May 7 was the date and the venue was La Rouge Restaurant in Westgate, Harare where a small crowd gathered to see Tendai Manatsa and wife Selmor Mtukudzi launch their fourth and fifth albums respectively.
Never mind the poor turnout, this is generally the case for shows across the capital at present.
In recent weeks people have not flocked to live music performances by Alick Macheso (Dandaro Inn), Oliver Mtukudzi (The Volt) and Jah Prayzah (New Theatre in The Park).
However, a more central venue and better timing could have worked more favourably for the celebrity couple of Tendai and Selmor.
The launch itself was unique, with a boxing match concept being applied.
First to be introduced on stage was Tendai dressed in a blue robe whilst Selmor came out bouncing and ready to battle in a shiny golden one.
They then performed songs from their new albums, with each artiste singing one track and asking the audience to vote for their favourite.
After three rounds, Selmor emerged victorious and was unanimously awarded “man-of-the-moment belt”. The couple also celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary that night.
Although Selmor might have walked away victorious, defending her Best Female Artiste of the Year award she scooped at the 2016 NAMA awards might prove to be an uphill task with her new project, “I Am Woman”.
The nine-track album has a lot of fusions giving it a hippy urban-contemporary feel but she also retains elements of Afro-pop, which many know her for. Sadly though, most of the tracks do not have that zing which makes one want to put the album on repeat.
The lyrical content is pretty good but some of the song arrangements could have been titivated to show that this is the work of an artiste who has shone on the local and international stage.
One song that promises to standout is “Zvidikidiki”, where she brings out that funky Afro style that made her the talk of town with her hit track “Nguva Yangu” from the album “Expressions”.
Tendai’s seven-track “Bhomba” is a palatable offering but will not really push him into the big time considering the big boys like Oliver Mtukudzi, Sulumani Chimbetu, Jah Prayzah and Winky D will be dropping their albums soon.
Musically, Manatsa is pretty much on point but his greatest weakness is his vocal technique. At times he slightly sings off key. Promising tracks from his project are “Ndichifema” where he features rapper Stunner, and “Kuvhetemesa”. For both artistes, like was the case with Macheso’s “Tsoka Dzerwendo”, it seems the idea of mixing and mastering their work at their own studio, Manatsa Music Studio, was not a good one, as there is a lack of that magical touch an independent producer brings. Though it is the way to go as many world-class musicians such as Jonathan Butler and R Kelly can play instruments, arrange, record as well as mix and master music on their albums, perhaps Zimbabwean artistes need to wait just a little longer.
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