Edith WeUtonga gains international acclaim

HARARE - Edith WeUtonga, a Zimbabwean musician and songwriter, has been featured on the world’s oldest and the largest broadcaster in the world, BBC.

The lead singer of the band Utonga, she was interviewed on the British public service broadcaster about her music and the Zimbabwe Music Union.

Well known for being one of the very few women locally who play the bass guitar, she said was humbled to be interviewed by the highly-influential radio station covering the majority of musical genres.

Often referred to as a jazz artiste while others have characterised her genre as contemporary traditional music, she said there was also a TV engagement brewing.

“I feel proud to have been featured on the BBC radio, with something brewing for TV,” she told the Daily News on Sunday.

“We are a few female artistes who have had that chance to be recognised. Out they recognise us yet we receive little recognition in Zimbabwe and out there our opinions are highly-regarded.

“The interview was on the Zimbabwe Music Union, what we are doing and how we feel about participating or playing at political party rallies and our perspective of the elections.”

Apart from getting her music played on the international service,  they also got to know about her motive and how what inspires her political satire.

“In Zimbabwe, we are still a patriarchal society where maybe they feel that female musicians should be left where they are and not be promoted.

“They are not being given the platform to show their skills and this is what we have been arguing against, that is the reason why we would be getting the same thing in terms of music and there is no growth in the industry,” she said.

“For example, you see promoters lining up the same male musicians, yes they want money for shows, but there should also be that balance, and it’s not like the females are not capable.”

Apart from WeUtonga, Hope Masike is another female artiste in Zimbabwe who has been receiving international recognition.

Female musicians have been missing in action at big concerts, with show promoters seemingly side-lining them as they keep recycling the same male artistes for the big concerts.

Female artistes are spread out in all genres in the local music industry and have been fighting to claim their space, but it seems their efforts are going  not recognised.

This is different from the international stages where the likes of Beyoncé are headlining big music festival such as the Coachella.

There was outrage after there had only been male artistes included on the Big Bira line-up where Thomas Mapfumo was holding a homecoming concert.

But the organisers were then forced to include Diana Samkange and Rudo Chasi.

The past events that were headlined by international and regional acts, however, most of them did not even include women.

For example, the highly-billed Davido show, the Tarrus Riley show, Morgan Heritage concert and even the one where Diamond Platnumz performed did not include female musicians.

All of these shows were supported by male artistes. Where they appear, women are only featured as dancers, or backing vocalists.

And this is what prompted women to create their own concerts under the tag line “Kumabhebhi” where they got a chance to hog the limelight.

In 2016, local female artistes were unhappy with the outcome of the annual Coca-Cola Top 50 which saw no single female musician not only making in top five but top 30 of Radio Zimbabwe end of year charts.

Selmor Mtukudzi, who has also been claiming her space internationally, told the Daily News on Sunday then that there was something wrong about the selection criteria.

“It only unfortunate that I am not well versed with the voting process but the fact that no single female artiste managed to make it on end top 30 of Coca-Cola Radio Zimbabwe’s end of year top 50 is depressing. There is something wrong about the whole process,” she said.

“Zimbabwe is awash with talented female artistes, so how did they fail to make it on that list,” said the Nguva Yangu hit-maker.

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