5 February 2013

Zimbabwe: 'Road to Fame' Finalists Tanga Pasi Launch Debut Album

SININI NGWENYA, the leader of Plumtree-based Tanga Pasi, says local music promoters should cast their nets wider rather than concentrate on the big cities such as Harare and Bulawayo. Speaking at the launch of their 11-track album "Ntolontolo" (A Long Time Ago) at the Book Café on Saturday evening, Sinini urged promoters to look beyond the major cities.

"Promoters are biased towards Bulawayo and Harare yet there is abundant talent in the outlying areas which is going unnoticed," said the dreadlocked Ngwenya.

By launching their debut album in Harare, Ngwenya said this was their first step towards breaking the jinx against bands from the country's remote areas.

Tanga Pasi, which loosely translated means "Starting from Scratch", started its life as an accapella group on the western border town of Plumtree.

The Tanga Pasi Music Project began in June 2009, when lead vocalist and songwriter, Sinini Ngwenya, gathered together a few friends in the dusty rural village of Ngwana.

With not much employment or entertainment around, Sinini decided to try and get the guys to learn to sing together and play guitars.

From these optimistic beginnings, Tanga Pasi are crafting nu-afrow music; a unique fusion of reggae, afro-jazz, folk, rock, Kalanga rhythms and traditional Ndebele harmonies. With a contemporary yet culturally-grounded feel, they fuse styles, rhythms and instruments.

Since beginning in 2009, they have performed to a variety of audiences.

In 2010, they performed monthly gigs in their local town of Plumtree, at Dingumuzi Beerhall and AJY's.

In 2011, they relocated their base to the city of Bulawayo and have been performing more frequently at venues such as at Horizon, The Churchill Hotel and Cape to Cairo.

In 2012, they won the regional round of the "Chibuku Road to Fame" competition and represented Matabeleland South at the national event, but missed out on the top three.

"We deserved to be in the top three," Ngwenya said with an air of resignation. And after watching Tanga Pasi in action on Saturday, it would be difficult to disagree with him.

But, that disappointment has not dampened Tanga Pasi's quest for glory.

In fact, things appear to be looking up for the group.

They were invited to Durban in November 2011 to headline a nightly performance event at the Peoples Space (the University of KwaZulu-Natal) during the COP17 conference.

In March, Tanga Pasi is scheduled to take their act into the heart of Egoli -- "the City of Gold".

On the domestic front, Tanga Pasi's major breakthrough to date was taking part at the Victoria Falls Carnival which brought together both upcoming groups and some of the cream of Southern Africa's performing artistes among them superstar Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi, gospel singer Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave, South African songbird Zahara, man of the moment Sulumani Chimbetu and contemporary artiste Jah Prayzah.

During Saturday's album launch, Tanga Pasi sampled some of the tracks from their album, notably the title track, "Ntolontolo", "Africa", "Tate Mutilise", "Umqondo Wakho" (You Have Changed Your Mind), traditional song "Njelimana" as well as the love ballad "I'm Feeling Better".

The performance also included tracks such as "Unenhlanhla" (You are Lucky), "Elinye Ilanga" (Another Day), "Street Kids", "Sexy" and "Propaganda".

The crowd was also treated to some scintillating "Isitshikitsha" foot-stomping dances by Ngwenya and his wife Pamela, who showed some incredible traditional dancing skills and acquaintance with the Kalanga language despite her British roots.

Tanga Pasi is made up of Sinini Ngwenya (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Pamela Ngwenya (harmonica and other mouth organs), Blessing Shamu (bass guitar), Phathisani Moyo (keyboard) and Caleb Dube (drums).

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