By Prince Mushawevato
HARARE- Renowned sungura music producer Bothwell “African” Nyamhondera has vowed to breach his contract with Diamond Studios to “rescue” ailing sungura supremo Alick Macheso.
The celebrated and respected music architect, who produced all but one of Macheso’s albums, said Macheso is more than a business associate to him.
The former Gramma Records producer, who helped Macheso assemble his Orchestra Mberikwazvo outfit in 1998 and create a signature sound, dumped Macheso for greener pastures after the release of Zvinoda Kutendwa in 2010, the sungura singer’s eighth album.
His absence was felt when Macheso released his ninth effort, Kwatakabva Mitunhu, without Nyamhondera, which is largely regarded as a flop.
Nyamhondera added that he understands better the troubles that the embattled sungura maestro is going through and in this regard, he said, he would make sure that he “saves him”, regardless of what his contract permits.
Said Nyamhondera: “Basically my contract does not allow me to work with Macheso. But I don’t see why I cannot help him. I have worked with the sungura musician from the time he started music. In fact, I helped him set up that band (Orchestra Mberikwazvo) when I was still at Gramma Records. I have been there since the time he recorded his first album and I helped him overcome challenges then.
“Nothing, including my contract, is going to stop me from doing business with him. I feel I’m part of that group. Honestly it’s rare to have such relations in this industry.”
Nyamhondera has a five-year contract with Diamond Studios. The contract states that he can work with any other artiste at the studio (Diamond Studios). But he cannot go to a rival studio(s) and record their artiste(s).
The aforesaid stipulations create an impasse between the veteran producer and Diamond Studios.
Macheso is on record saying he would not produce his much-anticipated new album with any of the existing stables. He wants to set up his own stable at Aquatic Complex following the collapse of Last Power.
The project has been stalling owing to financial challenges.
However, according to the jovial but firebrand producer, a compromise needs to be reached for progress’s sake.
“I’m sure Macheso and I can work out something at his stable. There are certain things that are being breached from the contract by the other part. I must do the same so that when we meet and make confessions, we both have things to overlook,” said Nyamhondera with a chuckle.
In an interview last week, Diamond Studios marketing manager John Muroyi confirmed Nyamhondera’s contract allows him to work with any artiste but only at Diamond Studios.
He was, however, evasive on the course of action to be taken should he violate the agreement.
“He (Bothwell) is allowed to produce any artiste that comes to him just as he is currently doing. But the work can only be done at our stable as stated in his contract. He cannot go and produce the artiste(s) at another studio. That will be off the line,” explained Muroyi.
African as music enthusiasts’ call the producer, was Macheso’s producer for a long time before going for a brief stay in the United Kingdom in 2010. He was also one of the founders of the now defunct Last Power Media that was co-owned by Macheso and Laston “GP” Murerwa.
Following Nyamhondera’s departure, Macheso’s work undoubtedly plunged. His last offering, Kwatakabva Mitunhu (Kure Kwekure), received a lukewarm response.
Evidently Macheso does not have confidence to return to the studio. He has been promising a new album for the past two or so years, but nothing has materialised.
Macheso’s camp could not be reached for a comment despite frantic efforts by this publication.
Going forward, Nyamhondera notes there is a lot to be done to improve the quality of music in the country. He said a huge gap exists between the new and old school musicians.
Bluntly, the veteran producer said the new crop of musicians are incomplete; good on sound but pathetic on the microphone.
“The guys are playing good tunes, the guitars, drums and keyboards are okay. Instrumentally you cannot differentiate between the two generations. But it is on the quality of lyrics and vocals that they are beaten hands down by the previous generation. Yesteryear musicians used to sit down and write sense. Songs with depth,” said Nyamhondera.
“Music is a combination of instruments, lyrics and vocals. Take away one element and you have a problem.”
Without doubt Nyamhondera’s expertise and creativity helped brand sungura into a highly marketable musical genre. He is credited for the success of legendary musicians in the mould of Tongai Moyo, System Tazvida, Leonard Dembo, Paul Matavire, Zexie Manatsa and Nicholas Zacharia.
And since his return early last year, he has worked with a number of budding musicians among them Romeo Gasa and Tendai Dembo. Also, the renowned sound engineer is behind Franco Slomo’s latest solo project following the split of Extra Kwazvose.
The album was supposed to have been released last week (Wednesday).
“I need to create a proper working relationship with these guys so that we both know what to expect from each other. It’s now different from the time I was working with the likes of Macheso and System Tazvida. Back then we were at a stage where I could tell those guys what to do and they automatically knew what was required of them,” remarked Nyamhondera.
“. . . the situation is now different. At Gramma, music groups were contracted and we had more control over their work. But due to the prevailing financial challenges, studios are no longer willing to take risks. They prefer most bands to pay for their recording. This makes it difficult to control what they produce.” The Sunday Mail