BULAWAYO – Musician and producer Vusa Mkhaya, who has been based in in Austria for the past 20 years, is currently hogging the limelight with his latest and third solo album titled uManyanyatha.
Mkhaya, member of the award -winning imbube outfit Insingizi, is currently on a short break in Zimbabawe.Our Bulawayo reporter Jeffrey Muvundusi recently spoke to Mkhaya on his long career. Below are excerpts of the interview:
Q: Who is Vusa Mkhaya?
A: Mkhaya is a singer, songwriter, music producer and entertainer born and raised in Bulawayo Zimbabwe.
Q: Can you take us through your imbube music journey?
A: I started singing Imbube at an early age at school. I joined the then Insingizi Emnyama (now called Insingizi) in 1992 and I am still a member of Insingizi till to date.
Q: You started your career more than two decades ago. How and when did you shift base to Austria?
A: We shifted base to Austria in 1997 when we decided as Insingizi to further our music knowledge and enroll at a music institute in Graz, Austria. Our aim was to come back to Zimbabwe after school and share our knowledge with other artistes back home. The economic situation in Zimbabwe had other plans so we ended up deciding to stay and work from there.
Q: Why did you go solo?
A: This is a side project that I enjoy doing when I am not busy with Insingizi.
Q: Is the band Insingizi still as vibrant as it was?
A: Insingizi is very alive and I am proudly part of it.
Q: As a solo artiste you have adopted a different type of music. What is it called and why did you shift from the original beat?
A: I don’t know how to call the music I do on my solo project. I personally don’t like putting music in a box and genres etc. The shift from Imbube was to give people a different perspective and also to widen my song-writing and composing skills.
Q: As a solo musician, how many albums have you released so far?
A: So far I have three albums namely The Spirit Of Ubuntu, Vocalism and Umanyanyatha.
Q: How has your music been received internationally?
A: It has been received well and I am happy because it’s not easy to penetrate the international market traditional music.
Q: You came back home ahead of the festive season to market your latest album, how has been the response?
A: The response has been good. We also did a sold-out concert recently. It really made me happy to see people coming from as far a South Africa and Botswana to watch us perform.
Q: Do locals appreciate your music the same way they do in Austria?
A: Yes they do appreciate my music a lot judging by the concert we did in Bulawayo and the response from callers when we did a live interview on radio. I think we have a lot of people who want to support local musicians. What we need in Bulawayo are family-friendly venues where families can come and enjoy music without the fear of rowdy and drunk crowds that usually frequent night spots where music ends up becoming a second priority.
Q: What inspired your latest album?
A: The inspiration for my new album was my upbringing, family, cultural values and ubuntu. It is important to know who we are and where we come from so that we know where we are going.
Q: When can we expect a new offering?
A: I am already working on new songs for the new album and I hope by end of this year we will have the CD ready for the market.
Q: Does imbube still as popular as it was when you began two decades ago?
A: Yes it is still fairly popular. Imbube music was and still is one of my favourite genres. If it is given a good platform on radio like other music genres, it will be a hit just like before.
Q: What can be done to revive it to its old golden days?
A: Give it a chance on radio so that people know about it just like what was happening during the radio 2 days of Ezra Tshisa Sibanda.
Q: Have you won any awards as a solo artiste?
A: As Vusa Mkhaya I haven’t won any award yet but with Insingizi we won the Radio France World music Award in 2010 in Marseille France.
Q: Who can you single out as Bulawayo’s most talented artists so far?
A: Most of Bulawayo musicians are my friends/colleagues, so singling one out will be unfair to others.
Q: Your last word?
A: We have a lot of talent in Bulawayo. My wish is for everyone to be given a platform .We need a level playing field on the art scene so that they get the exposure they deserve.