ByTonderai Zvimba and Keith Mlauzi
Nightspots in Bulawayo have had a glut of artistes from outside the city performing, leaving one wondering if this is because those from the city are still on holiday or simply failing to secure gigs.
It has become the norm that after a hectic festive period, artistes take a break during January and start making moves at the beginning of February.
This does not seem to be the case with most of Bulawayo’s artistes as they have not been present at shows that have been held thus far, which is quite worrying.
Between January and February, names such as Jah Signal, Enzo Ishall, Takura and Guspy Warrior have descended onto the city of Bulawayo from Harare to perform at upmarket bars. In all this, people like Cal_Vin, Sandra Ndebele, Mzoe 7, Novuyo Seagirl and Asaph have been missing in action.
Perhaps they are busy in the studios working on material for this year or the music promoters are to blame for not organising shows for Bulawayo artistes.
Novuyo Seagirl who won two awards for her song AEIOU (Star FM and Skyz Metro) said no promoter had approached her.
“I haven’t been booked by anyone from the city to perform. I was asked to perform at a corporate event in Harare after my Star FM performance instead,” said a concerned Novuyo Seagirl.
Award-winning rapper, Asaph whose career is blossoming because of his Mambo hit said there was a “bad blood vibe” between the artistes and local promoters.
“We could be the ones headlining these shows but the promoters we have here do not respect us enough,” said Asaph.
According to Asaph, it is not only respect that is lacking in these circles, but also value of work being put in by the artiste.
“We’ve been working very hard, but these promoters have proven that they do not value our work and don’t think we are good enough for any of their shows,” he added.
Mzoe 7 of the of the Ulimenemene fame said: “I haven’t been promoted by any promoter to perform at the shows that have been held thus far. I’ve, however, been performing at clubs.”
Another award-winning artiste King BL said the promoters were sending a clear message that their works were not good enough.
“These promoters are sending a message that we’re not good enough for them — that’s all. To us this is really insulting,” said King BL.
In response to the artistes concerns, a prominent Bulawayo promoter Terminator Makoni who has been behind most of the shows that have been held thus far said some of the city’s artistes’ pricing was a bit overboard, making it difficult to work with them.
“We really value the work being put in by our artistes, but the problem is they overcharge us for the little work they put. For example, Asaph before the price madness charged us $500 to perform for 20 minutes, of which we had a tight budget. Imagine how much he is charging now,” explained Terminator.
Makoni added that some of the Bulawayo artistes can barely perform for 10 minutes as they still need to perfect their live performances but yet they charge a lot.
“Some of them aren’t even good at live performances as they get stoned while on stage and can’t perform for more than 10 minutes, but then demand $500 from us.”
Cue Movement DJs who hosted Enzo Ishall at The Vista recently said they were in business and as such, consider a lot of factors before booking artistes.
“We’re running a business so we can’t afford to run at a loss. Our local artistes don’t bring the crowds we want,” said one of the DJs, Themba Sibanda.
While the up-and-coming artistes and promoters seem to be blaming each other, the artistes need to understand that no one owes them a slot at their gigs. They need to put in a lot of work in order to start getting notable gigs, not only in Bulawayo, but the rest of the country as well. This work includes the constant release of catchy singles as well as vigorously marketing their works, if they are to capture promoters. Social media has proved to be a very important tool in one’s marketing these days so they must make use of it.
Promoters on their part, must, once in a while, identify the city’s talent whom they can promote. It is only through slots at various shows that artistes can build fan bases so the promoter is very handy in this regard. More events like the Bulawayo Carnival which would have the city’s artistes performing are needed as well. Jam sessions which were run by Club 263 to promote up-and-coming artistes also need to be revived.
Local radio station, Skyz Metro FM also has another huge role to play. While their role of identifying new talent is well appreciated, they should go an extra mile and perhaps have nights where these artistes play at The Vista, a club which is run by the radio station. This will go a long way as the artistes, while building a fan base, can also perfect their live performances.
Cal_Vin, who has already lined up his Unplugged Concert next month needs to be emulated for his consistency in pushing his brand that is now known nationally. Through his hard work, he has gotten slots at a lot of events and earned a collaboration with South Africa’s renowned rapper, Cassper Nyovest.
Hopefully, this year will be different for the city’s artistes. The Chronicle.