By Maxwell Sibanda
One of Zimbabwe’s most prolific urban contemporary singers Cindy Munyavi believes she is a ‘hopeless romantic’; a factor she firmly believes shapes her music songs.
While her songs ooze with romance, she says as a good listener most of the experiences she shares circle around her friends and family. In her 14-year-old artistic career, the diva that also doubles as a businesswoman, has won an amazing 13 awards; accolades that came from the music and business sectors.
She has performed with international music stars that include Beenie Man, Akon, Sean Paul and TOK while locally she has recorded duet songs with singers Nox Guni, Roki, Jnr Brown and Mudiwa Hood.
On the African continent Cindy has collaborated with 2face Idibia, Bongani Fassie and Ishmael among others.
As she grew up, Cindy had things she dreamt of; she wanted to earn an educational degree, become a chief executive officer (CEO) one day and get married.
The Daily News on Sunday’s Assistant Editor Maxwell Sibanda spoke to the songstress who shared her dreams and success thus far since her birth at Highfield Maternity Clinic in Harare on November 24, 1984.
Q: Who is Cindy?
A: Cindy is a very resourceful young Zimbabwean lady, primarily an urban contemporary musician who has also ventured into other business platforms. I have used my music and the popularity I have amassed to venture into other businesses. I own Cindy’s Fashion Corner, a boutique which specialises in women’s accessories and have since ventured into the make-up industry.
Q: How many albums have you released?
A: I have three albums to my name; “Kukuda/Loving you” (2006), “The groove theory” (2010) and “Music Vocal Cindy” (2017). My fourth album is titled “No one Is Safe” and it will be released anytime next year although I have already released a single off it called “Wabata Moyo” which features Andy Muridzo. The song is proving very popular especially this wedding season — we have done a video of the song and it will be released soon.
Q: Which label are you signed to?
A: My local record label is Bryce Nation and it is now signed to Ivy League, a US record company. So Ivy League is responsible for my music distribution online, plugging it in 200 online music stores, YouTube and they are also responsible for my international publicity. Next year in the quarter I will be travelling to US to pursue activities they have lined up for me and like I alluded to in the title of my new album, “No one is safe”. I am not threatening anyone, in a way it is prophetic and people will see where it will leave me and the plans around it.
Q: How are you launching the new album?
A: I will have directions from the US record label because they believe in releasing albums as singles unlike releasing it once as a full body of work. It is more profitable to sell music as singles and I believe in their formula.
I pushed certain singles like “Set Up Pace” which we sold online via Oils Music and managed above 3 000 copies. The single was also endorsed by Power FM it also got a lucrative endorsement from GTEL.
Q: Are musicians in Zimbabwe surviving on music?
A: Music is not taken seriously in Zimbabwe, it is not treated commercially. Here we are playing a fame game, one gets popular but we do not see any tangible returns — nothing to show of it.
My US record label believes that my music is my mainstay and it should propel me to great dizzy heights.
Q: What were some of your career highlights in 2018?
A: The biggest thing that happened was the deal endorsement with Vidah Chemicals, I am now their face. The company specialises in beauty products; hair foods, body lotions, hair growers, hair dryers, shaving creams. I am happy to be their ambassador and it is easy for me to represent them because all my adult life I have been using their products. I had others endorsements from Gtel and clinched corporate activations for Unilever and Kellies Chicken with whom we collaborated with USAid.
I think corporates engage me because my brand is consistent, corporates have not known surprises from me because I manage their brands very well the same like what I do for my own brand. I have been a good custodian of brands
Q: Do you dress celebrities?
A: Yes, I have been styling celebrities and this has helped my business blossom and creates awareness as they mention me wherever they are. I have styled politicians, radio DJs and bloggers. My make up business has found traction from corporates and I have trained makeup artists in beauty pharmacies, in Edgars. The October issue Club magazine that’s my work from the cover to the inside.
Q: When do we expect your new album?
