By Godwin Muzari
Model and musician Vanessa Sibanda is a lady of style. She is known in the showbiz circle as Queen Vee and has an advantage of doing her music with talented producers in the region. Her base in South Africa exposes her to vital connections with the international music industry.
And one thing that will always be part of her identity in music is that she never goes on stage without gloves.
She vows, at least for now, that the gloves will be part of her identity. Artistes choose various styles for showbiz identity. Hairstyles, outfits and tattoos are common in this list.
When she went down memory lane about her two careers in showbiz, Queen Vee said the ‘gloves style’ was inspired by Michael Jackson who is one of her role models.
She loved him as she was growing up, and when opportunities for music opened up, Queen Vee wanted something to show her source of inspiration and chose the gloves.
“Michael Jackson played a huge role in inspiring me to become a musician. The fact that I’m always rocking gloves when performing is because he inspired me to have that little something (a signature style ), that makes people say Queen Vee will never perform without her gloves,” she said.
“Michael Jackson was a phenomenon. He gave us the most dazzling choreography the world had ever seen. Everything about him from how dressed and danced screamed ‘Superstar!!’.
“I also got into music because of my love for showbiz. It’s all I ever wanted to be as I was growing up. I started writing songs from an early age of nine, but unfortunately because of modelling I never had enough time to focus on the music.”
Queen Vee showed the Jackson inspiration during her performance at Zimbabwe Music Awards ceremony early this year.
Inevitably, she had the gloves on but she did more. Her choreography was outstanding and her dancers were amazing.
She nailed it when she did the song “Mari Mari” that features Soul Jah Love.
Queen Vee takes the ZIMA performance as one of her exciting moments because she rarely performs on stages in her home country.
“I rarely have chances to perform back home. I was excited when I performed ‘Mari Mari’. What made it more exciting was the fact that more than six million people were watching the performance via various platforms.”
“Mari Mari” is her latest single that is making a mark in showbiz. A video for the song was done recently in South Africa and snippets of the production that have been making rounds on social media indicate it could be an exciting video. She no longer participates in pageants, but still doing modelling at a commercial level and has her own exciting memories about her career on the ramp.
The most exciting moment for the former Miss Zimbabwe (then Miss Tourism Zimbabwe) came in 2011.
“My best moment was when I was crowned second runner-up at the Top Model of the World in Germany, 2011 because I was the first Zimbabwean to make it to the top three.
“I felt like I was on top of the world. I spent a whole week thinking I was still dreaming. There was a moment I couldn’t believe I had just realised one of my childhood dreams of wanting to become Miss Zimbabwe and making it on the international scene made me look at life from a different perspective.
“I started believing in myself more and from then I believe there is nothing in this world I can’t achieve if I just put my focus, work hard and let God guide through it.”
Queen Vee’s modelling journey started at a tender age when she was crowned Miss Kadoma Primary School when she was in grade four. That was in 1997.
Other crowns as a junior model were Miss Queen Elizabeth (2003) and Miss Harare Junior (2006).
Winning Miss Harare Junior propelled her to try her luck at a bigger ramp and in 2007 she finished in the top 10 at Miss Tourism Zimbabwe.
Her rebound participation in 2008 saw her winning the crown and representing the country at Miss World where she made it to the top 15. Her second international attempt resulted in the Top Model of the World second princess achievement which is her biggest on the ramp.
She did not do much commercially during her reign as Miss Tourism Zimbabwe and left for South Africa just after handing over her Miss Tourism Zimbabwe crown to the next queen.
“I left Zimbabwe for SA soon after relinquishing my title as I had signed by G3 Modelling Agency.
“The modelling industry in SA is bigger than our Zimbabwean one. The remuneration packages are way better in SA for models compared to what models get paid back at home. But I guess you can’t blame the Zimbabwean modelling industry. Our economy is still not strong enough to pay that much.”
Since she relocated to SA, Queen Vee has signed various contracts and featured at many prestigious shows.
“I did a lot of high fashion modelling at platforms like SA Fashion Week, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and Africa Fashion Week among others. I did campaigns for companies in Sri Lanka, Germany and London as well as for David Tlale, GJC, House of Ole and JJ Schoemen just to mention a few.”
Despite all these achievements, the 26-year-old artist says music is now her main focus and she is working for the success of her career as a singer.
She relishes how she worked with Soul Jah Love on “Mari Mari”.
“I find him (Soul Jah Love) to be extremely talented and he is natural.
“We listened to the ‘Mari Mari’ beat for the first time together and we both loved it. What made it an amazing experience is that when we heard the beat we decided to record the vocals that very same day and in six hours we had wrapped up and finished recording our vocals and doing the arrangement of the song. What was just left was the mixing and mastering of the song.”
Queen Vee said they did the video recently and it was a high budget production done by Studio Space.
“We are dropping the video on Channel O before putting up the YouTube link.”
She also saluted artistes Buffalo Souljah and Waxxy that have worked closely with her and helped her make contacts in the SA showbiz industry.
“They both contributed to the success of my career .I have learnt a lot from them. They are both so hard-working and disciplined and value their craft and brands, which is something I have adopted when handling my brand.
“Every song I have released to date has made me grow as an artiste.
“All my collaborations with artistes like Da Les, L-Tido, Ziyon, Solid Star and Buffalo Souljah have taught me different things about the art of creating music.
“It has seen me getting better with every production. I thank God that all my music videos have gotten their fair share of airplay on Trace, Channel O and Mtv Base.”
Queen Vee has seen a lot in the modelling industry, where she holds many titles and hopes to make another big mark in music. The Herald