Kundai Marunya Art Correspondent
Afro-fusion music dominated the annual Chibuku Road to Fame Harare provincial finals held at Zimunhu Beerhall in Epworth on Saturday.
Though sungura groups were dominant in numbers, those that sang afro-fusion excelled in the competition, winning the top three positions.
Third-placed Africa Roots pocketed $200. In second place was an all-female group, Vedu, taking home $300. It was Jesa, a Chitungwiza-based group that scooped first place, pocketing $500, winning the sole ticket to represent Harare at the national finals to be held on September 29 at the Glamis Arena.
One of the judges at the competition, music legend Clive “Mono” Mukundu, said sungura artistes lacked originality that’s why they failed to oushine their afro-fusion counterparts despite their numbers.
“We judged basing on originality, stage performance and music quality. Firstly, sungura artists lacked originality, they all copied Alick Macheso.
“You can only win school competitions by copying another musician but you will never make it in the same industry as the person you are copying because when copying you become the cheaper version of that person.
“The competing groups failed to understand that sungura is not Macheso. Even way back we used to have different sounds in sungura; look at the likes of John Chibadura and even Pengaudzoke who had a different sound in the same genre,” said Mukundu.
He added that it is not the best but the unique who succeed in music, making reference to Obert Chari and ZCC Hakireni Stars who have been enjoying the limelight with their songs “Mebo” and “Ngoma Yemugidhi”, a completely new flavour in sungura.
Mukundu said sungura competitors lacked confidence on stage, uniformity in dressing and their guitars were not well tuned.
“Confidence is everything when performing on stage and most sungura groups did not have that. They were also dressed haphazardly. You could find in the same group someone dressed in a full suit, another wearing ill-matching red shoes, another member casually dressed which was really not good to look at.
“Looking at the afro-fusion groups, especially the ones that won first place, they may not have had uniforms but they dressed in the same colours, and tried as much as they can to match their designs.
“On music quality, 90 percent of sungura groups were off tune. They were using their ears instead of tuners to tune their guitar sound, and they were doing it in front of the audience, which is very unprofessional,” said Mukundu.
Meanwhile, the winning group said they would invest their prize money in their music.
“We want to buy musical instruments and invest in the future development of our talents,” said Jesa member Tichaona Muchemwa.
He added that they would rehearse hard to win the top national spot which comes with $7 000 prize money and a recording contract.
“Our music is ready for recording. We have songs that can make up to six albums,” said Muchemwa.
This was Jesa’s second attempt at the competition, having come acropper in the provincial finals in 2015.