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Up your game, Zim young artistes urged

Norman Tapambwa

TALENTED bass guitarist-cum-music producer Norman Tapambwa has challenged the youth to build their musical creativity by learning and understanding local music traditions to help them come up with universally-celebrated music.

Tapambwa, who hails from Chitungwiza, was propelled into the limelight by his Mbama Yerudo music album, featuring the hit song Ziso, which triggered in him a deep interest in polishing up and recording traditional and sungura music.

Tapambwa, renowned for his amazing bass strumming prowess in secular music, is also quite a household name in gospel music cycles.

His rich experience and diverse talent gave him leads to start private tutorials in bass and lead guitars and he has over the years been a role model for many after he made a record series of distinctions in his studies at Zimbabwe College of Music.

He was part of the industrious class of 2001 to 2002 that comprised the likes of Dudu Manhenga and Clive Mono Mukundu, among others.

In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style correspondent Tendai Sauta at his Live Music International Recording Studios, Tapambwa shared his long journey into music and shared a lot of inspirational insights that the youth and established musicians can tap into.

Who is Norman Tapambwa?

My name is Norman Tapambwa and I am from Mhondoro. I am a producer, an artiste, part-time music teacher and now a first year bachelor of ethnomusicology student at Zimbabwe College of Music. I did a two-year national certificate in music at the Zimbabwe College of Music.

Invitation into music industry

It runs in the family. I played home-made banjos, up until I got the real touch of electric instruments. Thereafter, I played for bands like Legal Lions, Paul Mpofu, Mitchell Jambo and Joseph Garakara, before turning into gospel music whereby I had a stint with Elias Musakwa’s Ngaavongwe and Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave at the peak of what could be called the gospel music era.

I joined Gramma Records in 2003 as an engineer and left in 2012 to pursue other interests. At Gramma Records I worked as a sound engineer and I was promoted after a performance appraisals to become a producer-engineer in 2005.

I worked with Garakara, Beatar Mangethe, Allan Chimbetu and Zvakavapano-Mashavave, among others.

Favourite instruments

I am popular as a bass guitarist and for the past few years I have been playing the lead guitar.

Observations on today’s Zimbabwean music

What makes music rich is the effort that the musician applies to perfect their art. Music instruments like keyboards and synthesisers are user-friendly, but may not supplant the role of already established treasured niche produced by guitars.

Keyboards need a lot of practice and there is need to work on blending in addition to working on a style’s perfection for it to appeal to the audience. Good and well-arranged music lasts longer on the market, be it dancehall, hip hop or sungura.

These days people are rushing to make a name. I encourage musicians to perfect their music first before getting it recorded.

Criterion for selecting artistes

I mostly work with artistes who play live music instruments such as guitars, keyboards and drums; that is where my experience is.

Music technology

Music technology infiltrated us gradually and there was no proper teaching of music technology. We are in the computer generation and people opt for available user-friendly music samples. There are lots of gaps in the teaching, sampling and arrangement of Zimbabwean music traditions.

Most youths opt for Western music loops because they are spoiled for choice from online archives. Zimdancehall and urban grooves were all created from usage of loops, with some of the music scooping awards and lasting. It is regrettable that some music never gets noticed because of airplay restrictions. I am fully conversant with both digital recording devices and music recording software.

Live Music International Recording Studios

This is my own innovation and I have successfully worked with Liversy Matamba and Innocent Mpofu on the COVID-19 jingles which brought together many musicians and my own project Munhu Unhu as well as my wife’s Rugare Mushosho.

Online spaces

Sungura musicians are still lagging behind in the usage of social media platforms.  There is need to orientate them on how to effectively use online spaces. Sungura musicians now have their music arranged to fit into online demands.


I wish to establish a music school to teach a broad curriculum of music theory and practice.

Parting note

Forward ever and backward never. Musicians should take pride in perfecting their musical works in order for them to gain maximum sales and the benefits that come with it.

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