Vusa Mkhaya: The unparalleled musician, the unwittingly funny guy and the very reluctant iCrush yabantu!

The first thing he says when we tell him we are definitely crushing on him and would like to get to know him better  is that he is just a musician and not “iCrush yabantu”. So stand guided, he is officially iCrush yabantu. His sense of humour is unmatched, not to mention his humility. It’s hard not to chuckle at every second sentence of his. What comes to mind when you mention Vusa Mkhaya (Born Vusumuzi Mkhaya Ndlovu)  is his beautiful music as a solo artist and his offering in the award winning musical trio, Insingizi. If ever you’ve thought of Imbube going global, then you’d know Vusa Mkhaya has been on the forefront of “Imbube to the world”. All it takes is one track to fall in love with his soulful voice. His albums, The Spirit of Ubuntu, Vocalism and Manyanyatha give so much soul and so much more stil. A premium offering of the Imbube genre.

The decision to walk away from Zimbabwe- what informed it?

I can´t say I walked away from Zimbabwe because I am still a part of the Zimbabwean story and the Arts and culture scene. We started touring in the mid 90s and then decided to study music in Austria and also practice our craft from there. .

How far back does your love story with imbube go?

My love story with imbube goes back to the late 80s when I started singing in the scripture union choir at school and then formed my own imbube group whilst still there. I then joined insingizi to do it professionally in 1991.

Imbube is a sound that is very distinctly African. How has it been welcomed in the diaspora?

The imbube sound has been well received in the diaspora because it´s different from the sounds most people are used to hearing. One mistake some of our artists make is to change their sound trying to fit in, instead of staying true to who they are and doing what they know best.

As an artist in the diaspora, have you ever thought about coming back to practice your craft in Zimbabwe?

I am always in Zimbabwe and I work a lot with artists in Zimbabwe. That´s why I said “I can´t say I walked away” from Zimbabwe. I think that at this stage, I can practice my craft whereever I want even if I “move back” to Zimbabwe and I am grateful for that.

 Covid-19 has been a nightmare for artists across the world. What has your experience been like an artist during the pandemic?

It was not easy for most of us especially touring artists. This was my first time to be in one place for almost 10 months  in the last 15 years. I used the time to learn a lot of studio technics, vocal capturing, mixing etc. I also had time to write a lot of music and create new concepts and ideas.

You are finally going back on the road to tour in the coming weeks. What are you most excited about?

I am excited to be out there and performing. Interacting with people, discovering new places, towns, cities. Sampling food and making new friends on the road. Meeting fans who waited for 10 plus months for us to get back on stage.

 You are one of the few artists who have really managed to establish yourself in the diaspora. How has that journey been?

It has been hard but I am grateful for all the lessons learnt along the way. There were times I doubted myself but I managed to lift myself up and keep walking. Music Business is not for the faint hearted. People see the glitz and the glamour from artists onstage and on social media but they don´t know, behind all that there is hard work, blood, sweat and tears.

You’ve worked with a lot of young musicians of late. Who’s on your “collaborate with” list?

I have worked with a lot of young musicians and I am yet to work with more. I don´t have a list but if any artist approaches me and the vibe is correct we work.

You’re on the forefront of supporting local artists. How best do you think people can support local?

I think people can support local by helping artists grow their brands. We all cannot like the same art or vibe to the same music but we can share and help the artists grow their organic fan base and brands by retweeting their posts, sharing their links, flyers for events etc. It´s not about money all the time.

You like to keep your private life private and we appreciate that. But we have to ask, sithungise yini kumbe sime kancane (should we get in touch with our tailors for some wedding outfits or should we wait)?

You said it well. I like to keep my private life private so nxa lithungisa zithungiseleni ngoba lifuna ukuthungisa not because of me☺  (if you want to get an outfit made, do it because you want to not because of me)

Outside of music what are your other interests?

Photography, reading and writing music for other artists. I also collect Art

Your #sdindibars have been quite the hit. Any chance you might consider comedy?

I think I should leave comedy to comedians. I don´t think I am funny, kodwa I might convert my #Sdindibars to some interesting project one day.

 

By: Thandie Nyoni

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