Shona spreads in SA music circles

South African musicians are making the most of the popularity of the Zimbabwean vernacular, Shona, to reach out to a wider audience and enhance sales.

The latest in a series of local artists who have incorporated the language into their songs is Afro-pop sensation, Bulelwa Mkutukana, of Loliwe fame. A move by her stable, TS Records, to arrange a duet with Zimbabwean artist, Georgy, has successfully pushed their single, Incwad’ Encane, to the top of the charts.

Zahara, as the Sotho singing sensation is known, is popular among Zimbabwean nationals here, thanks to the collaboration with Georgy, who rhymes in Shona.

The offering has sold 200 000 copies, a remarkably high return considering the prevalence of piracy in the South African music industry.

Back in 1998, legendary artist, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, the Princess of Africa, sung in Shona, in an album that was a runaway success.

In 2006, House music duo, Revolution, teamed up with Andy Brown, a partnership that resulted in the successful Shungu. The same year, revolution featured mbira queen Chiwoniso Maraire on Shungu, which missed a South African Music Award by a whisker. Then there was Ringo Madlingozi, the King of Soul Ballads, who teamed with Zimbabwe’s most popular artist, Oliver Mtukudzi, to come up with Into Yami.

The duet was well-received in both countries and a decade after its production, is still a prominent feature on South African airwaves.

“There are millions of people who speak Shona in Zimbabwe and here in South Africa. The move by the artists to exploit that fact is working in their favour as their music then appeals to larger audiences,” said a Johannesburg-based music critic.

Post published in: Arts

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