Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
When Erick Hoff, a Norwegian music director first visited Zimbabwe in 2017, he was a guest at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa).
He had been engaged in musical projects in South Africa, Malawi and Namibia among other countries and having heard the buzz about sungura and Zimbabwean music in general, he visited the country to have an appreciation.
His encounter at Hifa, what used to be the country’s biggest festival, presented him with a great opportunity to get one or two sungura CDs before he researched further about the genre’s artistes. The research left him with a soft spot for musicians like Alick Macheso, Nicholas Zacharia, the late John Chibadura, Oliver Mtukudzi and Tongai Moyo among others.
Later that year, Hoff who later rechristened himself to “Eriki” would appear on stage with Sungura ace Macheso and Madzibaba. The two highly talented musicians then took Eriki on board for a few lessons on how to play the guitar which he would go on to play with aplomb when he shared the stage with them.
Back home in Norway, he had already assembled his own sungura inspired outfit which was playing Zimbabwean music in that country.
And in November 2019, Eriki shocked all and sundry when he dropped his first sungura single titled Roller Coaster, which has become a hit on local radio and television stations. The single which he recorded with the assistance of some locals, recorded 100 000 views on YouTube during its first week.
It will be part of an eight-track album which the artiste is planning to drop later this year.
“I’m recording the album here in Norway. I’d have wanted to do the project in Zimbabwe, but due to travel restrictions, it’s impossible. It’s however my hope to have the sungura album ready by Christmas,” he said.
The album will also feature some local artistes whom he refused to mention as he wants it to be a surprise.
According to Eriki, sungura did not take time to charm him.
“During the time when I was working with other musicians in Zimbabwe’s neighbouring countries, I always heard about sungura music. So when I finally came to Zimbabwe, it did not take much convincing. I just fell in love with the music,” said Eriki.
The genre’s music arrangement and the harmony in instruments was too much to resist for the Norwegian.
“I was so fascinated by the whole band, how they play together like people riding horses. I like the interlocking of guitars. I enjoyed sungura especially the drum sound and I fell in love with it,” he said.
So deep in love has Eriki fallen in love with sungura music that he intends to assemble his own band in Zimbabwe.
“When the travel restrictions are lifted, I want to set base in Zimbabwe. I want to set up my sungura band there and we’ll conduct auditions although I already have some names,” he said.
Eriki who is driven by the zeal to market Zimbabwean music across the globe, has become a Zimbabwean music ambassador.
“I want to make sure that Zimbabwean music is known across the globe so I try as much to make sure that I play sungura during live shows in Norway so I can pay tribute to music gurus like Macheso, Tuku, Tongai Moyo and Chibadura,” said the soft-spoken artiste.