By Godwin Muzari and Tawanda Marwizi
A gigantic venue filled to the brim, atmosphere unbelievable and to top it all, the stage acts were fantastic. It was an electric night at the Harare International Conference Centre as music fans were literally taken on a merrymaking contest.
The event had its highs and lows, but, collectively, it was historic affair. Jah Prayzah nailed it with an exquisite launch of his “Mdhara Vachauya” album last Friday.
His dream to have a capacity crowd at the venue, which he could not convincingly achieve last December with his “Fill Up HICC”concert, came with exceeding abundance that can only be described as an historic overflow.
Coming to HICC after two other album launches of by his “elders” in the industry — Alick Macheso and Leonard Zhakata — at the same venue, Jah Prayzah made a bold statement in as far as his growing popularity and stature is concerned.
The fête was evidently achieved by the massive marketing campaign that preceded the event.
While the level of the work that Jah Prayzah — a gangly star who grew up as a humble Mukudzei Mukombe in Uzumba — did on “Mdhara Vachauya” can momentarily be reserved as a subject for another day, kudos should go to his management and marketing teams for a job well done.
As goes with any other mega event, especially when results outweigh anticipations, there were some glitches at the album launch, but they could not overshadow the general opulence of the occasion. Indeed, “Mdhara Vachauya” was unveiled in a mammoth manner and other local artistes should be drooling at the young man’s precision when he aims for the best.
The 11-track album has songs that include “Hossana”, “Tsotsi”, “Seke”, “Kurumidza” and “In the Ghetto”.
However, despite the excitement that blew up HICC, the event also had its grey areas and The Herald Review dissects the launch highlighting its highs and lows of the night.
Jah Prayzah’s performance
The musician maintained his best choreography with his team and performed his old and new hits in a way that brought the house down. Because most people that are not avid followers of Jah Prayzah’s shows did not know the new songs, old tunes like “Gochi Gochi”, “Eriza” and “Tiise Mawoko” and “Tsviriyo” proved to be still popular.
The team looked stunning it its military regalia that has become part of its identity and the singers, instrumentalists and dancers were up to their tasks.
However, the unexplained absence of popular backing vocalist and ever-smiling dancer Pamela Zulu, widely known as Gonyeti, from the line-up seemed to infuriate some fans that repeatedly shouted her name, apparently inquiring why she was not on stage.
While The Herald Review has learnt that she did not come because she is protesting against being left out of recent international tours, Jah Prayzah’s failure to diplomatically respond to the fans’ calls left a gap in his act.
The other backing vocalist Fatima Katiji did well to single-handedly fill the gap of the usually double-barrelled female voices, but fans apparently had other reasons to call for Gonyeti.
It has become tradition for Jah Prayzah to incorporate dance groups at his album launches and videos as a way of empowering them.
He temporarily called another dance group on stage for one of his songs, but the dancers did not live up to previous standards set by their predecessors on stage and on set.
Official unveiling of the album
The album came with the release of the video for “Watora Mari” that features Tanzanian star Diamond Platinumz.
The crowd went ecstatic when the video was unveiled and it is indeed destined to be popular. Master of ceremonies Napoleon “Napster” Nyanhi had to call for a replay because the auditorium went wild with the good video that was shot in South Africa.
Jah Prayzah has set himself a target of one million views in 10 days on YouTube for the video. Unlike last year, when he released “Eriza” video that featured dancer Lady Storm and took several weeks to reach 200 000 views, “Watora Mari” reached 130 000 views in less than two days after its release.
His manager, Keen Mushapaidze, said visibility on social media can create a wider fan base for them.
“Our United States tour gave us a lot of lessons in terms of social media presence. In that regard we have targeted about one million views in 10 days,” he said.
The video has so far received positive response on social media.
However, the actual unveiling of the album was not smooth. It seemed as though Jah Prayzah and his team had no Plan B in case their guest of honour did not pitch up to officially unveil the release as expected.
They ended up seemingly ambushing Oliver Mtukudzi, who had just finished his act, to come back on stage to officially launch “Mdhara Vachauya”.
It was clear that Mtukudzi was not prepared for the assignment and Mushapaidze and Napster had to whisper something to Tuku before he proceeded to unveil the album in a manner that betrayed an impromptu assignment.
However, as the superstar that he is, Mtukudzi made sure the mishap did not disrupt the flow of the programme.
Other performers on the night
Despite being called to launch the album on the shortest of notices, Mtukudzi put up a great act and fans danced and sang along to his music.
He always has a way of living up to his superstar tag even when he just comes in to support a musician he regards as his son.
Because it was Jah Prayzah’s album launch, Mtukudzi could have just made a cameo appearance and left the stage to the man of the day, but he did his best to instil a spirit of celebration into the audience and spiced the night in a big way.
He did his best and endorsed Jah Prayzah saying: “The young man is doing well. Jah aenda nenyika,” much to the delight of the fans.
Yes, Jah Prayzah’s Gonyeti was not in the house, but another Gonyeti in the form of comedian and Bus Stop TV’s Samantha Kureya brought the house down with her cracking jokes.
The two female artistes incidentally share the same moniker for obvious and also unknown reasons.
Musician, Sam Dondo, proved to be a promising star with his stage workas he left fans screaming for more.
He is slowly getting appreciation from music lovers if the response to his act is anything to by. Willom Tight and his son Garry also gave the crowd a good act. The father-son act is getting stronger on stage and it seems they are still to show fans their best capability as a combination.
Popular faces in the crowd
Apart from various musicians that were not on the line-up, but came to support Jah Prayzah with their presence in the crowd (obviously others came as spies, which is expected in an industry with competition), there were some notable figures from various sectors at the launch.
Several personalities that include Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, former Big Brother Africa housemate Pokello Nare, Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, former CAPS United player Ashley Rambanapasi and former Dynamos and Harare City defender David Kutyauripo, radio and television personality Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa, as well as Dynamos president Kenny Mubaiwa were in attendance. The Herald