THIS IS HER STORY. MAKING HERSTORY
There are the select few who need no introduction. Whose body of work speaks for who they are without them having to say a word. Our woman making HerStory this week is a member of this elite club. You cannot speak of music, art and the creative industry in Zimbabwe and not speak of her, or worse still, not know who she is. One of the pioneers of the Urban Grooves era and with a voice that is a true national treasure, we first met this soulful crooner when she broke onto the scene with her debut album, Tisaparadzane, in 2002, and from the moment we were introduced to those soulful notes, we fell deeply in love; with her; with her music; and with our own womanhood. Her music became the soundtrack to our often tumultuous and always intense stories of love, heartbreak and life. 6 albums later, with a Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Women in Enterprise Award for her notable contribution to Zimbabwe’s Arts and Culture under her belt, her voice and her music continue to stir the soul and to speak to our experiences. But impressive as her music portfolio is, there is more to this powerhouse than just her voice and her music. With a degree in Economics, a Masters in Business Administration, several years of experience in strategy at top management levels in several industry sectors, and as a true creative by nature, she now has her entrepreneurial hat firmly on, running a highly successful Digital Marketing Agency that she co-owns with her friends. And now, she steps into the next chapter of her life and celebrates her 40th Birthday this November, fully and truly her own woman; wiser, stronger, bolder, happier and living for no-one else but herself. And armed with some invaluable lessons from her journey to now, she is ready, as only she has always known exactly how to do, to take the world by storm. A storm that is packing quite a punch we must say, including a new skincare range on the way; a book in the works, and the fulfilment of a lifelong passion to motivate and inspire as a life coach and motivational speaker.
As we brace ourselves for the storm that’s brewing, allow us to introduce you to the force that is Plaxedes Wenyika, Award Winning Superstar, Businesswoman, Motivator, Champion for Women, and an all Round Fierce and Fearless Female! We celebrate the phenomenal woman she is, the power of her story, and her truly remarkable journey to “Becoming Plaxedes Wenyika”!
The Early Years
You as a young girl. How would the people close to you describe you then?
As a happy, intelligent, confident girl.
What were the BIG dreams and aspirations?
I wanted to be a lawyer, loved music, wanted to be a singer and somehow inspire people with positivity. I LOVED Oprah.
And what and who influenced those dreams?
My grandma and my mum. My grandmother was a choir leader at her church and because I loved music, I used to go there with her a lot and she’d always take out her hymnbook and we’d sing a lot together. So, in essence, she really is the person who cultivated my love for music. As for my mum, up till now, as a grown arse woman, every show of mine, if she is in Zim, she will be there, in the front row, embarrassing me, well I used to think it was embarrassing then, singing line for line, and it’s like ‘Ok fine, we get it mum, now can the real fans please show up.” But that is the kind of mum she is. She has always believed in me. I remember we would have conversations sitting at home watching television when I was younger, and she would always tell me how much better I was than the people who were singing then. I think everyone needs that nudge and that person who believes in them and she honestly was that catalyst for me. As much as I had the experience of singing and the grooming, in terms of self-belief and how far I went, I owe it all to my mum.
Was there an ‘Aha’ Moment for you when you realized that music was not just a hobby or passion but something bigger?
I think there were a series of moments and not one particular moment. You see glimpses of who you can be along your journey. I started writing as early as Form 1. I used to enjoy singing in high school; I was in all these choirs and entered a lot of competitions which I always won. When I got to University, I still had this thing that drove me to want to pursue music, so I’d hang around guys doing music. I even ended up rapping. I just felt I had a calling to do music. I knew I loved music, I just didn’t realise then that I could do great things with it. When I finally went into the studio, my Producer then, Delani Makhalima, is the one who now said to me ‘You can really sing, why are you rapping?” and that’s when the journey really took off I guess. But even then, it wasn’t about blowing up for me, it was just about loving music and wanting to do it well. I just wanted to write, to make beautiful music and for people to hear my music. I wanted to make music that made people fall in love, that made people feel good when they were feeling down. I grew up in the era of Whitney Houston and she was my role model when it comes to music. Songs like, ‘One Moment in Time’ and ‘I will Always Love you’ … I knew that was the kind of music I wanted to make and that’s who and what I became because of those influences.
