WHILE many artistes are great at making hits in the studio, only a few have the irrefutable gift and ability to translate their form in the recording booth to the stage.
Many fans have been left shocked when their favourite artistes seem unable to bring life to a hit that had caught their ear when they had heard it the first time.
It takes a special breed of artistes to bring urgency and energy to a song that was made under a completely different set of circumstances in the studio where producers and sound engineers connive to bring out the crispest sound that may sometimes exaggerate an artiste’s ability.
In America, the likes of James Brown laid the foundation for the later stage dominance and theatrics of the likes of Michael Jackson and Prince with their elaborate dress sense and on stage theatrics.
Zimbabwe has had its fair share of lively stage legends, with the unique comedy and on stage antics of the late Safirio Madzikatire and Katarina standing as testament to what can be achieved with innovation on stage.
So who currently in Zimbabwe can carry the mettle and claim to be a gifted a performer outside the studio? There are many contenders and pretenders for this throne.
Age and illness may be catching up with Zimbabwe’s favourite superstar but at his peak, few artistes can stand toe to toe with a man who has made Tuku Musik a brand that is recognisable across the continent and beyond. Whether alongside his Black Spirits or on his own as he sometimes prefers nowadays, is still an agile performer capable of springing into exuberant dance without warning. With decades of experience, the guitar has become virtually an extension of his arm and it never seems to hinder him whenever he chooses to command his ageless limbs to attention.
Watching Winky D nowadays can be equated to an otherworldly experience as the man continues to ascend to levels that seem beyond the reach of mere mortals. Mic in hand, the Gafa preaches lyrical sermons to his attentive faithful who jump and lunge about as he does what he seems to have been born to do.
According to the star’s manager Jonathan Banda, Winky’s sole problem these days is choosing the right songs to perform from his extensive catalogue of hits although fan satisfaction is guaranteed before he even steps on stage.
When one watches a Clement Magwaza performance, they are left wondering whether the former Ndolwane dancer would have made an expert herdboy or choirmaster. Magwaza commands his dancers with the authority and aggression of the former while with the deftness of the latter as he makes sure they never cross their boundaries on stage.
In a few years he has become a favourite in the rural areas of Matabeleland North and South where most of his shows are held, while he has never disappointed when he strayed into Bulawayo’s urban jungle.
The songbird whose stock has risen considerably over the last few years is a force to reckon with on stage where she is the proverbial dynamite wrapped in a small package. Unafraid to flaunt skin while on the job, Ammara is one of the more provocative Zimbabwean female performers that have not been boxed in by the stereotype that female performers have to be “respectable” if they are to get the grudging respect of the country at large.