A: The project is recorded and ready but I signed to an international label and they do things is differently. For the past decade I have been doing the same things with fewer returns, so I want to give them a chance to see how we can penetrate different markets. This time I will follow their plans, so they will announce when the album will be out.
Q: How many awards have you won in your 14-year career?
A: I have won 13 awards, musical and business. I have had 21 nominations and the biggest award in my music career is the 2014 Afrima, when I won the Best Female Artiste in southern Africa.
No Zimbabwean has ever won it although Jah and Ammara among others have been nominated. Among the treasured awards is the ZNCC award in the Arts and Culture category. It was flattering that a business institution could award an artist.
And four times I have won the Young Business Woman of the Year at Zimbabwe Business Awards. The Zimbabwe National Awards also named among the top 100 most influential women in fashion.
Q: Your fashion shop, do you do your own designs?
A: We import, design because we have custom made designs for specific clients. I also house young local designers as a corporate social responsibility and have since engaged several successful young local designers and given them platform to showcase in my shop. These include Ngugi Vhere, Tracy Ndlovu, Tapfumaneyi Munengeri and Ngoni Motsi.
Q: We recently had 16 Days of Activism, what is your word around this?
A: I would like to say that regardless of how far you are pushed, domestic violence is not an option, beating someone up or violating someone emotionally, find means and ways to communicate our displeasure. We have suicide cases and cases of depression on the rise because of this and abuses are contributing to people killing themselves. Physical and verbal abuse should never be used to address issues.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I like to go and watch movies and because I do not have much free time it is always a pleasure to be with friends and family. I also pursue other social engagements which my social life entails. I get to travel a lot because of work, hence enjoy the benefits that come with my work.
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born in Harare at Highfield Maternity Clinic on 24 November 1984. I grew up there and at eight years moved to Botswana, stayed for two years and the stayed in Gweru for another two years before finally coming to Harare. My dad was always on the move because of work. We are three in our family, my brother three years younger, sister is 10 years old.
While my brother is a gifted songwriter, he prefers to be a marketer and works for Econet. My young sister is a mini-me, she loves designing for her dolls and I see a lot of her in me.
\My mother works for Air Zimbabwe in the accounts department while my father is a lecturer at Trust Academy where he teaches Midlands State University students.
Q: When you were growing up, did you ever imagine being a musician?
A: I was lazy but I would think that being a musician was more apparent to other people than me. I sang in the school choir but my dream was to get a degree, rise to become CEO, get married and have kids. I have managed the first two but I am still single and still like to get married and have children maybe two or three.
Q: Do you have a lover in your life?
A: Yes I have someone in my life and if there is anything formal, I will introduce him to the world. I owe the world although I am a private person.
Q: What would you say to the girl out there?
A: Growing up our mothers never used to drive cars, so I encourage the girl-child to pursue her dreams. The days when the girl child was underprivileged is gone, we fought for equal rights. And equal rights do not mean that we want to become men, no, we are talking of equal opportunities. Today, we have charged up women out there; bus drivers, engineers, CEOs and presidents. So I say girl go for gold!
Q: Who have you collaborated with on your songs?
A: I have collaborated with Roki on the song ‘Ndini Ndinaye’, Andy Muridzo on ‘Wabata Moyo’ and did several duets with Nox, Trevor Dongo and singers from Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda. And now that we are now US-based ‘no one is safe’.
Q: You seem to have scaled down on local showcases, why is it?
A: I am now working on private performances because they pay better; my management is financially alert because shows where you charge fans are tedious. We are no longer taking any risks; we have to do profitable ventures.
Q: Who dresses you?
A: I dress myself most times to publicise and represent my brand although I have allowed others to dress me. Designers like Cynthia Bizure, Tapfumanei Munenge and Ngoni Motsi dress me as well although they are from different fashion houses.
Q: What is your last word?
A: I would like to say thank you to Zimbabweans at large, it is not easy to do the same thing for more than a decade and receive support continuously. I promise to keep you happy and entertained. As for my customers at the shop I say times are tough but you have been there for us. Daily News.