By Michael Magoronga
Zivanai Masango, a music instructor, producer, vocalist and all-round instrumentalist who has played with the likes of Jackie Madondo, Ivy Kombo and Vuyo Mokoena, says music runs in his veins.
After being raised in a musical family, Zivanai started his musical career while at ZRPs Tomlinson Primary school in Harare. His father and brothers were members of the Police band while his uncle, Davis Masango was the first black director of music for the band.
Zivanai said he and his cousin Spencer took advantage of the many music instruments at home to experiment not knowing they would grow to become some of the best instrumentalists in the country.
After primary Zivanai proceeded to Mazowe High School and Prince Edward where he was a member of the orchestra and Marimba Band at both schools.
In 1998, Zivanai joined the EGEA Gospel Train where he played guitars, drums and keyboards among other instruments for artistes who included Jackie Madondo, Ivy Kombo, Carol Chiwenga, Vuyo Mokoena and Thembinkosi.
The following year he joined Thomas Mapfumo’s The Blacks Unlimited band in the UK where he played almost every instrument.
Zivanai later decided to return to Zimbabwe to build a recording studio, Oneleft Sound from which he produced artistes such as Victor Kunonga and Pastor Haisa. The same studio was instrumental in discovering and nurturing Fungisai Zvakavapano and also recording for Elias Musakwa among others.
From 2012 to 2015, Zivanai worked with Oliver Mtukudzi and his Black Spirits outfit when they toured Europe.
Given such a long and rich history and his contribution to the music industry, Zivanai is sadly, almost unknown in the Zimbabwean music arena. This is despite the role he has played in shaping the music scene and nurturing talent.
However, his latest exploits have left music lovers wanting to know more about the artiste who is now based in Colorado, United States of America.
He has set up a home studio there which he is using to remake old school classic hits and giving them a new lease of life. Not that the classics have an expiry date, but the new flare and present-day mixing equipment is giving the music a new lease of life.
Using social media platforms, Zivanai posted some of the songs he has reworked such as Simon Chimbetu’s Magobo, Handirambi by Paul Matavire, Madzongonyedze by Oliver Mtukudzi, Gwindingwi by Thomas Mapfumo and Cecilia by John Chibadura.
Speaking from his USA base, Zivanai said lack of shows owing to the Covid-19 lockdown drove him into this project.
“After lockdown measures were imposed to fight Covid-19 in the US, I found myself without shows and with a lot of time. I also knew that a lot of people would be home with a lot of time, thus a need for entertainment.
“I then decided to do some videos where I would record myself playing classic Zimbabwean songs live on camera,” said Masango.
He said after releasing Gwindingwi by Mukanya, the response was overwhelming and so he decided to do a lot more.
“The response was phenomenal and I decided to continue doing more Zim classics. My goal really is to showcase the great depth of song-writing and overall music talent we have had in Zimbabwe. I also want to try to keep the legacy of those songs alive by dressing them up a little different, but still keeping up a little original essence intact,” he explained.
After watching the videos, a lot of people are requesting songs they want redone.
On his solo career, Zivanai has three albums: Pachedu (2005), Dut-storm (2007) and It’s time (2014).
“In a few weeks’ time, I’ll be releasing an album of my original songs that I’ve been working on during the lockdown,” said Zivanai.
Zivanai who teaches music in the US, is fronting a group called Zimbira. The Chronicle