Macheso talks death, band, sons

Sungura supremo Alick Macheso is a troubled soul. He desires peace of mind, yet once again it has deserted him following the demise of music legend Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, whom he considered a friend.

He says the last time he found himself in such a state was after the passing of talented sungura musician, the inimitable Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo, who died on October 15, 2011.

Seeing the offspring of departed musicians floundering in the cut-throat music industry and sometimes fighting to gain control of bands left by their fathers has the “Pfuma Yacho” singer distressed.

The veteran singer has over the years lost colleagues, both younger and older than him. Some left children that are struggling to carry on with the legacy of their parents.

And now more than ever the sungura ace is determined to create a clear succession plan for his children, particularly his sons- Esau and Tatenda.

The man affectionately called Baba Sharon by his legion of fans said he fully appreciates that “life is but a shadow, one moment you are here and the next you are gone”. Thus he wants to ensure that when his time is up, he leaves his affairs in order.

“I’m losing friends, peers in music and naturally zvinoita kuti udzamise pfungwa (it gets you thinking),” said a distraught Macheso.

“My death might not be far. It can be today, tomorrow, next week kana pazvichaitikira ipapo (or whenever) and I should be able to rest in peace. But if I’m to fall today, that will not happen! Esau and Tatenda still need further refinement,” said Macheso.

The sungura king unveiled his two sons on stage last year in June when he celebrated his 50th birthday. Esau (22) and Tatenda (21) have since featured at a number of the singer’s live gigs, seizing the opportunity to showcase their talents every time their father takes a break during live performances. But something was different when the two took to the stage last Sunday at a family show in the capital. Baba Sharo, who usually leaves the venue only to return after a short while, did not do so. The veteran singer briefly turned into a reveller so as to assess the strides made by his boys.

“I have been fortunate enough to see the dangers of not planning for ‘after-life’ from my fellow musicians. It has made me realise, rather prioritise the need to create a proper takeover plan for the family. They do not have to squabble for the band after I’m gone like what I have seen happening in some instances,” he explained, adding,

“My parents did not want me to venture into music. I used to get beaten until they realised that it was my calling. I don’t want to do that with my kids. When I look at the late Samanyanga (Tuku), I’m pained a lot. He had done well by grooming his late son Sam, I want to try and do the same. We need to properly plan for these kids.”

As it stands there are plenty of interested parties who want to benefit from brand Tuku and the Black Spirits band. The list of aspirants ranges from the singer’s children, his widow, former band members and some young musicians Tuku groomed at Pakare Paye Arts Centre.

Confusion over who will inherit Macheso’s empire is one thing the sungura maestro is trying to address while he still breathes. However, he remains cognisant of the fact that his success will not automatically be rubbed off to his offspring.

This probably stems from the fact that he has nurtured careers, most from scratch, of several children of fallen legends. Some have done well while others have struggled to find a breakthrough.

“I did not force them (his children) into music. They approached me with the idea and I have only been supportive. But of late I have started pushing them hard without necessarily stressing them. I want the two to develop fast and gain confidence. Tatenda appears to have more composure than Esau. Probably it is because Esau tends to concentrate too much on the guitar than the crowd.

“I have in the past never bothered to watch them perform live but today (last Sunday) I decided to see how they play and how the crowd is responding to them. I will start doing it often. My criticism coupled with that of fans will make them strong. By July they should be ready for the studio,” revealed Macheso.

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