The Sunday Mail
SUNGURA maestro, Alick Macheso, is taking his Orchestra Mberikwazvo band management to another level.
The veteran musician has enlisted the services of Eirik Hoff Walmsness as the group’s international manager.
Walmsness is a versatile musician who is based in Trondheim, Norway.
The drummer, guitarist and vocalist is currently in the country for a three-week visit that ends this week.
This is not the Norwegian’s first visit. He frequently comes to Zimbabwe for a number of ventures, which include the ongoing recording of his debut sungura project. Macheso, also known as Baba Sharo, believes adding Walmsness to his management team will help boost his global visibility.
The “Charakupa” hit-maker has a healthy regional following. However, his presence overseas – like that of many Zimbabwean artistes – is confined mainly to the United Kingdom and Australia.
“We have big plans with Eirik (Walmsness). Zvemuno takagadzirisa (we have sorted the local market) and now need to solidify our brand beyond borders. Eirik is based in Europe and has a lot of connections in the showbiz that side, which we can take advantage of by working with him as our international manager,” said Baba Sharo.
He added: “The guy has natural love for sungura and our group Orchestra Mberikwazvo in particular. He likes African music and that has made it easy for us to work with him, in the process promoting culture exchange. My team has embraced him.”
Late national hero and veteran singer Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi created a fresh wave in his music career at the turn of the new millennium after engaging the services of Debbie Metcalfe.
Metcalfe not only instilled professionalism in Dr Tuku’s camp but helped popularise Tuku Music overseas through her solid connections. Walmsness, who was expected to officially sign his new work contract last Friday, said he felt honoured by the new responsibility.
“Alick is a great musician who must not be limited by boundaries. His music has the potential to make it big on the international market. It’s a privilege to be working with this legend and I’m going to help grow his brand. I want him to play in new countries,” he said.
But how does the 32-year-old artiste-cum-manager, a holder of a degree in Musicology, plan to achieve his mission?
Most local artistes who go for foreign gigs often play for Zimbabweans based in the diaspora, not to new overseas audiences.
“I have a lot under my sleeve. However, let me just say I’m going to start by linking him up with new recording opportunities and festivals in Europe. The late Tuku was successful abroad through creating a continuous presence.
“Hitting new markets is not easy, but eventually we will get there. I’m certain whoever gets to watch Macheso in action or listen to his music will want more. I’m going after untapped opportunities outside Zimbabwe’s borders,” revealed Walmsness.
The Norwegian first came to know about Baba Sharo’s music in 2013 via the internet.
Before that, the only Zimbabwean talent he knew was the late Dr Tuku, whom he had met at a gig in Norway.
But Baba Sharo’s 2015 performance at the Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa) gave Walmsness more insight into sungura.
“After my Hifa performance, I got a chance to attend Alick’s show. I was impressed by what I saw. I joined him on stage and played drums. His fans were impressed, they couldn’t believe that a murungu (white man) was playing sungura drums,” he narrated with a chuckle.
“From that day, Alick welcomed me and I have been in constant touch with him. I have also come to know about other sungura artistes like John Chibadura, Leonard Dembo, Nicholas Zacharia, Tongai Moyo and so on.”
Macheso’s local management team, which comprises of Lucky Macheso and Tich Makahamadze, has embraced the latest addition to their team.
“Eirik has been working with us for some time now and we seem to be blending well. We have always wanted to improve our global presence and I think he can help us in that regard,” reckoned Makahamadze.