Thursday 15 September 2011

Alexio Kawara's - the boy from Glen Norah

The closest I came to rubbing shoulders with Alexio Kawara was during the Nama awards ceremony at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale in February 2007 when he walked away with two awards.
A month earlier, Alexio Kawara had scoped two awards during the Zima awards. Alexio Kawara is probably one of the very few urban grooves artists still going strong today.
This lasting power has been attributed to his versatility and use of live instruments to appeal to a wider audience.
Born on November 28, 1978 in Harare, Alexio attended the local school, Shiriyedenga Primary School from 1985 to 1991, before progressing to Mazowe High School from 1991 to 1995, and Vainona High School for his A Level. His inherent love to serenade pulled him in the Choir since primary school to A Level, but not even in his wildest imagination did he think he would be a fulltime musician.
He went on to study for his Advanced level certificate at Vainona High School and his passionate affair with music continued even then.
          He started off at primary school entertaining his teachers and other pupils in Harare’s high density suburb of Glen Norah and when he went to Mazowe Secondary School he befriended two boys who would become some of Zimbabwe’s notable musicians. These were Zivanai Masango who had a stint with Thomas Mapfumo and Zimbabwe Republic Police Band member Watson Chimombe.
When they left Mazowe, together with Joel Zamani, they formed Black by Nature, a gospel outfit. After Black by Nature, Alexio was invited by Delani Makhalima, Brian Garikai and Donda Khumalo in 2000 to join the group ?uess at Galaxy Records.
They recorded together a couple of singles including Amai, which topped the charts for almost a whole year. The group also performed at the closing ceremony of the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in May 2000.
In 2001, Alexio recorded a solo album, Usazondisiya, with Shamiso Studios after the disbandment of ?uess and the closure of Galaxy Records.
Some of the songs on the album were Ndinomhanya, Kumba Kwenyu, Mandigura Kunorira and Chemera Jesu.
His second album, Rwendo Rwangu, came in 2003. It was more mature with its afro-jazz feel such that Chibvugubvugu track made it across the borders into Zambia, Botswana and Malawi.
Alexio did not release any album in 2004 but made a huge come-back in 2005 when he launched Pfimbi Yangu (My Secret Place) which was produced by Macdonald Chidavaenzi (MacDee) who is one of Zimbabwe’s greatest producers. MacDee won the Zima 2006 Producer of the Year.
Pfimbi Yangu was recorded at Shamiso Studios where Alexio met Ernest Manandi (Nesto) who also helped on the album apart from Tererai Mugwadi, the Zima 2005 Best Female Urban Groover, who featured on the track Tinodanana.
As a result of these collaborations, 2006 ended on a high note for Alexio who scooped two Zima Awards among them the Best Urban Groover and Song of the year. He was also was the star for the year when he took home two awards at the 6th Nama edition at the 7 Arts Theatre in Harare.
He has since featured Oliver Mtukudzi in some of his songs as well as Clive Mono Mkundu, former guitarist for Mtukudzi’s Black Spirits.
What I remember vividly was how Alexio Kawara hugged his mother and thanked her for not giving up supporting him.
‘When I don’t have money for bus fare,’ he said in his acceptance speech, ‘she gives me. She has not given up on me.’
One of the songs that won him a 2007 Nama award in the Outstanding Song category, Tinodanana, Alexio Kawara collaborated with Tererai Mugwadi who was also present at the ceremony to receive the award.
I recall writing two stories on his Nama and Zima successes.

