Oliver Mtukudzi and The Black Spirits
Tue, Jan 28-Wed, Jan 29Doors open at 5:30 PM each night.
First sets begin at 7:30 PM, and second sets (when applicable) begin at 9:30 PM (doors: 9:15 PM).
Pacific Jazz Institute at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley presents Afropop Hall of Fame inductee, Zimbabwean singer and musician Oliver Mtukudzi touring with The Black Spirits in support of his newest release, Sarawoga. Band members are Oliver Mtukudzi (main vocals/acoustic guitar), Tendai Samson Mataure (drums), Enock Piroro (backing vocals/bass), Alice Muringayi (backing vocals), and TBA. Set times on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30pm. Doors open at 5:30pm.
Dedicated to Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi’s late son, Sam Mtukudzi, who passed away in 2012, the album Sarawoga (U.S. release: May 21, 2013), starts off with a haunting acapella track entitled “Sarawoga,” which means “Left Alone.” The next couple of tracks are reminders that time is not ours to waste and serve as an ode to a young life tragically taken away. With over five dozen albums to his name, the venerable artist proves with Sarawoga that he still has plenty to say. With a career that spans the advent of both Afropop and the global love affair with African roots music, Tuku’s quicksilver guitar work, keen ear for melody, and evocative voice have earned him intense adulation at home. His organic, savvy mix of traditional ways, pan-African influences, and cosmopolitan pop forms became widely known as Tuku Music. It has made Tuku a household name across Southern Africa, as well as across Europe and North America, thanks in part to major releases of his work in the 1990s and 2000s.
In the period leading to Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence, Oliver’s music was a mix of the revolutionary jam songs with undertones targeting the repressive Rhodesian regime. Yet he also composed the day-to-day social context music about life and the essence of ubantu (humanity). “Before independence, it was the fight against the Rhodesian regime. My music then spoke against oppression and the repressive regime and how we were suffering at the hands of the regime. I left school and for three years I couldn’t find a job, yet I was one of the few guys among my peers with a fine secondary education. But I couldn’t get a job because I was black. My music then helped people identify themselves…who we were and what we wanted to be.”
In all his music in pre-independence, Oliver never took on the Rhodesian regime head-on, preferring the power of metaphor to communicate meaning. “I wasn’t afraid of anyone. The beauty of the Shona language [the majority vernacular language in Zimbabwe] is that it is endowed with all those rich idioms and metaphor… and the beauty of art is that you can use the power of language to craft particular meaning without necessarily giving it away. So, I used the beauty of Shona to communicate in my own way and people got the message. To this day, Oliver incorporates the aspect of self-discipline and tolerance in his repertoires. He is emotional about the socio-cultural norms and principles that govern the Shona traditional way of life, particularly the respect for the next person.
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