Melissa Mpofu, Showbiz Editor
AUSTRALIA-BASED singer-songwriter and record producer, Audius Mtawarira who has been credited for mentoring BET-nominated musician Shasha during the early stages of her career, has said this is just the beginning of more bigger things to come as her dedication and humility is definitely going to take her places.
Mtawarira who was excited about his product’s achievement when she was announced as the first Zimbabwean to be nominated for a BET Award last week, heaped praises on the South Africa-based artiste saying from the first time he saw her, he was confident that she was destined for greatness.
And what has made him even more proud is that she has remained humble and is applying all that he taught her.
Chronicle Showbiz Editor Melissa Mpofu (MM) caught up with Audius Mtawarira (AM) during the week and below is the interview.
MM: What did you think about Shasha (musically) when you were first introduced to her?
AM: When I first met Shasha, she was definitely a talented young lady who showed all the signs of an artiste in the making. She was such a great singer, I could just hear it in her voice so I was attracted to her musicality. She was dedicated to her craft, always practising and had an obsession with her career in music.
I was also drawn to her plight (Shasha had been disowned by her parents for pursuing music career and was in Harare to chase her dream) simply because I could see what she was up against and I was sympathetic to her circumstances. I really wanted to assist in any way possible to ensure she continues in her path and journey.
MM: What role did you play in her music career?
AM: It was a primary role, she was emerging in confidence and she was definitely showing all the signs of being a true artiste. I’d like to believe I was a good mentor to Shasha as far as keeping her focused on what she needed to be doing in order to fine tune her talent. Among the things I taught her was making sure she was media savvy, comfortable in front of the camera, microphone in the studio and comfortable with her own self-expression as an artiste and individual. These things seem trivial, but they’re pretty intense things to grasp especially when someone doesn’t know what the industry is about. I always told her that “when the time comes, you want to be ready” and I’m pleased she took these things to heart because when the time came, she was ready.
From a formal capacity, we took Shasha around radio stations where we introduced her and she collaborated with several artistes including Cal_Vin. She also did several writings. We did a lot of tracks almost every week just to get her to come to her own. It’s when she went to South Africa that she blossomed and met the right contacts that got her across the line.
I did use some of my contacts as somebody that had been in Australia and managed to get her a link at Universal Publishing in South Africa which I believe spawned her interest from different and relevant individuals in SA.
I’m not taking credit for her talent. Shasha was always going to be an iconic musician and I’m actually honoured to have been part of that process in mentoring and preparing her for some of the things she was going to be faced with later on. All of which, I never doubted she had the strength to take care of, so I’m really confident in her career and proud of what she has achieved.
MM: How was it working with her?
AM: It was very easy. She’s a very honest, God-fearing and dedicated artiste. She takes herself and musicality seriously and everybody around her with respect. She’s never guarded her willingness to learn and accepts realities of what she’s going through, which made it easy. I wasn’t dealing with somebody who had an ego or was too big for her boots.
She was very humble and that humility really made our working relationship great. Also, I feel that’s been a contributing factor to her relationship with the team in South Africa because it really does transfer when you see how she’s become a darling for that industry (queen of Amapiano). You can see there is a lot of endearment when it comes to Shasha and that’s because she’s a humble soul who is not egotistical.
MM: Did you think she would one day get nominated for an international award?
AM: I believe Shasha will go on to win an international award. It was actually what drew me the most to her talent. She didn’t necessarily fit into the standard Zimbabwean artistes’ box. She really stood out in her vocal expression. Emotively as a musician, she didn’t sound localised as much as she sounded international to me. I’ve been working with a lot of international artistes and I was pleased when she showcased her material.
She sounded international so I’m not surprised at all that she’s reached this height. I believe she has the capacity to reach the highest of heights when it comes to being competitive in the international music scene.
MM: What do you think can be done in order for Zimbabwe to expose more artistes such as Shasha?
AM: We need to start taking ourselves more seriously. What’s in your backyard is always going to seem trivial and what’s in someone else’s plate is always naturally going to appear better and worthy of more respect when it’s actually not the case at all. If we were to take our individuality more seriously and support local artistes ourselves, whether they’re in Zimbabwe or abroad, then I think we’ll start to win as far as being able to expose our own artistes to the rest of the world is concerned.
The territory in Zimbabwe is not a lucrative one, it needs individuals in Zimbabwe to garner that support to make sure that the individuals that are doing it are well supported emotionally through to the corporates and especially the media.
MM: Which artiste in Zimbabwe stands out for you currently and why?
AM: Shasha is my favourite at the moment for obvious reasons. I feel like a father to her as I feel like I jumped on board with her plight and feel happy as a father. Tammy Moyo is a definite contender for an artiste that’s going to show her dynamic ability. I managed to work with her very briefly when I was in Zimbabwe and in that short time, I got to understand her musicality. She’s amazing so I’m expecting the world from her just as I did from Shasha.
Beyond that, the obvious artiste that I’ve always had respect for is Takura who I feel is amazing. Bryan K, Shashl, Adrian Tate, to mention a few are also great artistes. I think Zimbabwe has so much to offer and beyond the up-and-coming artistes, the iconic musicians Jah Prayzah and Winky D would be my two top favourites as artistes who are representing the country well in terms of dynamic artistry.