Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Correspondent
VOCALIST Ashleigh Manyakaidze who has worked with the likes of Jeys Marabini and Takesure Zamar, is now focusing on creating a solo brand as she believes she has what it takes to penetrate the music scene.
Using the stage name Ashleigh Love, the Zvishavane-born, Bulawayo-based versatile musician started her journey seven years ago singing gospel music. Since then, she has worked with various music bands in the city as a backing vocalist, something she now wants to change.
The Afro-Fusion artiste said being part of different groups like Creme Voices, Ecstacy and Outfit Band greatly benefitted her as it moulded her to be a strong, independent artiste.
“My journey started in 2013 when I was part of a gospel group, Creme Voices. This is the group which introduced me to the music industry. I then became a backing vocalist in different bands with the one I remember the most being Ecstacy. I also worked with the Outfit Band during my time as a session musician.
“I was one of the lead vocalists of a band called Roots alongside Luke Kamanga, Erastus Nleya, Sam Mabhena and Sydney Mutsinze, an experience which opened various avenues for me as I was approached by Jeys Marabini to be part of one of his productions and I also worked as a backing vocalist for Takesure Zamar Ncube for a while,” said Ashleigh Love.
On going solo, the 24-year-old who is with a band called Image Music said she is working on an album which she will use to show people her prowess as a solo artiste.
“I’ve been working on my own singles as well as an album as a solo artiste and I’m excited to say it’ll be ready for release in a few months,” she said.
She said the album will be a follow up to her six-track EP titled Birth of Love where she worked with a number of artistes that include soulful musician Thandy Dhlana and Black Lily.
The final year Bulawayo Polytechnic Tourism and Hospital Management student who also has songs with DJ Skaiva, Hwabaraty and Ricco (Vinnie King) was part of the house band for the inaugural Bulawayo Arts Awards and Skyz Metro FM awards.
Like all other artistes, Ashleigh Love said she has not been spared from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which has stalled her music recording as well as performances.
“Covid-19 affected me a lot as I couldn’t really work on my new music due to the subsequent lockdown. Not having a home studio was a big setback as well.
“On a more positive note though, Covid-19 was an eye opener as I was reminded of the importance of working on my music and pushing on instead of just sitting and grovelling while life progresses.” – @mthabisi_mthire.