PROLIFIC musical legend, Oliver Mtukudzi has made more albums than his actual years on this planet. If that is not a magnificent feat maybe the fact that he’s always on the line-up of many concerts and shows at age 62 can do the trick.
Mtukudzi (affectionately known as Tuku) began performing in 1977 when he joined the Wagon Wheels, a band that also featured Thomas Mapfumo.
Their single Dzandimomotera went gold and Tuku’s first album followed, which was also a major success. Mtukudzi is also a contributor to Mahube, Southern Africa’s super group, led by saxophonist Steve Dyer.
With his husky voice, Tuku has become the most recognised voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond.
This is why we jumped at the opportunity to sit down and chat with the music legend about his latest album, Mukombe Wemvura, which means a calabash of water.
Ever so poetic and musically relevant Mtukudzi’s 10-track album, his 63rd album to date, was one of the well-received albums of 2014, judging by the Twitter response.
“Music comes from the people and as long as people are there, there’s always something to talk about and when there’s something to talk about there’s something to sing about. I get everything from the people and I give it back,” he says citing his inspiration for the new album.
Tuku incorporates elements of different musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as Tuku Music. The musician has incorporated all these elements with a thematic tone throughout the album.
“The inspiration for Mukombe Wemvura is a healing heart. Mukombe Wemvura is a glass of water. So every piece of music in this album is like a glass of water. It can quench your thirst,” he says.
Tuku admits that his process of making music has not changed in all these years. Though his last album Sarawoga, was inspired by the death of his son and released for his 60th birthday, this time around he used a collection of songs he’d been working on for years.
“What happens is that when I write a song, I don’t write a song with an album in mind because my concentration is on the particular topic of that song.
“After I have a number of songs that’s when I think of compiling to make an album that deals with different issues because I don’t want to duplicate,” he says.
Tuku primarily tours the UK, the USA and Canada, performing to large audiences. A highlight for Oliver in 2013 was being inducted into the Afropop Hall of Fame in the USA after performing to 10,000 New Yorkers at the Central Park Summer Stage Festival.
He recently performed at Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town where he bought together artists from all sorts of different backgrounds and race groups. Always one to shy away from politics, his music has transcended even the most political of songs.
As a musician who also works with younger artists from different genres, Mtukudzi has a soft spot for the youth and their development. One of his songs in the new album deals with exactly that and sums up the reason why this man is so relevant and has stayed on top for so many decades.
“It came from the fact that our youngsters, what they are going to achieve is where they gain pride or respect but I say no, it’s what you have already done that gains you respect. It’s not where you are going but where you are coming from.”
This article was originally published by iAfrica.com