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Shingai Shoniwa features in World Cup song… discusses her future plans

Experienced musician Shingai “Too Bold” Shoniwa featured in “On Y est” or “We made it” a World cup theme song feature before games beamed live in Africa.

“Our channel, which has also acquired the exclusive license to distribute the FIFA World Cup 2022 competition to 41 Sub Saharan African territories, will be releasing “On y est” (“we made it”), a song and its music video dedicated to those who feel inspired by Africa and wish to support our qualified African teams. This shows once again our commitment to make this Premium tournament a celebration in the continent, reach the Diaspora and beyond “ said Nimonka Kolani, Managing Director of New World Sport.

The song is produced by International French football and ex PSG striker star Guillaume Hoarau and Mathéo Techer known for his collaboration with Quincy Jones’ label in the US.

A line-up of top regional artists perform the song in regional languages, English and French, namely Shingai (Zimbabwe), M.anifest (Ghana), Bass Thioung (Senegal) et Samuel Makanzi ( Rwanda / Congo DRC).

The music video was shot in different location in Africa and directed by Guillaume Borrelli, nephew of PSG founder Francis Borrelli.

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The story broke several weeks ago. I spoke to the lively songbird with a controlled voice, inspired by her Soko or “The Monkey” roots.

“I am proud to be channelling my gifts and talents, which come from my African lineage anyway, to make a positive impact and change the narrative about the African continent on the world stage. People are not so used to the Zimbabwean home-grown Diaspora Creative stories stories being pushed by the Zimbabwean media so hopefully this is taking us one step closer to the world seeing that we can smash it and deliver on the world stage. I can also represent all pan Africanist Zimbabweans.”

Shingai has been in the industry for over 20 years, mostly with The Noisettes, as a Bassist and Lead or backing vocalist.
Shingai has been in the industry for over 20 years, mostly with The Noisettes, as a Bassist and Lead or backing vocalist.

The soundtrack will defined by the memories of the tournament. Definitive World Cup moments include Roberto Baggio’s missed penalty, Luis Suarez handling on the line to prevent a Ghananian goal in South Africa, and Zimbabwe losing the final qualifier in 1993 just 90 minutes away from a maiden appearance. Zimbabwe is a soccer mad country. Zimbabweans have tended to empathise with Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal on their memorable campaigns since 1990. Shingai empathizes: “Whenever the World Cup comes we always support the African teams. So it means so much to me.”

“It’s really important that we have positive Zimbabwean stories. We have this incredible creativeness. Amai Chipo (her mum) gave us the stories of our great artists like Bhundu boys, who were doing amazing things, touring with Madonna. I am not sure if they still get the dues they deserve. There was Miriam Makeba, Chioniso, Tuku, Fred Zindi, Uncle Thomas Mapfumo and many others greats whom I stand on the shoulders of.”

“Even though I was born and raised in South London I was raised to feel proud about our culture and mbira music but also South Africa, Malawi and Mozambique.”

“I was approached by Guillaume Hoarau, a striker from Reunion. He looked around for Artists embodying their African-ness in the diaspora. He contacted me from Paris. I said: “Yes” I wrote some long verses but we cut some lines in Lingala and Swahili and there is a Shona word in there. We cut them for length.

“I felt it was important to have an African anthem. The First time the World Cup was hosted in Africa we couldn’t have an African Artist or a diasporan singing on our own turf.” This was a sore point for some especially in South Africa. “We felt the need to remedy that”

Shingai has been in the industry for over 20 years, mostly with The Noisettes, as a Bassist and Lead or backing vocalist.
Shingai has been in the industry for over 20 years, mostly with The Noisettes, as a Bassist and Lead or backing vocalist.

Shingai’s mum’s totem (original Zimbabwean surname) is Shumba (Lion) while her dad is a Soko (Monkey) from Murehwa. She recites her lineage in Shona at the end of a 45 minute and 45 piece Orchestra performance that featured mbira and hosho instruments.

Shingai performed 2 songs “Too Bold” and “Coming Home.’ The latter was inspired by the song “Shumba,” a traditional shona standard sampled by her Uncle Thomas “(Soko) Mukanya” Mapfumo.

Why select this song? “That’s a very important piece. Sometimes we may feel the need to take the shortcut to imitate or impress those in the West and while compromising our authenticity. I stuck by my authenticity and I hope people can see that to be authentic pays off for me. We immortalized “Shumba,” one of our treasured, cherished folk songs. It is not just validated but celebrated in the West.” Shingai asked Guy Barker, one of the premium composers and conductors, to immortalize the song with his 45 piece BBC orchestra for “The Jazz Show.”

“The resurgence of cultural pride is important. We have to reclaim our creative culture. People liked Black Panther. We have everything that we need and we don’t realize huge entities such as Hollywood are respecting that and riding on our culture. Your average Zimbabwean fan may not know about this and it needs to be critically addressed.”

Shingai has been in the industry for over 20 years, mostly with The Noisettes, as a Bassist and Lead or backing vocalist. She is desperate to downplay her profile but she confirmed she stayed next door to a young Adele. They played Bass (Shingai) and Piano (Adele) together.

