18 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Tariro - a Legend in the Making

The flyer advertising Tariro neGitare's concert says: "She is an afro-soul guitarist and vocalist who exudes evident influences from Oliver Mtukudzi, India Arie, Lauryn Hill and Sara Tavares among others." The flyer goes on to invite fans to be inspired by this "celebration of everything African and a celebration of African music".

Armed with this information, I found myself at the Zimbabwe German Society gazebo at 6.30pm on Saturday night, more out of curiosity than anything else.

It did not take long for Tariro, or "TnG" for short, to put my curiosity to rest with a five-star performance that belied her lack of publicity.

For 90 minutes (which was later extended due to public demand), Tariro serenaded revellers with a catalogue of songs from her upcoming album and several others, which included "Mascara", "Watora Moyo Wangu", "Burning Like a Wildfire", "Karwiyo" and "Cut Cut".

Coming from a background where it is considered taboo for a woman to play the guitar, Tariro said her goal was to become a role model and inspiration to other girls who might be thinking twice about embarking on a career in music.

"I get inspiration from things that take place around me and my own personal experiences," she told revellers about the source of her songs.

One such song inspired by her experiences is the track "Ishe Anesu" in which she talks about the need to accept that whatever happens in life is beyond our control as it is the Almighty who has the final say.

She went on to narrate how she gave birth to pre-term daughter (born at 27 weeks), Anesu, who is now six years old and the song "Ishe Anesu" is her own way of thanking God for giving life to her precious daughter.

The afro-soul diva also hinted that not everyone is happy with her success and for her detractors she composed the track, "The Best is Yet to Come" which is a clear message to those who want bring her down that they will not succeed.

Then there was also a track called "African Girl" in which she expresses her pride in being black, extolling the beauty of her "mufushwa" hair and not shy to don the famous wrap-around "zambia" cloth to demonstrate her Africanness.

Tariro does not just sing about love. She sings about the trials and tribulations of relationships. For example, the track "Mascara" tells the story of a woman scorned by her lover despite her attempts at looking beautiful for him to the extent of putting on mascara.

In the song "Cut Cut" she brings out the all too familiar story of a breakdown in communication between lovers when one decides to cut the phone whenever it rings.

In "Uripi?" Tariro takes the audience through song, a cry from the heart of a woman who has been promised marriage only for the bridegroom-to-be to vanish into thin air before the impending nuptials.

She also showed just how versatile she is by rapping on two of her tracks to the delight of the patrons and spiced up her performance with a rendition of Jamaican reggae artist Shaggy's hit song "Angel" as well as the late South African reggae artiste Lucky Dube's "Together As One".

But just who is Tariro neGitare?

Born Tariro Ruzvidzo in Harare, "TnG" has shared the stage with some of Zimbabwe's finest musicians including, Alick Macheso, Oliver Mtukudzi, Victor Kunonga, Dudu Manhenga and Stella Chiweshe amongst others.

She has also had the opportunity to share the stage with American band Publish the Quest, German bands Favo and Jamaram.

Tariro made her debut solo performance at the Harare International Festival of the Arts 2012, through the Acoustic Night, a project she founded and has been supported by the Zimbabwe German Society to promote local artistes.

Ruzvidzo started playing the guitar while at St John's High School in Emerald Hill, Harare, taught by a German Sr Elizabeth Wedeking in 1998.

It was those guitar skills that led to her being spotted by Edith WeUtonga at the Sistaz Open Mic and was soon invited thereafter to join the predominantly female band, Utonga.

During her formative years she was part of a group with vocalist Cathy Mtezo Mhlanga called Juvenation but when her partner left the onus was on her to start her own outfit and this culminated in the birth of Tariro neGitare.

She is still the guitarist for the band Edith WeUtonga and at the same time pursuing her own solo career evidenced by recently recorded single "Watora" currently selling on iTunes and working on her own album.

During Saturday's concert, the master of ceremony introduced the artiste as the "legendary Tariro" but quickly corrected herself by saying "the soon-to-be legendary Tariro" and judging by Saturday's performance, there is little doubt that Tariro is indeed a legend in the making.

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