The Sunday Mail
WITH Miombo Magic Festival shelved for this year, music lovers in Zimbabwe were left with few options with regards to getting a musical experience different from the norm.
Most promoters seem to be reading from the same script and the end product is a predictable line-up, which rarely creates memories as they keep repeating the same song lists and delivering performances in the same way.
But the heavens, just like in the days of Moses, heard the cries of its children and responded.
After a two-year hiatus, the Solo Fest, a brainchild of Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, returned to offer music lovers the missing wow factor.
With a good mix of budding, established as well as international acts dishing out top drawer performances at the tranquil Pakare Paye Arts Centre grounds in Norton, this was the place to be for quality music lovers.
The platform gave band members of various artistes a chance to shine as they are usually in the shadow of the band leader or lead vocalist.
While most performances were spot-on, there were some outstanding ones.
The first outstanding act was from the “guitar sangoma”, Sylent Nqo. Armed with his guitar, the giant whose roots trace back to Churchill High School has massive stage presence. He captured the attention of the audience even before he began performing.
When Nqo started strumming and singing, the audience immediately fell in love with him. The lad proved that he can grow to match or even surpass the standards set by legends like Louis Mhlanga.
Another act who wowed the crowd was Mbeu. Using home ground advantage, the “Hatizvimirire” singer got the crowd dancing and singing throughout his entire set.
With the two having set the tone, in came the hotshots.
South Africa-based Zimbabwean musician, Berita, took to the stage and the beauty serenaded the audience with her rich Afrocentric delivery. If they were awards on the day, she would have definitely bagged the best vocalist gong – even angels were in awe.
“I really enjoyed performing at the Solo Fest 2018. Sharing the stage with Baba Tuku and Zahara is an experience I will cherish forever. It was also wonderful to listen to local acts, I particularly enjoyed Hope Masike’s set,” said Berita after her performance.
Dr Tuku was up next and like Mbeu, he got the crowd singing and dancing along with him.
After Tuku came in Zahara. The “Ndiza” singer showed off her vocal range – a factor that set her apart from the other acts.
To ensure she had total control of the crowd, she occasionally allowed people to sing as her backing vocalists as well as inviting some to sing whilst she played her guitar.
“It is always great to perform in Zimbabwe and when it is your own father hosting you, it becomes even more special,” said Zahara, adding, “Zimbabwe has a lot of talent but the musicians have to keep working hard to refine their skills. A platform like the Solo Fest creates an opportunity for people to hone their skills.”