PROMISING Kalanga music group Tanga Pasi are determined to defy odds to put Matabeleland South on the world map.
Tanga Pasi, which means starting from scratch, was formed on June 29, 2009, in the rural village of Ngwana in Plumtree.
Sinini Ngwenya, the lead vocalist, gathered a few friends from the dusty village and their rise has been nothing but phenomenal.
Starting up in the music industry in Zimbabwe is a huge challenge, with very few income opportunities for new bands.
The group has pioneered what they call nu-Afro music; a contemporary folk fusion of reggae, Afro-jazz, rock, Kalanga rhythms and traditional Ndebele harmonies.
With a current yet culturally-grounded feel, they fuse styles, rhythms and instruments.
They rose to national prominence in 2012 when they represented Matabeleland South in the Chibuku Road to Fame competition.
But it has not been smooth sailing for a group hailing from a remote part of Zimbabwe.
“Outside of Harare, there seems to be little support and no culture of paying for live music,”
Pamela Ngwenya, who provides backing and occasionally, lead vocals for Tanga Pasi, said.
“Although now being from a Kalanga area is a disadvantage in terms of popularity, marketing and exposure in Zimbabwe, we are confident that in the future, this will actually turn in our favour as Kalanga people worldwide gradually hear of our music and recognition is given to Tanga Pasi’s original yet culturally distinctive style.”
The group is currently riding high with their debut album Ntolontolo (meaning a long time ago), which was released in February 2012. The album was launched at the Book Café in Harare where it was well received.
“It has 11 tracks and the different songs were inspired by different things, including traditional folk stories, contemporary societal struggles and situations, as well as our own dreams and experiences,” Pamela said.
“The title track takes its lyrics from a traditional Kalanga folk song and we put this to an original guitar and harmonica-based musical arrangement.”
Tanga Pasi founder Sinini began his musical career as a founding member of the a cappella group, White Umfolosi, at the tender age of 11.
This a cappella background influences the harmony-led vocal component of Tanga Pasi’s music.
“However, with the two leading band members being from different continents (Pamela from Europe), with years of exposure to international music, our sound is distinct and inventive in style,” Pamela added.
Other members of the group are Blessing Shamu (bassist and backing vocalist), Caleb Dube (drums) and Phathisani Moyo (keyboardist).