 Zimbabwe meet Alexio Kawara

With a lot of controversy surrounding local urban music, Godwin Mungwadzi caught up with Alexio Kawara to bring you this exclusive interview, as a way of paying homage and respect to one of the pioneers of local contemporary groovy laid back soul music.
‘I never thought I'd make it in the music industry’ says Alexio. ‘I guess the fact that I've landed in this position where i can claim to be a professional musician is nothing short of destiny. To be honest I didn't envisage a full time life behind the mic, Like anyone else with the determination, talent and voice I dreamed of being a recorded artist, believe me when I say it was no stroll in the park, back then Zimbabwe only had so many recording studios and back then they were not open to my style of music, instead they were slanted towards the locally brewed Sungura music.’
Alexio started hunting for a record deal in 1998 but to no avail. All efforts were in vain, unfortunately for him like many successful artists out there, the road to fame was no Christmas. No record deal, no unsigned hype Alexio was on the brink of giving up when he teamed up with a couple of friends to form the group ?uess. Things did not shape up till they met Delani Makhalima, best described as an urban music enthusiast, one of the patriarchs of modern music beats in Zimbabwe.
He showed off his skills on ?uess debut Album by writing the song Amai back in 2000 which went on to be one of the best local urban contemporary songs in the history of music in Zimbabwe surpassing the levels which had been set by the legendary duo Kelvin and Muzi on their song Tombofara! (Well maybe most of you weren’t born back then lol)
Alexio, thanks for passing through and making this interview happen, my man. Without wasting much of your time, in your own words, tell us briefly who is Alexio Kawara?
I’m 31, fourth born in a family of 5. All of my siblings are artists and I represent the musical sector of art in my family. I’m also one of the leading voices of our generation with four albums with 6 number one hits and four music awards.

Four awards! That’s huge my man. Mind telling us what they were for (videos or audio).2006 Zima - best male urban groove award; 2006 Zima - Song of the year (Tinodanana); 2007 Nama - Outstanding Album (Pfimbi Yangu); 2007 Nama - Outstanding song (Tinodanana).
So what kind of music do you make? Is it digital or acoustic? Do you play any instruments?  If digital who does your production? If it’s live/ acoustic who plays the instruments? Do you have a band?
It’s a combination of both, the drums are programmed and all other instruments are recorded live in the studio. I’ve worked with a number of producers since I started which Flash Gordon, Macdee, Delani Makhalima, Jairos Hambahamba , Clive Mono Mukundu only mention a few. Yes I have a band it’s called Shades Black, consists of 6 members (Eddie bass guitarist, Dragon lead guitarist, Isa Chida drummer, Corny Muponda keyboardist, Bella Charlie backing vocalist and Roy Zuka sound engineer). We’ve been together for just over a year. We are still to do our first recording together as Shades of Black.
Which Record label are you signed to Alexio Kawara.I’m signed to Alexio Entertainment my own record label.
How and when did you get started, what made you decide on jumping into the music business? What motives and what motivate you to keep going?
I started in 1998 but I was taking music as a part time profession then. I did my debut single in 2000 with the group ?uess, I wouldn’t say I decided to jump in to the music business, everything sort of just like fell in place, my natural love for music motivated me to start recording and it also motivates me to keep going.
Is music your sole source of livelihood or there are other projects/career?
In the meantime, yes. Soon I’m planning to get advertising and merchandising.
Briefly, what challenges are you facing as a Musician in Zim?
The Industry is not Artist friendly there’s a lot of stuff which need to be corrected from the production houses down to the consumer
What things do you look forward to as a musician in Zim?
Looking forward to a brighter and better future just like any other musician all over the world.
Do you think social networks like Facebook and twitter are playing positive role to reach out to your fans. In what way are you using them to advance your career/ to your advantage?
They are playing an immense role because on my fan page on Facebook I can communicate with fans, using their insights I can understand my fans demographics and most importantly advertise my shows and my fans can RSVP if they are attending and its all for free.
For bookings and private shows how can people get in contact with you man?
I have a website which is almost done but in the mean time they can contact my manger Don Gwese on his cell; 091228417.
Any advice to upcoming musicians?
Perseverance outlasts persecution keep working hard and you’ll make it.
What do you think about the state of Zim music industry?
It still needs a lot of work. There’s so much talent in Zim but very little support for it and also people need to appreciate the music enough not to buy pirated copies.
What do you think about the state of local radio and TV?
I think they are doing their best given the fact that we are just coming out of a phase of economical challenges.
What can Alexio fans expect in 2010 in the near future?
Better music, better performances, and tours abroad and maybe a fifth album.
Any last words or any news you would like to share before we conclude?
I want to thank my fans all over the world for their constant support and most importantly I want to thank God for giving me the talent. That’s all man. -

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