Up close with Selmor Mtukudzi
IT IS safe to say that Selmor Mtukudzi was destined for the glitz and glamour of showbiz due to the influence of her late father, Oliver, a revered African music legend.
To her credit, Selmor, who is married to Tendai the son of another local music legend Zexie Manatsa, has slowly curved a following for herself ever since she released her debut album Shungu in 2008. Since then, she has steadily kept her fans’ appetite quenched with more projects that have made her relevant both locally and regionally.
Following Oliver’s death due to diabetes complications in January 2019, Selmor was further thrust into the spotlight as the apparent heiress to this great musician’s colossus legacy. Where many have wilted under the pressure of expectation when placed in such situations, the 37-year-old appears to be holding her own.
The Daily News On Sunday’s Lifestyle Writer, Anesu Mirisawu, recently caught up with Selmor to discuss her music and family life. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Q: Who is Selmor Mtukudzi?
A: Selmor is a multi-award-winning Afrojazz musician and actress, her music is a fusion of jazz and traditional African rhythms
Q:When did Selmor launch her music career?
A: I launched my solo music career in 2008 with the release of the album Shungu. l went on and released two duets with my musician husband titled Selmor and Tendai Live and Ndinewe in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Q: How many albums have you released so far?
A: They are now six, the latest release being Dehwe Renzou released in January 2020, and the album was produced by renowned South African producer, Steve Dyer.
Q: Any awards or nominations?
A: My music has won me numerous awards and nominations in my home country, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Nguva Yangu being an instant hit, it was also nominated for National Arts Merit Awards and Zimbabwe Music Awards. The song also won Africa Entertainment Awards (USA) — Hottest Single of the Year. In 2015, l came together with eight other leading female African artists Judith Sephuma (South Africa), Victoria Kimani (Kenya), Vanessa Mdee (Tanzania), ArielleT (Gabon), Omotola (Nigeria), Waje (Nigeria), Yemi Alade
(Nigeria) and Blessing (South Africa), and collaborated on a song titled “Strong Girl”, the song was used to promote the campaign #PovertyIsSexist across the world asking the world leaders to tackle poverty by addressing gender equality.
Q: Besides music, what else do you do?
A: I’m an ambassador for Zimbabwe Big Five Animals Conservation namely the lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and cheetah. I seat on the board for Keepers Alert Organisation which is set out to empower the youth. I’m also on the board of Afro Jumbo Trust which is out to help stop the poaching of elephants in Zimbabwe.
Q: What is Vabvana Trust all about?
A: It is my own trust which I formed as a passion for uplifting girls and women’s voices; I believe that when you empower a woman, you empower a nation.
Q: Can you speak on allegations that there are divisions in the Mtukudzi family especially after your father’s death?
A: Just like any normal family, you have disagreements here and there, but l cannot say we are divided we are one big united family.
Q: How far have you gone in uplifting your father’s legacy?
A: My father was a legend, he was an icon across Africa and his music impacted many all over the world, no one can fit his shoes, they are too big. In a small way, we are trying to keep his music alive by touring, playing his music at live shows and also releasing our own compositions. That genre and touch will not die with Tuku. We are going to keep the candles burning!
Q: Are we likely to see you performing at Pakare Paye?
A: Very soon, Pakare Paye is our home.
Q: Do you have brothers or sisters who are into music?
A: I was born in a musical family where most are talented musicians, my late brother Sam Mtukudzi established himself as a musician in his own right, l also work with my big sister (Sandra) in my band.
Q: You once posted on social media notifying your fans that your phone was stolen. What really happened?
A: My phone was stolen from my hands while we were driving, the thief broke the passenger window where I was sitting and grabbed it. It happened so fast, I had no time to react, they then started calling my family and friends using my phone asking them for my ID number. I assume they were trying to get money from my bank and EcoCash accounts. I had to get the SIM card disconnected for fear they would be successful in finding my information from somebody, but that meant we couldn’t track them anymore. We followed up on the last position my phone pointed out but it was a dead end, they deleted my Facebook page: @Selmor Mtukudzi.
Q: How do you juggle motherhood and music?
A: Just like any working woman, the two deserve my attention, It is really a hard task, however, whenever I am not performing, I spend time with my family and fortunately my husband is also a musician, and we are in the same band, so I move with part of the family
Q: How best can you describe the late Thompson Dondo since you have worked together?
A: We worked well with him when I was still the Impala brand ambassador; he sponsored the recording of our album and the launch. Dondo also donated a car to the band, that was the man. We (musicians) have been robbed of a man, who assisted musicians beyond just music; he promoted and sponsored shows in Zimbabwe, UK and Canada for Zimbabwean artists.