SAM Mtukudzi’s tragic passing may have stunned his family and the nation — but it seems the young artiste sensed something was about to happen.
The Sunday Mail Leisure has learnt that in January 2010, two months before the accident that claimed his life and that of his friend-cum-manager Owen Chimhare, Sam penned and recorded a song bidding farewell to his parents.
Titled “Rwendo Rwauya”, the song — whose title and lyrics would soon prove prophetic — is part of a 14-track posthumous album “Misiirwa”, set for release this Friday at the Sam Mtukudzi Tribute Concert at Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton.
The show features his father Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, family friend Alick Macheso, and friends Jah Prayzah and Suluman Chimbetu. The headline act of that gig is 21-year-old son of veteran singer Willom Tight, Gary.
Gary, a former Churchill Boys High School student and prominent member of the school’s jazz band, will on that night — for a solid hour — perform exclusively Sam compositions.
Also on the bill is PE Jazz Band, Sam Dondo and Pakare Paye Ensemble, on a night where Sam’s fresh posthumous album, which has proved too good to waste away in the vault, will also be on sale at the venue.
As for his own death prediction, “Rwendo Rwauya” could not have been more direct.
“Rwendo rwangu rwauya amai ndoenda, baba batai nepapo baba wee-e. Mbuva Yangu ndarongedza musanditeere, musanditeere. . .” sings Sam in his distinct boyish voice in the six-year-old recording.
Unlike the other 24 unreleased songs that were lumped together in a folder on Sam’s computer, “Rwendo Rwauya”, was tucked away in its own folder, the song itself, carrying just that one verse and a variety of instruments to accompany the predictive lyrics.
In an exclusive interview with Tuku at Pakare Paye Arts Centre while listening to the album, which he compiled and mastered, the superstar said he felt that Sam was trying to tell them something.
“This is a direct message to me and the mother (daisy). Sam was a great composer, a great writer, a talented boy. He could have said more but he didn’t. That verse is all he sang,” said a sombre Mtukudzi.
“Many people may wonder why it took me six years to release these songs, let alone take time to celebrate Sam the way we are doing now. The truth is I never enjoyed listening to his stuff after he died. Listening to his voice was a pain.”
Sam’s first posthumous release “Cheziya”, also reminds Tuku of his son’s death.
“The day that he gave me the master copy of the album to listen, the day after, that is when he died,” said Tuku. “This year in January, that is when I gathered enough courage to open the folders and listen to his music. And I said, well, let’s let the people know. We are fighting very hard to let it (Sam’s death) go. But anga asiri mwana wedu tega. Just last month, I received his Honorary Award from Churchill High School. The kids there, what they said about him, the speeches, he meant a lot to them.
“He meant a lot to many kids out there.
‘‘They wanted to be like him. And the people from Churchill chose February 26 to honour him, which is the day we last performed together in 2010 at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale when we did ‘Nzou neMhuru’.”
Mtukudzi went on: “This year has just been a year to celebrate him. It’s a celebration without tears. If it is true that the departed see and hear us from the world yonder, I am sure he is happy. This year our church has decided to come and host their Easter here at Pakare Paye and just now we had over 30 pastors here. It is a different year.”
On why he chose to have Gary Tight as the prime act, the one to do Sam’s songs in honour of the “Ndakura Wani” singer, Tuku said it was a natural choice.
“It’s the way Gary does Sam’s songs. You cannot play someone’s music like that if it is not wholehearted. He takes it upon himself to say ‘I’m Sam’. And he seemed to be the perfect choice considering that we are celebrating Sam.
“Come to think of it, his father is my friend, Willom ndiye wangu ka. We used to tease each other that our kids were taking over our careers. In fact, it was Willom who told me how good Gary sang Sam’s songs, long after he had died.”
Gary Tight, who was at Pakare Paye for rehearsals when the Leisure team arrived at the venue, said he was inspired by the late singer.
“Sam was way older than me and way advanced music-wise. I first listened to his material when he was still 17 or 18-years-old. My dad brought his CD home, apparently to inspire me — and it did.
“The only instrument I played then was the mbira, but Sam inspired me to play the guitar because he could play almost every musical instrument,” narrated Gary.
Gary’s favourite Sam Mtukudzi songs are “Amai”, “Ndakura Wani” and “Wadzanai”. He says he respects Sam for standing as an artiste in his own right and not being covered by his dad’s shadow.
“Sam was someone who was trying to be his own man. He did not overly imitate his dad. His lyrics were deep and his chording was always on point. He was really creative.”
The late Sam’s latest album also carries “Ichakwana Nguva”, a track which features his father, Tuku.
“It was always a collaboration, we did it before he died,” explained Tuku.
There is also “Tsuri Yangu”, an instrumental, where Sam’s saxophone was the only beat.
Other tracks are “Mumeso Ake”, a gospel song, “Ngariende”, “Kusatenda Huroyi”, “Ngoromera” a Tuku redo off the album ‘Bvunze Moto’, “Shungu Dzangu”, “Yokuruma”, “Baba Wedu”, “Ruoko Rwako”, “Maria Wanetsa” and “Tibatane”
Singing from the grave
Sam Mtukudzi’s second posthumous album hits the streets this Friday. We list some of the best international posthumous albums of all time.
Marvin Gaye — Dream of a Lifetime (1985), Romantically Yours (1985) and Vulnerable (1997)
Tupac Shakur —The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996), R U Still Down?, Remember Me (1997), Still I Rise (1999), Until the End of Time (2001), Better Dayz (2002), Tupac: Resurrection (2003), Loyal to the Game (2004) and Pac’s Life (2006)
Elvis Presley — Unchained Melody (1978 single), Softly as I Leave You (1978 single), Loving Arms (1981 single) Compilations — He Walks Beside Me (1978), Mahalo from Elvis (1978), This Is Elvis (1981), Memories of Christmas (1982), I Was the One (1982), Reconsider Baby (1985), Love Me Tender (1987), Heart and Soul (1994), Country Side of Elvis (2001), Christmas Duets (2008) and If I Can Dream (2015), among many others
The Notorious B.I.G — Life After Death (1997), Born Again (1997) and Duets: The Final Chapter (1997).
Aaliyah — I Care 4 U (2001)
Michael Jackson — Bad 25 (2012) and Xscape (2014)
Jimi Hendrix — First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997) and Live at the Fillmore East (1999)
Ray Charles — Genius Loves Company (2004), Genius and Friends (2005)
Bob Marley — Confrontation (1983)
Amy Winehouse — Lioness: Hidden Treasures (2011)
Otis Redding — The Dock of the Bay (1968), The Immortal Otis Redding (1968), Love Man (1969) and Tell the Truth (1970)
John Lennon – Milk and Honey (1984)
Lucky Dube — Rykodisc (2008)
Jeff Buckley — Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk (1998)
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