The Sunday Mail
MANY local female musicians find it difficult to build sustainable careers owing to a host of issues, among them marriage, lack of support from promoters and prejudice.
It, therefore, takes someone with a bold spirit to stand firm in pursuing their dream, lest they become just another statistic in the game.
Mbira genius Hope Masike, who is this year celebrating 10 years in the music industry with the launch of her DVD titled “10YearsOfHope”, has defied the odds.
Her humble beginnings include playing for chairs in empty auditoriums and a lack of knowledge of music.
“I remember playing a mbira that was certainly out of tune. I have this footage and it shall be featured the ‘10YearsOfHope’ DVD. The good thing was that I was still in music school and we later did a great deal of ear training. I improved,” said Masike.
From these formative stages at the Book Café, Hope has blossomed to become a sensational vocalist, who not only serenades packed venues locally but dazzles even those in foreign countries. “My first international gig was in 2011. I performed in Norway, in a small city called Fredrikstad. Back then, the Norwegian audience would sit and watch you perform, no dancing or show of emotion. Then when you finish, they would finally clap and come to tell you how fantastic it was. That was new, very different,” recalls Hope.
To date she has performed in several countries around the world – which include Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Swaziland, Norway, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, England, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Budapest, India, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and USA.
She has two albums, namely “Mbira Love & Chocolate” as well as “Hope”, and numerous tour and collaboration credits. These include her involvement with the Norwegian transcultural outfit called Monoswezi and a 2015 live collaboration with Salif Keita.
Masike took us down memory lane. “I was in my very first year of music school, having a tea break when I received a phone call from Penny Yon of the then Book Cafe. She was asking me if I would be willing and able to take on Tuesday night slots at their venue.
“I was surprised and very excited at the same time as these had been Chiwoniso Maraire’s nights. Chiwoniso’s had left for the USA. There was no management then, so all I know now had to be learnt very fast and on the job. It is from this platform that my musical skills were honed,” narrated Hope.
The “Ndinewe” hitmaker also told The Sunday Mail Society that though she has been tempted to relocate to other countries, she considers home to be the best. “A musician’s skill, cultural capital and education can open career opportunities. So the possibility to relocate to some of the countries I tour most is always there, and yes, some offers too. Be that as it may, home is home.
“I find that my cultural capital is more fertile and ever nourished when I am based home, in touch with my roots and spirituality. Also I feel very deeply that I have much work to do here and considering where we are with technology my work can still reach any country on earth.
“I travel a lot and I have plenty friends in many countries; for me that’s a huge blessing already. Having said that, no one knows what the future holds. Should one day my career or anything else require that I relocate, I pray my heart will be in that space too; otherwise mazino (it’s problematic).”
The 2016 KORA nominee and 2013 NAMA Most Outstanding Female Artiste of the Year says access to information has been the constant challenge for her.
“Information that is/was readily available for other musicians in other countries I visited, countries that had functioning music industries and better economies, I had to search and research about, in order to learn and catch up.
“My first attempt at a music video, many years ago, I lost all my money to a bogus film director. On my second attempt, even though better had been promised so lavishly, I looked at the final product and just knew I couldn’t put it on my profile. So my constant challenge has been finding the best quality, and affording it. But I am happy to say as the Zimbabwean music industry grows each day, this is changing much faster,” explained Hope.
On her direction after reaching this 10-year milestone, she said: “Finally getting signed to a global record label is one of the things I want as I move forward with my career. Being 10 years is fun and comes with its own new responsibilities, in life a 10-year-old does not need to be accompanied to school, they even have to watch over their younger siblings and can go shopping for the family at nearby shops. There is a lot I am planning. Official word on any of it will come out once deals are officially signed,” she said.