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Another Tuku book released

By Vasco Chaya

American musician, author and academic Jennifer Kyker has released a book on the life and career of Zimbabwe’s music legend Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi.

Titled Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe, the 290-paged book was part of her doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania which explored issues of audience reception in post-colonial Zimbabwean popular music, with a special focus on Tuku.

Kyker’s book comes barely two years after an explosive and controversial book by Tuku’s former publicist Shepherd Mutamba titled Tuku Backstage.

In the book’s introduction, Kyker — an assistant professor at of ethnomusicology at the Eastman School of Music and the College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering at the University of Rochester — said she was inspired by the complexity of Tuku’s music to do an academic research on one of Zimbabwe’s enduring music icons.

“Mtukudzi’s music, lyrics or even his genre is not as straight forward as other Zimbabwean musicians such as Thomas Mapfumo who pursues mbira and Alick Macheso who sings sungura.

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“Tuku integrates a variety of wide-ranging influences and sounds, from the katekwe drumming of his family’s place of origin in northern-eastern Zimbabwe to the American soul music of artistes such as Otis Redding, and from South African popular genres such as mbaqanga to the distinctive timbral qualities of Zimbabwean mbira-based guitar.

“His music features acoustic and electric guitars, keyboard, and bass alongside indigenous instruments such as the hosho shakers, and more recently the neo-traditional Zimbabwean marimba and nyunga nyunga mbira, and this unique sound made Mtukudzi an internationally-acclaimed artiste,” wrote Kyker.

The American ethnomusicologist lauded the Zimbabwean music superstar’s cooperation throughout the decade she spent researching on the book published by Indiana University Press.

“Mtukudzi was unfailingly enthusiastic and supportive from our initial discussion . . . to the final stages of manuscript preparation.

“He generously accommodated me backstage at shows, on the band’s bus from one gig to another, and at the Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton.

“His willingness to engage in discussions about the complex and sometimes controversial elements of Tuku Music — both musical and social — is yet another example of his commitment to singing hunhu,” she added in the 26 page-long introduction.

The book Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe which is made up of eight chapters: Hwaro/Foundations, Performing the nation’s history, Singing hunhu after Independence, Return to Dande, Neria: Singing the politics of inheritance, Listening as politics, Listening in the wilderness and What shall we do? Daily News