The Sunday Mail
ONLY two local musicians have individually filled up the Harare International Conference Centre in recent memory – Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi and Jah Prayzah.
Sungura icon Alick Macheso tried and failed, as did Zora music star Leonard Zhakata. The late Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo always came to the party as a supporting act or the icing on the cake for an event that already had its crowd, like Miss Zimbabwe et al.
Legend Simon “Chopper” Chimbetu may have filled up stadia around the country in his heyday but he never attempted the HICC till his death in 2005.
The giant auditorium, nestled in Rainbow Towers Hotel, is as magnificent as it is imposing.
It frightens promoters the same way it terrifies artistes. Promoters worry about the risk of financing an HICC event and not being able to recoup the investment while a flop for a musician may break their spirit and kill the singer’s confidence.
No one really blamed Winky D’s camp for lacking the courage to go hunting alone at the HICC, although, many quietly encouraged him to try. After several unsuccessful attempts by different promoters to convince the king of Zim dancehall to attempt to fill up the giant venue — it appears the artiste has finally yielded.
Forget that the event itself, which is an album launch/birthday bash actually looks like one of those yesteryear galas with its crowded line-up, it is still Winky D’s reputation on the line. This Friday, Winky D, who has an affinity for egotistic monikers, releases his 11th effort “Gombwe” (Guiding Spirit) at the HICC. It is not clear what may have finally motivated this introvert (in real life) to finally take his solo act to the massive auditorium — but one cannot rule out the fear of an ever increasing gap between himself and the only other worthy local competitor, Jah Prayzah.
Since Jah Prayzah’s April 16, 2014 audacious attempt with the album “Kumbumura Mhute” only managed to get half the seats occupied — he has since filled up the HICC several times. His successive albums “Jerusarema”, “Mdhara Vachauya” and “Kutonga Kwaro” have been launched at the HICC and the venue overflowed each time.
This is Winky D’s first attempt. The music world awaits to see if he has what it takes — crowd pulling power, temperament and all. Will he tame the HICC or will it break him? Jah Prayzah was defeated on his first attempt but he definitely was not pacified — he tried again — and now the venue is as good as a tamed beast — only for the Military Touch Commander. When last the “Kutonga Kwaro” singer performed at the HICC, he needed not more than 48 hours to advertise — and the venue almost filled to the rafters.
Winky D, who last year did a number of sold out concerts in different towns around the country, at his most attended shows, he never sold more than half of the HICC’s holding capacity of 5 000. Yet 5 000 plus is what he needs for this show. His partners for the event, 2 Kings Entertainment, say it is a done deal as Winky D fans started buying tickets on the very first day that they went on sale – January 9, 2018.
However, some have pointed out that there has not been enough noise about the gig, and neither are corporates falling over each other as they do for Jah Prayzah. But the promoters partnering Winky D’s Vigilance Music are optimistic. “The noise may not be as much as that which Jah Prayzah’s team makes but the interest from music fans is the same if not better. So far we have sold almost 2 000 tickets and it is not even the week of the show,” said 2 Kings’ Dee Nosh on Friday last week.
The stage has been set; will Winky D follow in the footsteps of legends like Tuku and tame the beast, or will he like Macheso and Zhakata recoil into his cocoon after failing the test?
There are only five days left to find out!