Shingai has been in the industry for over 20 years, mostly with The Noisettes, as a Bassist and Lead or backing vocalist.
Shingai has been in the industry for over 20 years, mostly with The Noisettes, as a Bassist and Lead or backing vocalist.

But Adele herself has cited Shingai as a childhood influence. Stunned by this incredible profile some have wondered if she feels Zimbabwean. She is as Zimbabwean as any other Soko-Murehwa. It’s not just what Zimbabwe can do for her; It’s what she is doing for Zimbabwe. Even if she grooms just one more young musician, the impact will be felt through the ages.

“Adele and I both went to the same school and were next door neighbours. She says I am her childhood inspiration on her pages. We talked about music and jammed together. Song-writing is our responsibility for the legacy of soul music.

“It’s because of my musical approach, not just as a pop musician, but as a proud Bantu that inspired her. You see her jumping to African music.”

This Adele anecdote is significant. Shingai plans on expanding the mentoring role to rural Zimbabwe and passing on her experience and to the next generation on her next visit. She is looking for Adeles in Zimbabwe and will be training them how to sing, compose, record and produce and providing the resources.

“It’s our responsibility as Artists to take charge of a skewed narrative to enjoy the benefits not just culturally but financially. As a legacy artist it’s also about empowering our young artists to embrace our older ones in their 80s and 90s.

“I have been inspired by Prudence Katomeni’s work to give pride, tools and resources of our culture to the youth. Some feel, about being a musician that: ‘It’s a job!’ and they cultivate a stage persona.

“I am a proud daughter of Soko and Shumba (my dad) so I am on a mission. Sometimes our music doesn’t go as far as it can go. We neglect the creative toolkit in our juicy stuff for people that don’t have our best interests at heart. Tuku and Chioniso gave us such a great musical canon to work with.”

Zimbabwe should embrace and cooperate with her initiatives that could be ground-breaking. In any country their Artist singing a continental World Cup anthem would be a source of pride and hashtags. It remains to be seen how Zimbabweans react. Influencers with hashtags and shout outs would be a good start.

She notes the discussions between various parties on the Zimbabwean sound, which can be an emotional issue. She is not taking strong positions on either side but embracing empowering Artists with knowledge and training.

Shingai has been in the industry for over 20 years, mostly with The Noisettes, as a Bassist and Lead or backing vocalist.
Shingai has been in the industry for over 20 years, mostly with The Noisettes, as a Bassist and Lead or backing vocalist.

But for Shingai sounding authentic is a no brainier: “Artists feel like we have to express imported genres before we can have love for those at home and abroad when we have enough content. I want to re-install that confidence. I had to fight for that slot (the World Cup song story) for other Africans to come to me because they see the African-ness in me rather than other conservative American music Artists based in Zimbabwe.”

Sharing the same ideology is 1990s child star Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana who starred in the film “More time” and sang many popular songs like “Ruva Rangu and “BP yangu yakwira.”

She specialises in teaching music. She draws up nationwide and continental music curriculums and does vocal coaching.

The group of ladies, together with Samantha Boka, is taking the mentoring and empowering route seriously and doing it in a motherly manner.

Boka says Oliver Mtukudzi and Hugh Masekela officially passed on the torch to the group and to Victor Kunonga, to make sure the traditional Zimbabwean sound is passed on to the next generation. They take this very seriously.

Within a year, to the day, of Masekela’s death Mtukudzi died. The ladies aren’t making too much noise about their work. But they could accomplish much in their quiet and determined way.

Shingai’s experience needs to be harnessed and appreciated back home. She returns home on long visits that are likely to become permanent soon. Chances of ground-breaking collaborations are just a matter of time. Perceptive local partners are wisely rushing to embrace the opportunities to do smart partnerships with her.

Shingai brings some of Zimbabwe’s and the world’s richest institutional memory. She has worked with impressive global names. But from a young age they hosted (in their home) Bhundu boys, John Chibadura and other visiting Zimbabwean musicians as she told Professor Fred Zindi in a recent interview.

This was reflected in the performance she did for the BBC with a 45 piece orchestra fusing mbira, hosho. She feels authenticity sells more than copying and imitating other cultures. It was very well received.

Her journey with hosho began while practicing with those visiting Zimbabwean musicians as ayoung Shingai provided them with a hosho metronome. Her graduation to bass guitar ensured her permanent stay in the Rhythm section.

True to her Soko (monkey) totem she is very active on the stage for her slot on the 45 minutes show available on BBC iPlayer in the UK.

She says: “I am very into black music that channels very grounded roots to it. Bass line is very important to electronic music. Bass line brings such a skipping, bubbly feel to any band song whether Reggae, Afro-beat or Amapiano song. Rhythm section is very central to black music. I am into the playful component of a musical piece that keeps our feet moving.”

Notable Zimbabwean bassists include Alick Macheso. But in the past 2 deceased bassists stood out: David Mankaba of Bhundu Boys and Don Gumbo of ilanga.

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