THE cloud always had a silver lining for one of the country’s revered sungura musicians Alick Macheso’s career.
His middle name is Silva and he turns 52 today.
Storytellers and arts writers alike have for long told how his rise to stardom was not an easy walk in the park.
A farm boy he was, born in the mining town of Shamva and music was his first love, we are told.
He was born on this day in 1968 and his mother was a farm worker.
His love for music saw him playing the makeshift guitars (mabhanju) and his peers not offering him a chance to strum the guitar because of his young age- but like Malcom X ,he had a dream!!
In his own words, a cousin took him to Harare around 1983 in what was initially a voyage of employment searching which ended up his musical Canaan.
The young Macheso stayed in Dzivarasekwa where he was to meet the country’s sungura music kingmaker Shephered Chinyani, who I believe has the bragging rights of being the DZ music boss!
Of course latter day musicians like Freeman (real name Sylvester Chizanga) also belong to that neighbourhood’s musical royal family as he has managed to groom other musicians in an area that also has a musical ‘counsel of elders’ like Somandla ‘Mafia’Ndebele.
Without being carried away, I will stick to Macheso’s story , it’s his birthday after all!
But his story will be incomplete without mentioning the Midas Touch of Chinyani.
Chinyani’s ears were mesmerised by Macheso’s talent on both vocals and guitar on one fine day when he passed through his cousin’s house.
“My father heard him strumming the guitar and he had to approach him and that is how they met and a teacher-student relationship started,” narrated one of Chinyani’sons who is also a talented instrumentalist plying his trade with Sulumani Chimbetu’s Orchestra Dendera Kings.
Chinyani’s son is a young fella and the narrative was probably the bed time stories from his father but further research corroborated that part of history.
Chinyani was one of the leaders at Vuka Boys one of the early sungura bands which also included Madzibaba Nicholas Zacharia.
Like many bands locally and abroad disputes arise.
It quickly reminds me of a story that Lucipher was a great musician who later left the heavenly choir (ignore the misplaced analogy!)
Macheso clicked with Madzibaba Zakaria’s faction and the two along with another Vuka Band member made a ‘soft coup’ and started their own band.
History was to repeat itself again and the third guy also left leaving Zakaria and Macheso forming part of the Khiama Boys.
Things were not all that rosy and Macheso teamed up with Donald Gogo (guitarist) who is one of the founding members of Orchestra Mberikwazvo- the band that was to bring him fortune, tears and fame.
In one of the most comprehensive works of art documenting Macheso’s rise and penned by arts journalist Tawanda Marwizi,the artiste revealed how he used to trod from Chitungwiza to Msasa Grammar Records on foot to secure a record deal.
Typical of the American rapper Marshal Mathers’ story where he knocked door to door with producers shutting doors in his face before he blew up to win Grammies!
“Gramma Records were sceptical to give me a deal since they thought I had no capacity but Bothwell Nyamondera negotiated with them and gave his two months’ salary if the project fails and that is how I managed to record Magariro,” he told Marwizi in his journal.
The big break came through in 1998, with his debut album Magariro, which was the first mark of a decorated discography which boasts of the likes of Vakiridzo,Magariro,Vapupuri Pupurai,Kwatakabva Mitunhu,Madawu and the list needs no introduction ,to any an avid follower.
His appeal extends to all age groups including young disporans who grew up on hip-hop and dancehall.
Fame, fortune and tears
Fame and fortune is usually trailed by a massive attraction of the fairer sex like magnet.
This almost derailed his career , same way it almost did to Dino Mudondo.
Macheso fell in love with a Harare socialite Tafadzwa Mapako and even penned a song for her when the relationship was at its peak and renting her a house in Eastlea .
Cupid’s Arrow had struck Macheso and he had even changed his behaviour.
A visit at the Eastlea house by this reporter and a colleague to investigate an alleged miscarriage almost turned nasty- the man was not wearing his traditional smile.
He was in a no-nonsense mood which was highly unlikely of him.
However, as time flew, he later realised that the lady was becoming a ‘poison ivy’ and the couple had a messy break up in which Tafadzwa hurled all sorts of insults.
Although Macheso was not forced to eat raw fish like what Cecelia Dapeta did to Dino(Mudondo), it later emerged that the ex-had caught his eye through namedropping, purporting to have links with the then First Family.
She never got to disapprove those allegations and the last time she was in the public glare was after a fist fight at Alex sports club.
Those unsavoury details are common for a 52 year old man after all!
Macheso reamined strong and when brow was hot in his social life, he kept his head up.
He shamed the devil and remained with his first wife Nyadzisa (Mai Shero) and theirs seems to be a Romeo and Juliet love tale as Mai Shero has occasionally showed some PDAs (Public Display of Affection) to the sungura kingpin.
Simply put, he played a Tiger Woods and remained on top of his game getting major endorsement deals with big firms like Nash Paints and Red Cross.
He proved his mettle with a massive collabo with Freeman where it was a display of the best of both worlds.
Macheso has been involved in some philanthropic work including handing over a building block to his former school and participating in Cyclone Idai relief.
As he turns 52 today we wish more life and more music.. Extra basso!!!
Meanwhile, a birthday performance will be beamed live on different digital platforms under the banner Garai Mumba Volume 7 this Wednesday, powered by Prophet Passion ‘Twabamu’ Java who has been complementing government efforts to support local art during the Covid-19 induced national lockdown.
As has been tradition, his all-weather fans like entertainment consultant Wanisayi Mahwindo Mutandwa,Josh Hozheri,Partson Chipaz Chimboza,Esteem Communications,Nash Paints will be involved in the background.
Interestingly, Mahwindo got her nickname from Macheso- a gesture which cements how fans and artistes create a bond that goes beyond art to family!