Banolila girl brings back old groove

Tsitsi Ndabambi Leisure Correspondent
FORMER Iyasa star, Tsungai Tsikirai, has returned to the teeming music world with her own Afro-contemporary groove. The award-winning singer, songwriter and dancer, who is now based in the United Kingdom, was last heard of on this side of the equator in 2015 at the Mporiro Festival where she was recognised for her contribution to contemporary music.
Born and raised in Bulawayo, this was Tsungai’s second award after receiving the Best Music Female Artiste for 2014 at the ZIMA Awards. From that time she left a void, which she recently filled by releasing her brand new album “Rova Ngoma”.
Recently, she was in Zimbabwe and she did a number of shows in Harare and Bulawayo. Some of the places where she left fans clamouring for more include Ibumba Festival and a Diva’s Night – both shows were in the City of Kings and Queens.
Her most memorable gig, however, was at a Harare hotel where she shared the stage with Talking Guitars on December 30, 2016 for the live band jukebox sessions.
The talented vocalist confessed that this was one of her best moments on stage in Zimbabwe.
“It was a cosy affair. The audience, the stage and the performers just blended and there was this intimate interaction. I performed tracks from my new album as well requested songs. I felt like I had been put on a tight spot at first but I managed to handle myself well,” said Tsikirai.
This reporter was in attendance at the Harare show where revellers requested that she play a number of songs including Chioniso’s “Wandirasa”, Aunty Dot’s “Pata Pata”, “Weekend Special” by Brenda Fassie and Lovemore Majaivana and Steve Makoni’s “Handiende”.
With her beautiful mellow voice, she sang heartily in unison with Talking Guitars as if they had long been in a musical love relationship. However, it was her versatility that charmed many music lovers as she also threw in her own songs like “Nkululeko”, title track “Rova Ngoma” and the famous traditional wedding song “Londolozela”.
Her own music was well received by the audience, which somehow gave her the energy to continue singing – and revellers danced into the wee hours.
“I released this album to break boundaries. As individuals we should all embrace diversity and celebrate each other. I believe in using my talent to build a better world,” she said.
Tsikirai first introduced “Rova Ngoma” at the Breaking Boundaries Concert, which was held in Maidenhead, UK, in August last year.
“It was a way of communicating resilience and empowering individuals facing difficulties in the process of pursing their dreams. I collaborated with different artistes in raising awareness and also supported the work being done by Nyasha Gwatidzo of Vana Trust, an organisation looking after the best interests of orphaned children,” she said.
Tsikirai joined the world of arts at a tender age of 15 at Mpopoma High School. She was part of the birthing of Iyasa Performing Arts Group under the musical direction of Nkululeko Dube.
She was later scouted by Albert Nyathi whom she worked with and later moved on to join the late Andy Brown.
The well-travelled artiste said, “I would like to empower, entertain, educate and inspire through my music – that is why I have taken the initiative of partnering with Vana Trust, which helps orphans in Zimbabwe. I believe that our children deserve a better future and the responsibility falls on us to lead the way. Together we can break boundaries. I look forward to sharing a piece of me with the world.”

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