Zimbabwean Music – Oliver Mtukudzi
We have our own style of music here in Zimbabwe, and yet our own style differs in so many ways. We’ll look into all genres of music and the artists who are most recognizable in each genre. Chimurenga stars, Jiti, Rhumba, and Sungura stars. Gospel is also a genre music that we will mention and talk about the artists like Mr. and Mrs. Charamba, Mechanic Manyeruke etc.
Pioneered by Thomas Mapfumo, chimurenga was was the popular music of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. the music, which finds its roots from Shona tradition, relies heavily on the mbira for inspiration. Rhythms and melodies from the traditional mbira are transcribed for guitar and are usually mixed with a political or moral message. Mbira is present in many songs as well. Somewhat danceable, Chimurenga sometimes has a trance-inducing quality to it.
Sometimes known as the Harare beat, jiti is the highly danceable music Zimbabwe is best known for. This genre of music gained international exposure during the 1980s through the Bhundu boys and The Four Brothers, and is fast characterized fast guitar riffs and rapid-fire drumming. A true melting pot, the popular sound is influenced by Tanzanian guitar, said to be brought back by retuning soldiers, the bass of Congolese rhumba, and the mbira-guitar of chimurenga.
Rhumbira, as it affectionally known by Afropop enthusiasts, finds its roots in the Congo. As Congolese bands based their efforts in Harare in the 70s and 80s, their heavy bass and infectious and intricate guitar licks eventually found their way into Zimbabwean music. As with most foreign music, the genre was “Zimbabweanized” as shona lyrics and mbira-rhythms (hence Rhumbira) were added to complete the highly danceable sound. Rhumba hits its heyday in the 1980s, and although it’s popularity is in decline it remains a powerful force in the Zimbabwean music both at home and abroad.
An off shoot of Zimbabwean Rhumba and jit, sungura is extremely popular genre in Zimbabwe. Still heavily guitar-based, songs generally feature a reggae feel, as well as more prominent vocal lines as the rapid-fire guitar of other styles takes a backseat. The genre hit its peak in the mid 1990s and is still going strong today despite the prominent rise of R&B in Africa.
Styles of gospel music described on this website will vary. We are focusing on an type of artist who has me a household name from gospel. Zimbabwe is mainly a christianity nation, with 60 to 70 percent reported to be christians. We will look at the gospel musicians whose songs have made a great impact in our lives.