Bongani Ndlovu, Online Reporter
IMBUBE music proponent Blessing Nqo is set to release his fourth album, Impilo Iyakija this Friday, which touches on themes of self-confidence, Love, respect and the concept of Ubuntu.
The 15-track album features musicians from Zimbabwe such as Nkwali, Vusa Mkhaya and Future Love and Bibiane Zimba (Austria, Kenia) Karim Sanou, Djakali Kone (Burkina Faso) and Nikolaus Gruenbichler (Austria).
To most Imbube music lovers who have followed the genre’s journey from as early as the formation of the “Umfolosi Omnyama” ensemble, the name Blessings Nqo Nkomo is not new to their ears.
The Austrian based musician said he was excited to be releasing his fourth album along with a music video for the track, Love is all you need.
“This is my fourth full-length studio album release that was recorded during lockdown at my music studio here in Austria and also in South Africa at Bethline studios. The album comprises songs in Ndebele, English and French. It is a 15-track album and it touches on themes of self-confidence, Love, respect and the concept of Ubuntu. I am glad to announce I will be releasing it together with a video to one of my tracks on the 30th of this month (July)”- Blessings Nqo.
He said on instrumentals he engaged the skills of Mthabisi Moyo at Bethline studios, who played and recorded all instruments except for the Kora, talking drum and percussions.
“The tracks to look forward to, include the album titled track “Impilo Iyajika, Umendo, Richmen, Ungangitshiyi and Mama’s song, amongst other Afro-fused songs. My experiments with ethnocentric sounds are a true testimony of a musician who has been in the industry for close to three decades, with two of those decades having been on an international platform. With his vast acappella background, submerged in Afro-Jazz beats, this album promises to be a hit both locally and abroad,” said Blessings Nqo.
To date, Blessings Nqo has released three albums namely “Isimanje manje” (2001) which was released in Bulawayo by Moonlight Studios, “Nomathemba” (2003) which was released by Ingwe studios, and “Mbube and Gospel Music from Southern Africa” (2009) which was released by ARC Music.
Born Blessings Nqo Nkomo, in the city of Bulawayo, Blessings Nqo spent a huge part of his childhood at his rural village in Matobo, where his passion for music was ignited. Whilst doing his primary school, Blessings Nqo decided to join the school choir not only as a hobby but as a potential career path.
Already he was inspired by his uncle Thomecki Dube, an internationally acclaimed vocalist from the world renowned imbube ensemble, Black Umfolosi. Coming of age, Blessings Nqo moved to Bulawayo where he attended Sobukhazi High School in Mzilikazi. It was there in 1994 where he joined Insingizi formerly known as Insingizi Emnyama.
A year from then his life would make a turn and his childhood dream of making a living off music would be realised. In 1995 Insingizi Emnyama broke through, touring Austria, Slovenia and Denmark to mention a few countries. In 1997 the group composed of Blessings Nqo, Dumisani “Ramadu Moyo” and Vusa Mkhaya settled in Austria where they studied music. This was where Blessings Nqo studied piano and drums and has resided since then.
In 2014 he founded a successful music project called Black Messengers Afro Band, a music group that mixes pop and traditional music from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Congo and Madagascar. This project has been presented to places as far as New York, Austria etc. In 2017 he was a co-founder of the band Izethekeli which plays a mixture of folk and Imbube music. Under these projects, Blessings Nqo has worked with quite a number of international artistes such as the blues legend Hans Theessink, Black Moses Ngwenya, Roland Guggenbichler, and many more.
Blessings Nqo is also one of the founders of the amazing group MoZuluArt that was formed in 2005, since the formation of the group they have toured over 20 European countries and also performed in New York, Senegal, Lebanon and South Africa.
A vocalist, instrumentalist, composer and producer in his own right, this musical legend is also a cultural promoter. In 2010 Blessings Nqo founded Roots Music from Southern Africa Festival. The goal of the festival is to promote intercultural dialogue between Southern African artistes and European artistes and create more possibilities and interlinkages with other world music festivals. Since the formation of the festival Blessings Nqo has invited many different artistes from Zimbabwe and South Africa such as (Black Moses Ngwenya and Blessings Nqo band 2010 and 2011) Jeys Marabini (2012 and 2013) Tshwalabenyoni and Virginia Mukwesha (2014) Blessings Chimanga and Zimboita (2015), Vusa Mkhaya and Nobuntu (2016). – @bonganinkunzi