Of grand entrances and high sounding nothings
“Next to the word of God, the noble art of music is one of the greatest treasures in the world.”
These are the words of Martin Luther , a good summary of the importance of music in the existence of human kind.
Over the years, people have been exposed to a lot of music, in its different elements and forms, some that became attached to humans.
The evolution of the music industry in Zimbabwe has ushered in a number of artistes and on the long list is a group whose music performed a successful courtship process on our buds.
That said, music fans have also been at the mercy of chancers who seem to have been fooled by their money and echoes when they sing in showers quickly declaring themselves musicians only to be huge flops.
Just as they stepped onto the scene many have disappeared leaving us all to wonder – a true one night stand.
One question that any rookie dreads in journalism school is, are journalist born or made. It seems the same has also been questioned about artistes.
April 15, 2016 will definitely go down in history as one of the biggest launches ever witnessed.
Alex Sports Club was the venue where then unknown musician Sam Dondo was set to be introduced by the “BIG 5”.
Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, Alick Macheso, Sulumani Chimbetu, Winky D, Jah Prayzah, Peter Moyo and Lady Storm all joined in the knighting the rookie .
Many endorsed the artiste but as time would tell, it was just a case of celebrating the kill before pulling the trigger.
Despite the much publicised grand entrance it seems all it was just a colorful but noisy vessel.
Like that baby, who had the most expensive baby welcome, showered gifts only to grow up a major disappointment, Dondo has remained in the musical wilderness.
The question now is who is fooling who, or rather who fooled who?
Dondo must be a confused man; aura of borrowed crowds that greeted him on his grand entrance as opposed to the reality that haunts him now.
Thousands attended the Alex Sports Club affair and Dondo could have thought at that moment he had struck gold but it seems someone was fooled.
Either the multitudes of fans that came to witness the “introduction” or the Sam himself who was fooled by the fans
Though he has bulldozed himself onto some big stages, he has failed to hold his own as a performer and apart from a few road shows he has failed to attract even a tenth of the numbers that flocked his launch.
By now Dondo has surely learnt that the music industry is unforgiving and fans are not as gullible.
Fans do not care about the cosmetic presentation but rather what is presented for their pleasure, after all the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Even at the launch Sam failed to connect with the audience, a problem that still ruins his performances to date.
Most fans seem not care when or where Sam Dondo is performing, yet still listen to his music.
History is a cruel judge, and some say it has a way of repeating itself.
Sam should have done his research well. The story of that one artiste who enters the scene surrounding himself with the best but still goes to be a flop has been told too many a time.
In 2012 Energy Mutodi flexed his financial muscles and lured bassist Spencer Khumulani, Gift “Shiga Shiga” Katulika, Gaison Sixpense, and Innocent Mjintu to be part of what was to be called Mutodi Stars.
Mutodi was even successful in recording a track with sungura ace Alick Macheso, but for the entire buzz, the star never shined even despite the somewhat good music he produced.
His business dealings were brought into the fray and the public judge did not forgive him.
Sam Dondo took the tired idea even further.
Beatrice Matewere and Dorcas Kambami were the only fresh faces in the band joining stars like producer/keyboardist Munya Viya; drummer Freedom Manatsa; acoustic guitar player Tatenda Viya; bassist Lithiens Musoni, lead guitarist Trust Samende and Evidence “Generator” Mudzingo made up the band.
The band has since changed, and the artiste has hired three managers in a space of one year.
Allegations of failure to pay and gross unprofessionalism have reportedly resulted in most seasoned members leaving the band.
Recent reports indicate that the artiste abandoned his band at a local hotel leaving them without transport allowances.
Dondo was also reported to have fired key members Generator, Musoni and Viya in July 2016 accusing them of being “big-headed” before mending relations with some of the artistes.
The actions have not helped him in anyway but have only tainted the already struggling outfit.
The debut album also saw expert input from Keith Farquarson, Sulumani Chimbetu and Jah Prayzah but to no joy for the lanky musician.
Dondo who is believed to be bankrolled by businessman and brother Thompson Dondo should by now know that money cannot buy the aesthetics of his trade. They are worked for and when one does not make the grade, the consumer is ruthless.
The music industry might be in dire need of sponsorship, but the brotherly partnership has not recorded much success to date.
One thing of note is that there are no shortcuts in the music industry.
Dondo jumped the gun; maybe with such a financial backing he should have taken time to learn as from established artistes.
He should have started at the back, performing as a supporting act for leading artistes; he would have taken the time to be natured. Maybe, just maybe, it would have worked.
That is the route that many artistes took. Even established artistes like Tuku all started little and in the process they gained the experience that has proven to be valuable to date.
Working with established musicians as you grow allows you to learn on the job and most importantly one would understand how to run affairs.
Skills of the trade like how to connect with fans can only be mastered from starting off with smaller audiences that one can engage even at a personal level and one would then reflect and improve.
The industry is full of vultures. Cruel as it may be, tales of promoters running off with payments are unfortunate but they give you an understanding of the industry and one can learn and improve.
In the jungles of the music industry, Dondo should now know that it was better to start off as a rat rather than an elephant.
He started off big, and people had expectation that he has failed to match.
Showbiz needs money but money is not showbiz, music fans are worried about the product more than anything else.
For a guy who was introduced with such glitz, his career is all gloom.
A lot was said when he entered the scene and it was a grand expensive affair but like they say, TALK IS CHEAP, MONEY BUYS WHISKY BUT NEVER TALENT!
It was Shakespeare who said: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” But it remains unclear whether Dondo will rescue himself and at least maintain the greatness thrust upon him for if not; it is is just but soap in the rain.