The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Kudzai Sevenzo - Zim's Shining Star

INCREDIBLE voices aren't just heard from those who have had years of voice training. Some people are just born talented and you cannot take that away from them. I was blown away by Kudzai Sevenzo's voice, first during a live performance, then by her recording output. Wow! Talk about resonance, the sister has got it under wraps.

In live performances, Kudzai belts it out like it should be and the audience goes wild.

This "young" girl has it all - and it shows! She puts it on the line and finishes with a standing ovation.

This girl is taking the world by storm. She is indeed a powerhouse of a voice.

I am totally addicted to talent whenever I see or hear it. Sometimes I just can't believe the talent that is coming out of Zimbabwe.

Extremely talented, performing artiste, voice-over artiste, singer, songwriter, actress, African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) nominee, National Arts Merits Awards (Nama) nominee, NEA nominee, M-Net's Project Fame contestant, M-Net's Studio 53 presenter and Zi-FM radio presenter, Kudzai Nyarai Sevenzo has all the accolades only a few people can dream about.

The list is endless and it is beyond the capacity of many awarders of merit to acknowledge such great talent. Despite this massive talent, she remains a very humble lady.

Kudzai attended Courteney Selous Primary School in Greendale, Harare at the age of six.

She will not tell us exactly when in case we start guessing her age, which is a well-kept secret. She then moved on to Chisipite Senior School where she studied French and English Literature, before going on to study IATA to be a travel consultant. She found travel agency boring when she discovered that it did not involve a lot of travelling.

It was after this course that she decided to try her hand in music after being inspired by the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi, Brenda Fassie, Miriam Makeba, Lucky Dube, Judith Sephuma, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Salif Keita, Mike and the Mechanics, Earth Wind and Fire and Lebo to name a few. After talking to Biddy Partridge, Nigel and Penny Yon, she was introduced to the group Mhepo Jazz Band and soon became a member.

After a while, she became bored with the band and once again went back into travel industry as a travel consultant. It was in 2004, at the age of 25, that she got wind of auditions for an M-Net talent show called Project Fame. She went for the audition, was flown to South Africa and made it to the penultimate round.

Unfortunately, despite her massive talent, she did not make it and lost out on the R900 000 big prize money and a music contract.

During her stint at Project Fame, she got to meet some musical greats in the industry such as Ringo Madlingozi, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Judith Sephuma.

Failure in the Project Fame project did not deter Kudzai. She soon returned to Zimbabwe and released her first album "On A Day Like This" which was well received nationally and internationally.

A few years later, she landed a role on M-Net's Studio 53 as the show's presenter. It was during this stint that she travelled extensively within the African continent and got to dine and meet with the likes of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia. While having breakfast together, they talked business and Kudzai spelt out her future plans and ambitions to the president.

She returned to Zimbabwe and released her second album "Child of Africa'" which also included a duet with Oliver Mtukudzi.

Apart from musical projects Kudzai has also been involved in films and acting. Last year she was up for an award at the Africa Movie Academy Awardsin Lagos, Nigeria, on April 22 . The singer-actress was nominated in the Best Actress category for her role in "Playing Warriors", a Zimbabwean feature film.

The awards are Africa's most prestigious for filmmakers.

Only films produced and released in Africa between December 2010 and December 2011 were eligible. Although she did not get the award, she attended a glittering ceremony which was hosted by "Heroes" star Jimmy Jean-Louis.

Not only is Kudzai a singer and actress. As a voice-over artiste radio stations in Zimbabwe are flooded with Kudzai's voice on advertisement jingles for different products.

Advertisers have recognised her massive talent that they prefer Kudzai to do the sales announcements of their merchandise.

She is also a performing artiste. Last year alone, Kudzai staged several performances for tourists in Victoria Falls.

Kudzai is not too keen on talking about her love life and although there was a lot of publicity about her and a man only known as Maimba, we are not sure whether or not this relationship is still on. It is difficult, once one becomes a celebrity to keep one's private life under wraps. Kudzi tries. She, however, says that she has a solid support system in place in all her endeavours.

Her family and friends believe in her and with this support she has acquired the confidence to carry on with all her projects.

To Kudzi, the sky is the limit.

It was reported that she was involved in a car accident when she collided with a haulage truck on Simon Mazorodze Road near Mbare, but she got off without any serious injury. Circumstances leading to that accident are not clear but itwas reported that her small car rolled over three times before landing on a roadside kerb. Kudzi herself attributes her near-death experience to having faith in God who provided guidance and protection.

As a woman who dreams big, there are many projects hidden up Kudzai's sleeve but she is not keen to discuss them yet until she is ready. One can only speculate or hear about it through the grapevine.

There were also rumours that she was working on an album with South Africa's Ringo Madlingozi, but if this is true, this album is still yet to hit the streets. The collaboration we can confirm so far is one she did with Tuku and Jonah Sithole, years ago.

Whichever way Kudzai certainly dreams big. She has even devised a section on her Zi-FM "Get Lifted" radio programme called "Dream Big".

That certainly makes Kudzai every teenage girl's inspiration as she encourages them not to be discouraged by those who try to block their way. She is boundless

In her own words, she has this to say:

"I am inspired by Africa's icons and I believe I would one day be like them."

The African icons she is talking about here are those that I have listed above.

Currently, Kudzi is working on her third album and has some international tours lined up for 2013. Next week she travels to Denmark where she will stage some shows in front of a European audience. She is also working on a brand new movie which is a time piece, later on this year.

Big up Kudzie and dream big!

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