The Sunday Mail
Our very own Zim dancehall may be chaotic and disorganised owing to some unscrupulous artistes, fans or promoters who have their shortcomings but to describe it as nonsense that has no future might be an exaggeration.
Many-a-time people have been appalled by the level of creativity being exhibited by young boys and girls in high density suburbs who spend most of their time penning songs hitting the studios in the process ensuring that reggae and dancehall music lovers are satisfied and without any doubt sustaining livelihood.
Shalvin “Empress Shelly” Chagwada from Chitungwiza is one of the finest female vocalist ever to emerge from this genre.
With artistes being churned out almost on a daily basis, Empress Shelly is confident of making her cut in the competitive genre.
Born in the dusty high density suburb of Unit M in Chitungwiza 22 years ago and raised by her grandmother, Gogo Janet Chagwada after her parents divorced, Empress Shelly is determined to stop at nothing.
She ventured into music some two years ago, first under the wings of Newton “Badman” Gwanangura only to go solo in 2013 when Badman left the country for South Africa.
She says she draws most of her inspiration from Tocky Vibes who is currently riding high with a list of hit songs.“I listen to Tocky Vibes a lot and I love reading Shona novels that is where I draw most of my inspiration from and I also ensure that my lyrics have a deeper meaning that speak directly to all my fans.
“And yes, attitude, I believe attitude is very essential in making a statement in the music industry, having the positive attitude is what I value the most, am an unruly girl,” said Empress Shelly.“Attitude is really essential to any given situation and usually an artiste’s attitude determines his/her success and failure, it makes a bold statement which then lures more or less fans,” she added. Having toured South Africa and Mozambique under Badman’s tutelage and as his backing vocalist between 2011 and 2012, Empress Shelly says she has not gained much exposure but it prepared her for a budding solo career.
“It is very difficult to mention my name without Badman’s because he inspired and mentored me, and he even helped with the name “Empress Shelly” and with most of my songs, he assisted and I still maintain my allegiance to him even though I am now on my own, he is a brother to me.”
The youthful vocalist has over 25 singles and she is officially signed with Jeepers Mad Producer (JMP) of Legendary Sound and has hit songs which include “Fresh and Clean”, “Hondo Yemweya” on Imagination riddim produced by Equation, “Mufare” on Body Slam riddim produced by PTK, “Zvibingaidzo” on Jacqueline riddim produced by DJ Fydale and “Misodzi Yangu” on Unruly Chrome riddim produced by JMP.
Like any given categories of art, she says Zimdancehall is not without its highs and lows especially when it comes to ladies, adding that some male fans have a tendency of asking for “a smoke” from female singers when they hold live shows or associating them with alcoholism, drugs and prostitution, which ends up stigmatising female MCs.
“Not everyone into Zim dancehall loves to get intoxicated so that they gather up courage whilst performing and it surely doesn’t mean we all do drugs.
I am completely free from drugs and alcohol, I do not get down like that, i am always 100 percent sober,” she said.
Empress Shelly also said some of her fellow chanters are hungry for power and fame such that they use dirty lyrics and yet on the contrary, she gained popularity when she switched to cleaner lyrics.“It is the general misconception in Zim dancehall that you only become popular by making a statement, a controversial one but that is so wrong. I only gained popularity when I started singing sensible and cleaner lyrics.
“People forget that this is still Africa and we are in Zimbabwe, we are people with values and morals, vulgarity has no place here,” she also said.