Matamba refuses to give up…as he releases 13th studio album

Leisure Reporter
\nLIKE today’s Zim dancehall phenomenon, there was once a time when every aspiring young musician in Zimbabwe wanted to be a sungura artiste. To sing on that fast beat, standing in front of massive crowds with several dancers and wow the multitudes with lyrics, dances and tight beats. From the white owned farms where they worked as labourers to emerging high density suburbs in most towns and cities, sungura musicians sprouted.

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Others like System Tazvida, Alick Macheso and Leonard Dembo made it in the music industry and became big brands whose music has immortalised them.

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Others died trying but never broke into the mainstream. But a good number like First Farai, Somandla Ndebele, Simon Mutambi and Obvious Mutanhi, among many others, have just done enough to be visible and stay afloat, sometimes playing very good music but lacking the luck or maybe that extra push or charisma to endear themselves to the people.

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One such unlucky guy is Levers Matamba, a 45-year-old father of two with over ten albums under his belt.
\nAt one point Matamba almost became big with songs that made to the then Radio 3’s Hitsville programme, a rarity back then. Songs like “Hazvina Mhosva”, “Mbimbindoga” and “Samere Samere”, were big hits on radio and even saw the artiste packing music fans into several halls around the country.

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Matamba even had a former Bhundu Boys band member, Kenny Chitsvatsva on his payroll for a number of projects and shows. Kenny, a talented drummer was part of the trailblazing Bhundu Boys band that had Europeans eating out of their hands at the peak of their influence.
\nHe is now permanently based in the UK after Matamba and the Zimbabwean music in general proved a tough place to earn a living.

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But Matamba has refused to give up. This week he releases his 13th studio album, which he recorded at Diamond Studios with the help of veteran music producer Bothwell Nyamhondera.

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The album, “Zivo”, is a six-track effort laden with top quality beats and a powerful social message. It opens with the track “Chikurubi”, a song about a man who did not earn his living through straightforward ways, preferring instead to cheat and steal his way through life.

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With a Marshal Munhumumwe-inspired beat, the song has the crooked character wailing upon being sent to prison as he starts to wonder if he will make it or if his young wife will wait until he returns from prison.

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Matamba, a self-confessed Munhumumwe disciple says it was not his choice to sing sungura.
\n“It was the studios that prescribed sungura for me. I would have preferred to sing like Marshal, but when I got into music Zimbabweans were crazy about sungura and so the producers thought it would be better for me if I tried my hand in sungura,” said Matamba.

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The rest of the album consists of “Raramo”, a song with a Kwasa Kwasa feel but heavily borrowing from Zhakata’s Zora beat. He however, maintains sungura’s rhythm and bass guitars.

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“Vana Vedu” is another track and it carries a Kanindo feel while “Wakanaka Sei” starts like a jazz song slowly picking up tempo until it becomes an incredibly danceable fast paced sungura song.

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Matamba proves his mettle on the song “Wakamudirei|”, a sungura love song and concludes this promising effort with “Shinga Murudo”, whose lyrics and vocalisation is certainly going to evoke memories of the late great System Tazvida.