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"The music is in me" - Interview with Vimbainashe Zimuto
Zanele Manhenga,
July 21, 2009

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Read Inside/Out with Vimbainashe Zimuto

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Vimbainashe ZimutoHow did you start singing?
I started in Grade One when I was in a percussion band, then went to traditional dance and I was in the school choir in primary school. Then in Form 1 up to 4, I was in the music class and I was also in the choir. We did an album called Wedding Bells when I was in Form 4. I was the main feature in the video. I did a lot of other different jobs after I finished school but I realized that I am a musician so I must be doing music. That's what I am meant for so that's what I am doing right now.

How did your parents embrace your singing at an early age considering the negatives that making music has?
First of all my parents were very supportive especially when I was in Grade One. They would buy some of the percussion instruments - I had a tambourine. My mum used to sing in church. But they passed away when I was in Grade 4 or 5 and I saw that I should proceed and be myself.

With your parents gone how did you survive?
I was very fortunate that when my parents passed away my grandmother took care of us and we managed to go school. My relatives from my dad's side helped to pay school fees for us and all that. I managed to finish school although when you have relatives paying school fees they expect you to be some thing other than a musician. They expect you to be a doctor or something they feel is appealing to society. But you cannot take the music out of you; you cannot take the talent out of you because it's there and it's given by God.

How has the death of your parents affected your style of music?
Well when I write music I try not to personalize it too much. I've got a lot of songs that talk about me and I try to make sure in as much as I am preaching things that happened to me I try to put it in a boundary so that it appeals to every other person who is in the same shoes as me. Listen

What advice would you give to parents and upcoming artists?
To parents you need to support your kid. Put them in a school that does music or encourage them to join a percussion band or clubs in the community. If it's not their calling you will see they will not like it. If they love computers put them to computers and support them. And to female artists coming up make sure you know what you want to do: if you want to be a jazz artist then jam.

What genre do you do?
African contemporary music because sometimes I play the mbira; I also put my instruments together and make the sound very African. With my first album I did a solo project; its me, mbira, ngoma, hosho . . . there's nothing much on it but on the next coming album I will be adding more of the instruments so that it becomes full.

Is your music for Africans only?
No! But if you are African you want the whole globe to see what Africans do, how they dress, how they sing, what they play and all that.

What is the lyrical content in your songs?
I sing about life generally; anything that happens in life. For this album I put Ndawana Mukana as in I got this chance and in Gudo Guru I am talking about madara and what they do to young girls. Then the third song is about a loved one leaving a spouse and those are general stories that happen and that people see day in day out. So that's what I sing.

Who writes your music?
Sometimes I do but now I want to find good songwriters who can write my music and I put my feel to it.

Tell us about your album.
I did my album last year. I launched it in June in last year and I have managed to sell a few copies.

Why is your album not doing well?
First of all I would like to blame the systems in this country. With the music industry every one just gets into the industry. Whether you are talented or not you can record an album and you can just put it on air and they play it whenever they want. The other problem is music is not viewed as a career; we are thinking music is what marombe do. But the moment they start seeing the money coming in that's when they start saying they want taxes. Before they see the money coming in they don't take it as a career. Listen

What do you think is the problem?
The problem is with the Ministry. Instead of having music in the same ministry as education and sport we need to have music on its own. The moment they do that and focus on music, I believe that's when people will start realizing that music is a career.

Where do you perform?
Mostly at the Book Café and right now I am performing with Oliver Mutukudzi and the Black Spirits. I am still looking for other venues to perform so that I will keep on enhancing myself in the industry.

What sets you apart from other artists in the industry?
I have my own type of music, my own type of feel and my own way to express it. And have my own type of voice. So I would like to say I have an identity.

Why are you opting to sing and dance for another band and not pursuing your own career?
You need to have financial stability for you to grow in the music industry. To grow you need to work with big people. I am fortunate to be working with Oliver Mutukudzi and I would like to say I have learnt a lot of things. I think it's very good to work with other artists and develop yourself.

Describe your stage performance.
I sing, I play mbira and I dance. And my music is soulful you can sit back and enjoy it.

What's with the attire you wear on stage?
If you are an African, play an African instrument and you portray an African image, you have to look like an African, you have to dress like an African and sell yourself as an African sister.

What would you change in the industry given the chance?
To the people who think they can sing yet they can't please give an opportunity to those who can because that's the thing killing the industry. If you think you can sing go through the proper channels.

Are you saying people who can't sing are killing the music industry?
Not the people who can't sing the people who keep on playing the music that is not supposed to played on air. There are a lot of good singers. But just because I have access to DJ my song can be played no matter how bad it is. That's the corrupt thing we don't want in the industry.

Given a scale of 1-10 were would you rate yourself?
8 out of 10.

Do you feel disadvantaged as a female in the industry?
I don't have any door that has been closed because I am a female. Because I got all the exposure I need and I have all the necessary connections and I can even talk to any person I want. Actually I think it's an advantage for a female coz there are a few women in the industry.

How are you juggling motherhood and your career?
Music is a very freelance job where I can have all the time I need with my child. When I am there she has all the love from her mother. Listen

Where do you see yourself in the next five - ten years?
America and Britain and back to Zimbabwe. I will always come back home.

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