The Herald (Harare)

27 December 2006

Zimbabwe: Zanove Launches a Resounding Comeback

Harare — IT is 1990. A young man fresh from high school walks into the cut-throat world of showbiz, armed with high aspirations of taking the local music scene by storm.

And since Lady Luck is smiling on him, he finds himself knocking on the late prolific sungura musician, Ephraim Joe's door. The musician is impressed by the young man's voice and immediately offers him a job as one of his backing vocalists.

Such are the dramatic beginnings of sungura artiste, Musekiwa Zanove of Zhekezheke Express outfit.

Today, 16 years down the road, Zanove has released his sixth album, Vandudzo, which is well received during most of his shows, which he often holds jointly with gurus such as Hosiah Chipanga, among others.

It is these joint shows with such big names in the music industry that have helped him to launch a resounding comeback.

The songs on his latest album bear uncanny traces of the influence of Ephraim Joe, Nicholas Zakaria and Alick Macheso. This, however, is not surprising if one is to closely trace Zanove's musical journey, which he travelled over the years to where he is today.

Zanove cut his music teeth at the popular Sungura Boys outfit under the tutelage of the late sungura music pathfinder Ephraim Joe who was the group's frontman.

After efforts to record the album Mbiri Yekutsvaga Mari with the Sungura Boys had flopped, his thirst and quest for greener pastures led him to another famous group, the Khiama Boys, the following year.

Here, he was greeted with stiff competition since the outfit was star-studded, comprising music aces Nicholas Zakaria, Alick Macheso, the late Fanuel "System" Tazvida, Gift Bhutazi and Levison Chakanyuka who were the cream of the band.

As a result, Zanove was reduced to a mere "poster boy" who had to go around sticking up posters advertising the band's shows. But this did not deter him from learning some guitar chords and polishing his vocals.

"It was indeed a learning period for me," he recalls.

After leaving the Khiama Boys, Zanove worked as a municipal police officer before retiring and eventually starting his own group, Zhekezheke Express, in 1998.

Nhungamidzo, his first effort, was released the same year but received lukewarm response.

But it was his second album, Anesu, recorded in 2000, that was well received by music lovers and eventually heralded him as one of the country's young, upcoming and talented musicians.

His other albums are Makanaka (2004), Nhano Nenhano (2005) and his latest offering, Vandudzo, released in September.

The latter is packed with constructive social messages as well as scintillating sungura tunes.

Born on September 1, 1974, Zanove was educated at Zengeza Primary School and Seke 2 High in Chitungwiza where his passion for music first developed.

Like one of his mentors Zakaria, Zanove is also a member of the Apostolic Faith sect, a religion that largely inspires most of his lyrics. He is married to Sekai and the couple has two children, Privilege (12) and Adelaide (5).

He explained that Zhekezheke came about after facing criticism from people who were cynical that he would make it in the music industry.

"When they saw me practising with my group, they dismissed us as 'zhekezheke,' meaning something that lacks direction and that is very weak. That is how the name stuck and we just decided to adopt it as our own," said Zanove, who resides in Chitungwiza's Unit H suburb.

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