UManyanyatha – Songs from the Soul of Zimbabwe
Release date: 26th June 2020
Cat ID: EUCD2908
‘If he takes off his cap to kiss you... he’s a keeper’ smiles Vusa Mkhaya in a blazer suit and baseball hat, addressing a captivated audience at Cuvilliés Theatre, Munich.
It’s this earnest humour honeyed by a mellifluous voice that has helped garner Vusa’s doting fanbase, from Zimbabwe’s city of blue skies, Bulawayo, to opulent concert halls in old-town Vienna.
UManyanyatha, his third solo album, puts Vusa’s ‘ favourite instrument’ - the human voice - centre stage again. Rooted in Southern African tradition, the warmth of solo vocals and imbube harmonies groove to the colourful pattern of modern instrumentation.
The opening choral track Mayibabo sets the scene with a heartfelt tribute to Vusa’s inspiration, his grandmother: ‘Though she had no formal education she was an amazingly intelligent woman... She taught me a lot. I am forever grateful for her teachings’.
Track 4 Africa’s rhythmic buoyancy carries messages of hope and unity for the people, sung in English: ‘Hold on, Africa, one day everything is going to be alright. So many things are said about you. We love you the way you are. One day you will smile. Hold on, my Africa!’
Ubuntu layers Vusa’s melodic vocals over piano, bass-riffs and evocative harmonies. The wholesome lyrics are poignant against a song that is both delicate and resounding in its message: ‘I am who I am because of my history and background. We must always be proud of who we are, where we come from’.
Uthando (Love) takes a cheerful turn with percussion and guitar lending a summery vibe to soft, breezy vocals.
Vusa’s artistry is driven by an unquenchable thirst for sound. At the onset of his professional career he ventured from Zimbabwe to Vienna with his a cappella group Insingizi, where he discovered a deeper connection to classical, jazz and the many musical avenues the city had to offer. He has since enjoyed fusing these styles with his own music. He has worked with a wide range of musicians and productions, amassing a hugely impressive body of work. ‘I have some friends that inspire me to do better and to be always hungry for knowledge. I like learning, I like discoveries.’
Vusa has pushed the boundaries of world music with an ongoing soul-search inspired by life’s questions. His ability to communicate his journey so beautifully through song is what gives him his signature sound. ‘Art is a spiritual necessity. You have more inside you than you ever thought. All you need is to put yourself out there and see where the journey takes you.’