THE highly-rated Prince Edward Jazz Band will participate in all Samson “Sam” Mtukudzi commemoration gigs for free as a thank you gesture to the Mtukudzi family, a senior school official has said.
The PE Jazz Band has over the years received recognition from the diplomatic community that includes the South African, American, Italian and Spanish embassies.
In an interview last week, Prince Edward High School head of music, Mr Elias Mapiye, said the death of Sam on March 15, 2010 had not weakened the bond between the school and the Mtukudzi family.
Oliver Mtukudzi’s son died in a road accident aged 22 along with his longtime friend-cum-manager, Owen Chimhare.
According to Mr Mapiye, Sam was not only a successful ambassador of the PE Jazz Band, but for the entire school; hence his contribution deserves due recognition. Certainly, the lad was a character of strong will and destined to go places.
And his death was not only a loss to the Mtukudzi family and Prince Edward School, but the nation and to some extent the world at large.
Accordingly, the late versatile musician’s work and legacy will be remembered through a tribute show in Norton at Pakare Paye Arts Centre on March 18.
Mr Mapiye says the institution is not going to make any demands for its participation in the Sam Mtukudzi Tribute Show, which features top artistes like Jah Prayzah, Alick Macheso, Suluman Chimbetu, Mtukudzi and others.
He adds that the late artiste was a selfless individual who often volunteered to perform for students despite commitments elsewhere.
“Sam was raising the Prince Edward flag high through his organised music and I’m certain he was going to continue doing so. In that regard I guess it is only right for us to payback accordingly,” said Mr Mapiye.
“Maybe the organisers will decide to give us transport or may come up with any sort of gesture they wish but the bottom line is we are not going to charge anything for our involvement at the event now or in the future.”
The PE Jazz Band will compose a tribute song for Sam.
“I have since notified the old boys to come and be part of the act on the day. They will feature on our slot. Those that I have not had the opportunity to contact are also invited. We owe Sam a lot and whenever the Mtukudzi family wants our services, we will unreservedly render it to them,” says Mr Mapiye.
The Prince Edward head of music describes the loss of the versatile artiste six years ago as a “fatal blow” that will haunt the music industry for years.
“If Sam was alive, he was going to be among the few artistes that are making a difference today. His contribution to the school band was significant and helped redefine things. It’s sad that due to his loss we are now forced to listen to pathetic and raw artistes,” bemoans Mr Mapiye.
“We lost a special talent, especially myself. He was my product and I hoped that he was going to go places in redefining the Zimbabwean music landscape. It is going to take ages for me to forget about the loss.”
Mr Mapiye says Sam’s musical background made working with him easy.
“We really appreciate the work his father (Oliver Mtukudzi) was doing on him. He already had the knowledge to play the guitar, thus I trained him the saxophone, which he was more interested in. In fact, the saxophone is the international instrument he chose for his Ordinary Level exams,” he said.
Sam enrolled at Prince Edward in 2001.
Due to his keen interest and undeniable talent, Oliver’s son immediately got a place in the school choir. In the same year, he was promoted to the senior choir.
“He participated in the annual Allied Arts competition in the Jazz Band when they were seniors that could have been part of the group. In most cases it is Form Two’s and above that make the grade for the senior group but he changed that. In the Jazz Band, he was playing the saxophone and through his contribution the group won the Allied Arts honours award,” reminisces Mr Mapiye.
According to the school official, the plan was to make Sam band leader in Lower Six. Sadly, the usually above average performer in class did not get adequate passes to guarantee him an Advance Level place and he moved to another school – against Mr Mapiye’s wish.
“I wrote a letter to the then headmaster Mr Clive Barnes requesting that he proceeds to A-level but the father (Oliver) was against the move. I tried sweet talking him to let the child follow his music dream but he did not come around. He was transferred.
“But since he was a musical person, he went on to inspire the formation of a music department at his new school. His performance after school went on and still inspires a lot of our students. He was a hero,” declares Mr Mapiye.
Notable PE Jazz Band graduates include Hillary Chisepo, Brian Mambo, Thabani Gapara (who went on to study music at the University of KwaZulu Natal), Humphrey Domboka, Tinashe Mukarati (who is now a school director of music), Vimbayi Mukarati (now a full-time musician) and talented saxophonist Aubrey Kabambe.
After school, Sam formed the AY Band.
He played the acoustic guitar and teamed up with Victor Chiduku (drums), Jacob Tofa (keyboard), Vimbai Mukarati (saxophone) while Don Gumbo Jnr played bass guitar.
Sam released his debut album, “Rume Rimwe”, in 2007. His second offering, “Cheziya”, was a 10-track album released posthumously.
Meanwhile, businessman Taka Mashonganyika and promoter Josh Hozheri, who are co-ordinating the tribute show, say they are good to go.
To spice up the Tuku, Sulu, Jah Prayzah and Macheso-led line-up, upcoming artiste Sam Dondo, Pakare Paye Ensemble and Gary Tight will also perform.
“March 18 is going to be all about Sam. We are saying to Sam’s fans and friends as well as Mtukudzi family friends here is a day to celebrate the life and time we had with Sam. Come let us remember him with music and dance in Norton,” said Mashonganyika.
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