WAY before Beyoncé Knowles, Rihanna, David Guetta or Calvin Harris were known by the music loving public the world over, the world knew Zimbabwe’s Rozalla Miller as the bona fide music dance queen.
More precisely, she was referred to as the queen of rave music as they called electro dance music back then.
She spawned hit song after hit song locally till a United Kingdom promoter decided that she deserved the big stage. After years of being backed by the famous family band, The Rusike Brothers, Rozalla left for the UK.
Immediately the dance scene over there was eating out of the palms of her hands. The pint sized vocal dynamo was angling for vocal glory in a world in which Whitney Houston was at the peak of her career in the United States.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the UK and Europe belonged to Rozalla. She was signed to Sony Music and had global distribution as well as pop king Michael Jackson as a labelmate.
In brief, Rozalla had it made. Everybody’s free to feel good and Faith in the power of love were some of her best known hits which have been rereleased countless times.
Everybody’s free to feel good has refused to fade and still sounds as relevant as ever.
Musicians come together
Now, UK-based musician Farhaan “Kazz” Khan of the Bkay and Kazz fame is back with a fresh single that features Rozalla. The song entitled Shaking through the night was produced by Germany-based Peter Schanz of R&S Entertainment group.
I heard the song and Rozalla still sounds as strong as ever vocally speaking. Her voice hasn’t lost any of its cadences. Personally, I favoured her locally produced hit songs such as Party Nights and ballads such as Forever penned by Phillip Rusike, which showcased her spectacular voice which is sometimes lost in the dance music groove.
Rozalla scaled the dizzy heights in pop music garnering a World Music Award for best selling african artiste in 1992 and being personally chosen by Michael Jackson to be a tourmate on his Dangerous Tour when he was truly the king of pop.
You can imagine, to me that was huge for our girl. She showed the way. All these other dancehall musicians or urban groovers who allegedly tour Europe are really in the delusion that is peddled by eager showbiz hacks. Let them try to follow Rozalla’s path to Wembley Stadium and other such platforms.
Khuxxman and The Kasi Princess unleash house music collaboration
The streets will hear it soon enough that 2014 Zima award winner in the house music category Khuxxman and self-styled house music queen TKP have birthed quite possibly a killer groove entitled Afro-Platinum presents Zimhouse- Bulawayo’s finest.
The project mastermind and executive producer is Reason “Rizzla” Sibanda. It features six Khuxxman tracks and six from TKP. Some are new and others are old.
TKP charmed me with her lyrical freshness on her debut album which I previewed in this column some time back. Her strength is that she has a unique voice which is not quite like anybody else’s.
Add her song writing ability into the mix and you should have an artiste with potential for longevity. Khuxxman is a dedicated musician and producer who plays a mean keyboard.
I can attest to the fact that he has come far enough. Although he is one of the musicians who decry the marginalisation of Bulawayo artistes by urban radio, the stations know that there exists one Khuxxman and the fame wasn’t handed to him.
Khuxxman broke through with the hit song Ma-Africa whose theme was African unity back in the ’90s etching his name in national musical posterity in the process.
Seemingly inspired by the disco beat of South Africa’s Dan Tshanda, Khuxxman has moonlighted with a groove that is a cross between disco, mbaqanga, kwaito, reggae and house music.
In recent times he has unleashed hit single Vumelani Isangoma which tore up the dance floors emalokitshini and snagged him the Zima award.
National Arts Merits Awards and 2014 poster boy Jah Prayzah!
MaMthombeni from the National Arts Council sent me a press release about the upcoming National Arts Merit Awards in February whose excerpt I include here:
“Moreover, the intention also is to empower the artistes as individuals and as artistes to take pride in their assorted works that not only reflect on their power in creativity, but also reward artistes that have helped shape and define Zimbabweans and give them a collective identity through artworks that are proudly made in Zimbabwe . . . The major aim of the awards is to stimulate artistic creativity and originality.” Really?
Fix the mess
Some stories just won’t go away. The Jah Prayzah one is a case in point. Stealing the Ghanaian singer Samini’s song of the same name, our local upstart recorded a video for the plagiarised song which he called Mwanasikana for which he won best video at the 2014 National Arts Merit Awards (Nama). The award, of course went to the video producer.
Now the problem is that the National Arts Council was rewarding the creativity exhibited in the video inspired by a stolen song.
We just can’t get over it, especially with the Nama round the corner.
What legitimacy remains with these awards? What message is sent to creators of original works when the mother body pussy foots on a matter of principle? It is mind boggling stuff; a circus proper.
Why should the nation support these awards when organisers refuse to plausibly account for their decisions? Last year we queried organisers about the Nama judging panel and selection criteria.
They gave Olivia Charamba an award for best female artiste of 2013. She had not produced any music in the year under review.
Edith weUtonga and Selma Mtukudzi were justifiably left chagrined by the whole affair. Come on now, Zimbabwe expects better from the Nama organising team. Consult stakeholders and avoid bungling.
Naija music shines
In 2014, D’Banj, an authentic African musician on a global platform strutted the stage at the World Music Awards. After a warmly received performance as a representative from Africa, he scooped the best selling African artiste award.
It was Nigeria’s proud moment. For all the notoriety surrounding them and the aspersions cast on them, we have yet to read about a Naija brother stealing someone else’s material.
The joke is on us Zimbos. More specifically the joke is on the National Arts Council for lacking the stomach for remedial action.
How do we grow this so-called pride in Zimbabwe when you cannot chastise those who dare make mockery of your sterling efforts at rewarding original Zimbabwean talent?
As for Rozalla (Zimbabwe’s biggest music export), though inspired by Whitney Houston, she never stole a Whitney song and pass it off as her own. Take note Jah Prayzah and all the other groupies of fame.
Thirty-four years down the line is too late to be on a learning curve when it comes to these awards. We either do right or we don’t do at all. By the way, the media is hardly someone’s errand boy or praise poet.
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