What does music mean to you?
Music cleanses my soul. It calms me. There’s a saying that goes, “Music says the things that can’t be uttered.” Sometimes, when you’re in pain, you feel like no-one else in the world gets it and then a sad love song comes on and it’s like ‘Oh my God, they totally get it’. And it’s exactly the same feeling when you’re ecstatically happy. You will always find songs that completely relate. Music is a very spiritual thing for me. It’s a spiritual communication of emotions. You feel closer to God through music. Because we’re spiritual beings. We are spirits. And music is our way of communicating at a deeper level.
How does a day in your life look like today?
I wake up at 4.30am, go to the gym at 5 till 6, then I do the school run, I go to work at my digital agency, then at the end of the day it’s school run, homework, me time, bed and repeat.
And where does the music fit into all this?
Music is my passion and when I feel inspired to do something then yes, I definitely do. But even though I’m known for my music, it is not all that I am. It’s a part of me, an important part, but on a day to day it’s not the core focus. There is the Digital Agency that I run. I’m also currently working on a skincare range and on my plans to go into motivational speaking. So I’m working on developing all these other bits of me as well. The reality is, in this country, unless you’re really doing music 24/7 every single day, it’s hard to make a living on it. I look at myself going onto 40 (years) and I don’t want to be doing corporate functions every other day. I want the choice to do music as and when I am motivated and inspired to. I don’t want to put myself in a position where I can’t live the life I want for myself. I want to experience it all. I want to travel. I want to leave my children an inheritance. I want to buy houses for them. I want to show them their mama can do it.
Why do you get up in the morning to do what you do? What motivates you?
The passion to live my best life, realising it comes around only once. I am motivated by my children. l want to live my best life as authentically as l can for them. I want them to live life unafraid to be themselves or to take risks. To celebrate their uniqueness and giftings. Our motto is “work hard and play hard”.
And what’s the most fulfilling part of doing it all for you?
Seeing my kids thriving and being themselves.
What are some of the things you want to change, or wish were different?
I wish l had said no earlier, more firmly and more frequently like l do now, to things that don’t work or resonate with me. If l could change something it would be that women would be more supportive, kinder and honest with each other and with younger women about our experiences. That way the narrative and strength of the Zimbabwean woman would be different in the social context. We need to be honest about our experiences. Because if we aren’t, the narrative then becomes deceptive. By nature, there’s just something about us as human beings that wants to win and show the best of ourselves and so we end up living these lies and perpetuating something that none of us can live up to.
What’s the next big thing for you? What new projects or prospects are cooking up in the pipeline?
I’m launching a skincare range for women soon. I’ve never liked this notion of ‘vanhu vanogeza’ referencing certain people. There is nothing like that. Anyone and everyone can be beautiful. There are certain ingredients or certain things that people use to get beautiful skin, that for some weird reason some people think should be kept secret. As if to say if another woman also gets beautiful skin it’s a horrible thing and you should be the only beauty queen in the room. That’s not right. We can all shine. And I want women to feel good. All women. And to give women confidence. That’s why I also want to get into life coaching and motivational speaking. There’s too much negativity in the world, especially on social media, and people can be so nasty. I’m all about happiness and reminding people that they can start again. I’m so passionate about this, especially for women. Because sometimes we overlook just how challenging being a woman can be, having to go through motherhood, marriage, career, all of these things. But at the same time, I also don’t like playing victim. We need to own our story. And our parts in our story. To say ‘Ok, that was me. I could have done better.’ or ‘I should have spoken up.’ Things like that. For me that is the movement. I just want happy people. I want to spread happiness and goodness…and love. Life is good! You just need to be in control of it.
How would those close to you describe you today?
Fun, fearless and a motivator.
Work, Life, Play and Everything in between? How do you juggle and manage it all?
By being fully present in each moment, so you don’t feel bad when it’s time to play. I have great support and l ask for help when l can’t manage. Me time is a must for that balance. My family plays a very important role in my life, they have been with me through the highs and lows. They are my safe place and compass.
How do you get away from all the noise when you need to?
I make time for my favourite activities. I love soaking in water after a long day, or binge-watching series’. Sometimes it’s a night out dancing.
Our Conversation with Plaxedes continues in Reflections. Click the link below…