Dancehall showing signs of growth but…


HARARE – Zimbabwean dancehall is one of the country’s music genres that is showing signs of growth in an industry which has always been dominated by sungura or museve music.

The response from dancehall musical concerts that have been taking place of late shows that the music genre can do more if the artistes behind the music are organised and well managed.

While the emerging dancehall stars are doing wonders on the live music circuit, there are certain grey areas that they need to work on, especially fulfilling engagements.

As a music promoter, I have been left with egg on my face several times when those youthful reggae dancehall acts advertised to perform at our shows fail to turn up for events.

And this is usually without any explanation and when you phone the artists they will lie to you that they are still on their way to the concert.

It is important that the dancehall acts respect both their contracts and the fans that religiously follow them by fulfilling their fixtures.

The first step is for them to appoint professional band managers who will be responsible for booking concerts and negotiating contracts with music promoters.

In all instances we as music promoters pay in advance or on signing these reggae dancehall acts part of their performances fees and as such they have to be committed and fulfil contracts.

The relationship between music promoters and musicians should always be healthy as each relies on the other and it would be unnecessary for us as music promoters to spend time chasing artistes so they reimburse us the advanced fees.

It would also not be to good for the two camps (musician and promoter) to end up in the courts fighting over the non-fulfilment of contracts.

Such court contests usually brew mistrust between us as music promoters and the musicians.

It seems there is more organisation in the sungura genre where most of the established musicians have engaged band promoters who are doing wonderful in terms of fulfilling contracts.

Today it is easier to engage sungura musicians like Alick Macheso, Peter Moyo, Suluman and Tryson Chimbetu or Oliver Mtukudzi because they have managers.

I have also dealt with gospel musicians like Pastor Charles Charamba and it is easy because they have a functioning management.

I have also met dishonest band leaders who negotiate and accept part payment for a gig, only for the band manager to disassociate himself/herself from the deal.

This usually leads to the non-appearance of the band as the manager will adamantly refuse the band permission to perform.

Or worse still there develops a situation of double booking.

But it is the dancehall musicians that I urge to get organised because the local showbiz has really opened out and accepted their music.

The dancehall musicians have to rise up and cement the leverage that they have so far managed to develop.

While most dancehall musicians are still at the infancy of their music careers they should know that the magic in live music business is to get it right the first time.

The first impressions are always lasting and once music fans get enough of the artistes’ bugling of engagements, they completely withdraw their support.

The likes of dancehall musicians like Winky D, Shinsoman, Lady Squanda and Guspy Warrior among several others are today household names in Zimbabwe and I urge them to be serious contenders on the showbiz circuit by doing right when it comes to fulfilling engagements.

Over the years youthful music fans in Zimbabwe have had little cheer in terms of the kind of music they can call theirs, and it being wholly Zimbabwean.

While the urban grooves genre had proved popular among the youths, it quickly ran out of steam on the live circuit.

I also blame the lack of professional organisation at all levels, particularly the day to day management of the musicians’ engagements and assignments.

It is also time that arts institutions like Culture Fund and National Arts Council of Zimbabwe pulled resources geared towards workshops that address the issue of band management.

With sound management, I see the dancehall genre reaching far territories and this will see even more interest from established festivals like Hifa.

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