Oliver Mtukudzi Biography

1952, Highfield, Harare, Zimbabwe. Along with Thomas Mapfumo, Mtukudzi aka Tuku, and his band the Black Spirits, has played one of the most prominent roles in the modernization of traditional Zimbabwean music, mixing African-American soul with mbira and other traditional beats. He recorded his first single, ‘Pezuna’, in 1976, after which he joined the Wagon Wheels Band, and recorded his first major hit, ‘Dzandimometera’. The band was steeped in Zairean rumba, then hugely popular in Zimbabwe, and in 1977 Mtukudzi, keen to reflect more of Zimbabwe’s culture in his music, left to form the Black Spirits. The band released their first album, Ndipeiwo Zano, in 1978. In 1979, when the wartime curfew and travel restrictions were lifted, Mtukudzi took the Black Spirits on the road and built up substantial followings in Zambia, Botswana and Malawi. He also branched out into acting, starring in the Zimbabwean productions JIT and Neira. A prolific recording artist, Mtukudzi’s recent albums have offered a mixture of reggae, soul and deeper Zimbabwean sounds like the mbakumba and katekwe, and have helped maintain his position as one of Zimbabwe’s great innovators. Although Mapfumo earns most of the international plaudits, Mtukudzi regularly outsells that artist at home in Zimbabwe, where he is the undisputed king.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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