Mbeu, when the seed germinates

Takudzwa Chihambakwe
IT was back in 2012 when music lovers first encountered him as one of the thousands vying for the top prize in the revived talent show, Starbrite.

It was evident even then, that the then teenager had something magical to offer musically.

Although Bryan K went onto win it, Ashton Nyahora, aka Mbeu, left the show with a renewed passion and six years later, he is one of the most vibrant young artistes in the nation.

On June 30, he is set to turn a new leaf in his steadily growing career as he launches his debut 10-track album, “Hatizvimirire”, at Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton.

“The journey has been a long and tough one, and we are still going,” said Mbeu in an interview with this publication last week.

“I never liked singing at both primary and high school. It was only when I finished my Ordinary level studies and joined the Anglican church choir in Norton that I discovered I was a good singer. I then became the choir leader in a short space of time and at that moment I started taking music seriously,” he recalled.

Fully aware of the potential he possessed, Mbeu started visiting Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi’s arts hub, Pakare Paye Arts Centre, to refine his skills.

“This album would not have been had it not been for Dr Tuku. He mentored me and many other youngsters, teaching us to preserve our cultural heritage – hence Afro-fusion.”

After his failed Starbrite expeditions, Mbeu and his colleagues from Pakare Paye formed the band Tsvete, which opened for Tuku on a number of occasions.

“My days with Tsvete were great, I learnt a lot and I am happy that although we were together for just under two years, we managed to record the album called ‘Vavhimi’ in 2014.

“It’s sad that I was then booted out of the group as management and my colleagues felt I was no longer pulling in the same direction with the team. But had I not been kicked out, I would probably not be where I am today,” narrated Mbeu.

Tsvete went on to disband as they lost their lead vocalist.

But, Mbeu, like a seed pushing to penetrate the earth, kept moving forward as a solo act.

“For eight months I played in Norton bars as a solo act. Slowly I began to develop a following. It was during this period that I met my first and only manager to this day, Eugene Museredza, who encouraged me to begin working on an album. In 2016 we began working on it and today it is finally here.”

The seedling still needed constant watering and mulching to blossom.

In comes Jah Prayzah.

Mbeu says had it not been for Jah Prayzah, who took him under his wing to be his opening act wherever he performs, he would not have perfected his craft.

“I have travelled nearly all of Zimbabwe since Jah Prayzah made me his opening act early last year. I have managed to access his huge fan base, leading me to cultivate more followers. But besides that I have been forced to practice hard in order to keep the crowds psyched up before he comes on stage.

“These trips influenced some of the songs on the album as I got to see what people in different places go through in the country,” revealed Mbeu.

The 25-year-old said the album marks the beginning of greater things.

Mbeu is confident: “The album is a mixed bag of delights and I am sure people will love it.”

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