By Godwin Muzari
The debate on the connection between music promotion and entrepreneurship has been tabled at various forums and discussions on the matter remain inconclusive.
There are passionate music promoters and there are business people seeking income through hosting music shows.
The catch word in most such debates is “promoter” which literally means someone who finances or sponsors an event. The sponsorship is directed more at pushing a cause than making profit.
However, it has become a trend in most countries that music promoters are primarily profit-oriented. The trend has often been regarded as unfair for upcoming and less-known artistes that actually need promotion.
There are several promoters known for fortune-hunting while others are passionate sponsors of the art. The passionate ones are few, but they are real promoters.
One such passionate promoter is Spencer Madziya who has been involved in various projects targeting youthful musicians.
He has assisted a number of musicians in the urban grooves sector and Zimdancehall terrain. Popularly known as Boss Spencer, Madziya has become an inspiration to many young musicians.
This week Madziya went down memory lane, revisiting projects that he did to assist young musicians. He had a passion to keep the urban grooves genre alive.
“From the days of Mereki Splash we held shows with the aim of keeping the urban grooves movement flag flying. We had the likes of Trevor D, Nox, Mzimba and Taurai Mandebvu, among others. These were afternoon gigs that became popular,” Madziya recalled.
“We also had a slot on Thursdays at The Beer Engine, which was strictly dedicated to urban grooves and this was under the coordination of my personal friend and a producer of most urban music, Russo.
“The nights grew and became a favourite outing for many who still relished the early 2000 classics and new urban music offerings. Pioneers of the genre graced these nights. Mafriq had a brief reunion during those days.
“My big brother and one of the biggest promoters Chipaz also gave me a Sunday slot to do afternoon urban grooves shows at his spot, Dandaro Inn. These also fast became ultimate afternoon sessions that kept the genre going.
“Sphinx Night spot, which I ran, revived the Thursday urban groove nights. I also ran The Volt and we gave artistes a platform for shows, album launches and other events to market themselves.
“I have worked with various musicians mainly in the urban grooves, Zimdancehall and hip hop genres. Popular names are Nox Guni, Trevor Dongo, Stunner, Noble, Trae, Alexio, Roki, Mafriq, Tererai, Maskiri, Sniper Storm, Shinsoman and Seh Calaz”
Madziya believes that urban grooves music has evolved and people should not take it as a genre that faces extinction.
“It is often said that urban grooves is no more or faces demise. I beg to differ. It has just evolved. By the time Zimdancehall movement became strong, urban grooves had long started adding a bit of dancehall flavour to its music.
“However, the fast rise of Zimdancehall eclipsed the original feel of urban grooves as studios mushroomed from backyards giving the dancehall easy and cheaper recording facilities. Urban grooves still lives and singers like Trevor D, Goodchild, Ngoni and Nox are still making hits. Others like Alexio, Diana Samkange and Pauline have fused the beat with contemporary sounds.”
He encouraged urban grooves musicians to utilise collaborations with singers from other genres, digital interface and professional management to take their genre to another level.
Madziya worked with a number of other musicians beyond the urban grooves movement at The Volt where artistes from mainstream genres staged shows. He also promoted a mbira revival movement in The Volt garden where upcoming mbira musicians had a chance to share the stage with established groups.
Currently, he runs a joint at Motor Action Sports Club where artistes hang out and network. It has also become a platform for performances from hip-hop, urban grooves and dancehall singers.
“Motor Action has given an opportunity for artistes to interact mostly with their fans and more importantly with promoters and other club owners as it brings people from diverse background under one roof. As club owners and promoters, we get to meet and share notes too. have shared notes with the likes of Mahwindo (Wanisai Mutandwa) and Boss Werras (Samuel Saungweme) who are promoters interested in helping young musicians connect with established stars. That is how the arts industry benefits and grows.
“I learnt a lot from networking with established artistes like Oliver Mtukudzi and Alick Macheso and we always encourage the young musicians to get lessons from their elders in the industry.
“As a youthful character myself, it was easy to click with most of the youthful artistes in the game as their challenges and aspirations relatively are the same.”
He said the Zimdancehall wave will continue to churn out talented youngsters and more hits.
“I believe that we will have Zimdancehall for a long time to come. Leading stars like Winky D, Seh Calaz, Killer T and Freeman continue dropping gems and keeping the torch alight for younger artistes in the mould of Enzo Ishall and Jah Signal, among others. Professional studios have embraced the genre.”
Madziya’s love for music and artistes began when he was young.
“My father was an ardent music follower and a choirmaster of note. My uncle, the late Sam “Banana” Gwanzura of 2Plus2 band used to take me to family shows they held The Kentucky back then and as a youngster, my passion grew from there.”
Although he never got involved in performances, Boss Spencer joked about a night when he discovered a talent in dance.
“We had one night with Alexio and Sulu on stage and I was called for an impromptu dance. Because of seeing them perform many times, the choreography was easy. We did all the Sulu and dendera moves with Alexio. I didn’t know I was such a dancer. Herald.