By Godwin Muzari
Andy Muridzo does not deny that he is Jah Prayzah’s copycat. In fact, he gives the example of how Tongai Moyo became successful despite setting off in Leonard Dembo’s footsteps to justify his position.
After all, he does not need any justification because he is just doing what Jah Prayzah taught him. He was groomed; he is following his mentor’s footsteps and does not apologise for having a similar beat.
Muridzo takes pride in assisting his brother in putting Uzumba on the music map. Both musicians grew up in Uzumba. They both attended Mushanhi Secondary School and Jah Prayzah’s music teacher Mupa Musimbe was also the one who noticed talent in the “Dherira” singer and came up with the name Andy Muridzo.
The young musician’s real name is Andrew Ngwenya, but Musimbe jokingly named him Muridzo (whistle) because the singer would express his excitement through whistling at school gatherings.
On his song “Tungamira Tiende”, Muridzo actually salutes Jah Prayzah and boasts that they will both go far and they will remain united as brothers. He sings about how a combination between a soldier (Jah Prayzah) and officer (Muridzo) is unbeatable.
However, now that his mentor has shifted from his original beat in an attempt to appeal to a different audience, Muridzo finds himself automatically falling into the gap that Jah Prayzah is apparently creating.
While Jah Prayzah’s latest album “Mudhara Vachauya” limits the musician’s trademark traditional beat, Muridzo’s second album “Ngarizhambe” maintains the mbira feel that made his mentor popular.
And Muridzo is gaining ground because Jah Prayzah’s album has been received with mixed feelings. His fans that enjoyed traditional music seem to have found solace in Muridzo’s music that is spiced with mbira vibes.
Although Muridzo’s album was launched in March, it did not attract attention immediately because music fans were still looking up to Jah Prayzah for the unique contemporary music style that he originated.
As it turned out that Jah Prayzah has other plans with his music, Muridzo’s songs are fast gaining popularity and the album “Ngarizhambe” is gradually stealing the hearts of music followers with songs like “Haungatikoromotse”, “Dherira”, “Chidhafu Dhunda” and “Handirambe” making an impact.
He might still be far from Jah Prayzah in terms of attracting crowds at live shows, but Muridzo has caused a stir on the local showbiz scene.
However, the young man remains humble and still salutes his brother in the industry. He concurs that his elder has shifted from his original beat, but says he is not competing with him. He is merely complementing him and doing what he was taught.
Yet this could be a golden opportunity for Muridzo to make a mark as he is still in the circle that surrounded Jah Prayzah before “Mudhara Vachauya”. In an interview on the sidelines of his show at Club Manucho at Malvern Shops in Waterfalls on Saturday, Muridzo said he sees a bright future ahead.
He also emphasised that he owes everything that he has so far to Jah Prayzah who took him from the plains of Uzumba to Harare and taught him how to tread the music path.
He showed this writer his recent WhatsApp chats with Jah Prayzah in which they agreed that people are trying to make them fight and pledge they will forever be brothers. But it is a fact that they are indeed in direct competition and Muridzo might win the battle if Jah Prayzah does not retrace his steps.
“My music is gaining ground and I am happy people are receiving it well. However, let me be quick to mention that I am not competing with Jah Prayzah.
“He is my brother and I owe everything to him. I respect his decision to target an international market. It is unfortunate that local music followers do not easily accept such changes and that is why his album has been received with mixed feelings,” said Muridzo.
“I will continue doing what he taught me and I will respect him forever because he has done a lot for me. He paid all studio expenses for my first album and I always consult him when I am doing my work.
“People call me a copycat, but I am not ashamed because I have always admired Jah Prayzah and he has had a hand in my music career so it is not a coincidence that our beats are similar.”
Muridzo said when Jah Prayzah left Uzumba to pursue a music career in Harare, he followed his recordings and whenever they met in the village, he would express his interest in music.
After recording “Tsviriyo” and recording enormous success, Jah Prayzah brought Muridzo to Harare and they would go to shows together until the young man eventually recorded his first album “Pakubuda Kwezuva” last year.
Muridzo began doing his own shows and came under criticism as he was labelled Jah Prayzah’s copycat. The tag did not deter Muridzo. To show his enthusiasm, he came up with “Ngarizhambe” that has 15-tracks and could have been separated into two albums.
Muridzo learnt how to play mbira when he was still young and he maintains the traditional beat throughout the album, making it an alternative to “Mudhara Vachauya”.
His stage performance is improving and his music is spreading fast. Muridzo could be the next big thing in contemporary music. The Herald