Big artistes snub dancehall summit call

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MOST prominent and big names in the Zimdancehall genre snubbed the inaugural Zimdancehall summit, an inconclusive stakeholder’s dialogue that was held last week at Zimbabwe College of Music in Harare.

BY KENNEDY NYAVAYA

The event, a first of its kind for local dancehall chanters, brought together different stakeholders in an effort to deliberate ways of boosting the genre which appears to be taking the downhill route like its predecessor, urban grooves.

In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style on the sidelines of the event, one of the organisers Plot Mhako said despite the no-show of the “big” artistes, the event was a catalyst towards making the movement professional and sustainable.
“In terms of progression I think it (summit) has progressed well although the numbers were not as pleasing as we anticipated. It is still a first and breaking new ground, not only for the followers of the music, but also the artistes,” he said.

“The main goal is to create viability and sustainability by developing an ecosystem that is functional and ensures that all the players involved get value and that the genre (Zimdancehall) does not die as a hype. Right now Zimdancehall is sustained by hype which is dying down and the music might also die, as we have seen with urban grooves and other genres.”

Panelists who engaged the decent crowd in attendance included artistes, arts managers, promoters, and media among others stakeholders in the showbiz.

Veteran musician Jah Bless said the summit was a stepping stone in trying to bring the industry together in terms of business for the genre which has witnessed some chaotic scenes.

“Zimdancehall still has the mettle, but only needs to “reinvent itself” through adopting an attitude of paying attention to the best art rather than to iconising individuals, giving them power to put the sound at ransom,” he said.

“The genre has been rising at an exponential rate and it is still rising. Apart from the need to reinvent itself the other challenge is that the artistes are growing bigger and getting more influential, but maybe the issue is these are same artistes and when people say Zimdancehall is going they are using these same people as yardsticks.”

Another chanter Sniper Storm said Zimdancehall is growing stronger, but just needs established artistes to nurture the upcoming artistes on how to manage the movement.

“We need to get back to the movement, but I think there can be one or two seniors in the business to show the upcoming ones the way to continue with movement. Zimdancehall is far from dying and actually growing,” he said.

From the summit there was general emphasis on the setting up of a Zimdancehall union and professionalising artistes’ work.

Zimdancehall is a localised version of Jamaica’s dancehall music genre which started picking momentum almost a decade ago with emerging pioneers including Winky D, Sniper Storm, Soul Jah Love and Killer T, among many others.