The famous Zimbabwean still sings

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By Ana Lapite

By Ana Lapite

Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, one of Zimbabwe’s greatest artists, has released his newest album “Nhava.” The album is blended with traditional Southern African drumming and a unique sound called Tuku music.

Prize beat proclaimed that “his music has been instrumental in strengthening our freedom, socially, politically and economically.”

Gifted with his deep, gutsy voice and talent for writing songs that reflect on the daily life and struggles of the people in his homeland, he is known for being one of the few innovators of the Zimbabwean music scene.

Known to the music world as Tuku, his music has been named after him because it is so distinct from any Zimbabwean style.

His popularity not only comes from his distinct sound but from his lyrics. Most of his songs focus on the social and economic issues that govern his people and also his sense of humor that prevails in all of his music.

Tuku’s professional music career began in 1977 and success came with the release of his first single “Dzandimomotera” which went gold. When Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980, Tuku and his band called the Black Spirits produced “Africa” which is considered one of the most important albums of its time and had hits on it like “Zimbabwe.”

He has released albums every year since then until 1997 and established himself as a producer, arranger and song writer.

He had a desire to bring his message to a larger audience and he ventured into film and drama. He participated in several documentaries about Zimbabwean music in the 1980s.

Tuku found film success in 1990 when he played the lead role in a feature film with an all Zimbabwean cast called JIT, which has been released in Denmark, France and the UK. He composed and arranged the soundtrack for Zimbabwe’s second film called “Neria,” which won him the M’Net award for Best Soundtrack of 1992.

“The juxtaposition of what Mtukudzi sings about and his raw, imploring, vocal reminds me of Otis Redding, Toots Hilbert, and some of my favorite reggae bands,” said Bonnie Raitt, who has recorded several songs with Tuku.

Tuku’s music speaks to the soul of anyone who will listen to it.The messages that are in the lyrics are aimed at social and political problems in Zimbabwe for liberation with soothing drumming styles like the Korekore in the background.

Tuku makes a point through his music and lyrics. He says that music is music no matter what parts of the world it comes from, and if it is saying something to help its people, then it is a powerful force.

“Nhava” is Tuku’s newest release and it continues to fight for economic and political justice that people all over the world have a desire for, including America.

A tour has been set for 2005 for the U.S., UK, and Europe and Tuku will perform for the first time in January at the Sydney Festival.

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