By Arts Correspondent
Most television viewers across the world will remember her for her recurring role alongside Hollywood A-lister Charlie Sheen on the popular American sitcom Two And a Half Men.
But Tinashe Kachingwe is the next big thing waiting to explode on the US and global music scene. Although her debut album isn’t even out yet, her sultry and rhythmic offerings have drawn her comparisons to the reigning queen of R&B, Mrs Shawn Carter, a.ka. Beyonce.
And in barely three weeks’ time, London music fans will get to preview the multi-talented Tinashe live on stage when she headlines this year’s Zimbabwe Achievers Awards (ZAA) ceremony at the Millenium Gloucester Hotel in London on April 20.
A native of Kentucky, Tinashe is of Zimbabwean and Irish/Norwegian/Danish ancestry and moved to Los Angeles on the west coast when she was eight. Despite being born and raised in the US, she speaks the Zimbabwean language Shona fluently.
Tinashe first grabbed the attention of US music fans as lead singer of the five-member girl group The Stunners. The girls toured with Justin Bieber on his ‘My World’ tour and also performed live on The Today Show and The Wendy Williams show.
They were in line to release their debut album with Universal Republic Records before the project was shelved after the group disbanded in 2011. But while the curtains were being drawn on The Stunners era, Tinashe’s solo career was just taking off.
With her eclectic musical style that she describes as a mixture of “urban, rhythmic and pop”, peppered with influences from indie, alternative, and hip hop, Tinashe released two critically acclaimed mixtapes in 2012. Her debut, titled ‘In Case We Die’, dropped in February last year and spawned four singles, including the track ‘This Feeling’.
The mixtape served as an introduction to Tinashe’s solo work; she spent eighteen straight days working on it, doing all the writing, production and recording in the confines of her bedroom.
She explains: “I was very inspired by the thought of a lover’s last words before death – baring their soul and their secrets before it was too late…and trying to capture that half-fear we all secretly have that the inevitable is sooner than we are ready for.”
In July of 2012, Tinashe signed her first solo major label recording contract with RCA/Sony Music. Then on September 6, she released her second critically acclaimed mixtape, “Reverie”. The Mixtape released three singles: “Stargazing”, “Ecstasy” and the final single from the mixtape, “Who Am I Working For?”
Oozing sex appeal and yet exuding class and elegance, the dancer, singer and songwriter is currently putting the final touches to her debut solo album, set to be released any time this year.
On April 20, Tinashe will lead a stellar cast of performers at this year’s edition of the ZAA ceremony, the Zimbabwean community in the UK’s premier red carpet event to honour the outstanding achievements of its members across all walks of life.
A self-confessed shoe fanatic and lover of scary movies, the dainty singer is full of surprising personal quirks. For instance, she became a Taekwondo black belt at the tender age of 11 and has actually won a gold medal in competition in her home state of Califonia!
“My parents decided to sign me up for Taekwondo when I was younger. After a year or so, I wasn’t that into it anymore, but they were always the kind of people who encouraged me to stick with things, so they made me continue until I got a black belt,” she said in a recent interview.
“I’ve never been in a real physical confrontation, which I guess is a good thing. But I don’t know, I’m saving up my skills for when someone really pisses me off!” she laughed. Well, don’t say you weren’t warned!
Her debut studio album will feature the contributions of Grammy Award winning producers around the world. Although her camp has not confirmed the exact line-up, names that have been associated with the project include Clams Casino, Ryan Hemsworth, T-Minus, Boi-1da, Fisticuffs, Best Kept Secret and Ritz Reynolds.
On the experience of moving from doing her own thing to working with a major record label, she said: “It’s been a great transition into the major label situation. They’ve created a lot of opportunities for me and set me up with a lot of dope producers.
It’s also difficult to go from being completely on your own and creating music by yourself to giving up the reigns a little bit and letting other people collaborate with you. But it’s a fun creative process to be able to work with people.”
With a legion of devoted fans on social media helping to make her one of the most followed new artists in the US, the anticipation for her album is skyrocketing.
She has almost 300,000 active Twitter followers, making her a Top 100 most followed person in both Los Angeles and New York. Her YouTube account is approaching 10 million views, while her mixtapes have been downloaded well over one million times combined.