as well as three singles Harare (2012), Kurikutonhora (2014) and Jesu (2016).

“My music is jazz fusion- a blend of Zimbabwean traditional sounds and some western music dominated by jazz elements,” said Rute who attained a national certificate at the Zimbabwe College of Music where she now works as a vocals teacher.

Though her passion for jazz has afforded her the chance to perform at top festivals in South Africa, Germany, Norway and Algeria where she shared the stage with top names like South Africans Jimmy Dhludhlu and Judith Sephuma as well as Nigerian star Kunle Ayo, Rute has been disheartened by the state of the music sector in Zimbabwe.

“We do not have proper production houses and distribution systems. Most of the things are backyard so to say. In addition, we lack corporate and government support.

“At a personal level I would say the local music sector is not treating me well. However, we just find ways to manoeuvre and build the sector in our small ways until it matches other music industries elsewhere,” she said, adding that her ingrained love for music keeps her going.

“Most of my life is music. I am a qualified music educator, music consultant and an adjudicator. I run my own catering company, so all that put together is what keeps me going.

“If I could change anything about my music career then it would have to be my immediate environment as it relates to music appreciation. I want people to understand the role of music in their life; it's different functions and how it can immensely help the economy when the industry is established and run right,” said Rute.

The affable singer, whose distinctive velvety voice has made a favourite in local jazz circles, regards music as a calling.

“It’s not a matter of just singing, looking beautiful on stage. It’s the need to do my part in making the world a better place through the content of my music

“The other reason I have held on is that I believe the musician's purpose is not just to make people dance and jump up and down but to also get people to soberly sit down and reflect on other fundamental areas of life. In other words, I want to spark debate on certain issues that will contribute to positive changes in as far as domestic violence, child marriages, environmental issues are concerned,” she said.

Rute is keen to see female musicians giving their male counterparts a run for their money.

“I am glad we have notable female performers coming up. I am inspired by a lot of musicians around the globe and appreciate all Zimbabwean female artistes. We need to get to a point where we perform at par with our male counterparts.

“I believe the female musicians are all good in their own way, though I encourage both male and female artistes to continually edify themselves in order to stay relevant and abreast with the rest of the global village.

“There is no harm in studying to enhance your area of expertise; talent alone is not enough,” she told the Daily News on Sunday.

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