Dr. Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits.
Dr. Oliver Mtukudzi is a Zimbabwean musician, songwriter, philanthropist, human rights activist and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the Southern African region. His musical journey began in 1977 when he formed the band Wagon Wheels alongside fellow Zimbabwean Thomas Mapfumo. Today, with 65 albums under his belt, Mtukudzi is regarded as Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally acclaimed cultural icon of all time. He has graced the cover of Time magazine and has received three honorary degrees including his most recent Doctorate of Philosophy in Ethnomusicology and Choreography for his contribution to the music industry in Zimbabwe.
Gifted with a deep, husky voice and a talent for writing songs that reflect on the daily life and struggles of the people of his homeland, Oliver Mtukudzi or “Tuku” as he is affectionately known by his fans, is one of Zimbabwe's greatest artists. His blending of Southern African music traditions, including mbira, mbaqanga, jit, and the traditional drumming styles of the Korekore, with pan-African influences and cosmopolitan pop forms, has created such a unique sound that it has been respectfully dubbed "Tuku music." Tuku’s quicksilver guitar work, keen ear for melody, and evocative voice have made Tuku a household name across Southern Africa, as well as across Europe and North America, thanks in part to major releases of his work in the 1990s and 2000s. His latest album, Eheka! Nhai Yahwe (Enjoy My Dear Friend!) with his band, the Blacks Spirits, is 65th!
World music enthusiast in north America were first introduced to Mtukudzi in 1999 when his album Tuku Music was released on the Putumayo World Music label and he toured the United States and Canada, along with Taj Mahal, Toumani Diabate and Baaba Maal as part of Africa Fete 1999. Since then Tuku has performed to large audiences across North America, Europe and Australia, as well as sold out shows across the African continent.
Talking about his music, Tuku says “The beauty of the Shona language [the majority vernacular language in Zimbabwe] is that it is endowed with all these rich idioms and metaphor… and the beauty of art is that you can use the power of language to craft particular meaning without necessarily giving it away. So, I use the beauty of Shona to communicate in my own way and people get the message." To this day, Oliver incorporates the aspect of self-discipline and tolerance in his repertoires. He is emotional about the socio-cultural norms and principles that govern the Shona traditional way of life, particularly the respect for the next person.
Parade referred to Mtukudzi as "one of the few genuine innovators on the Zimbabwean music scene," Prize Beat proclaimed that "his music has been instrumental in strengthening our freedom, socially, politically, and economically." Bonnie Raitt, who has recorded several of his songs, explained, “the juxtaposition of what Mtukudzi sings about and his raw, imploring vocal reminds me of Otis Redding, Toots Hibbert, and some of my favorite reggae, an odd pairing of agonizing, thorny lyrics over basically lighthearted music. To try to explain it is like asking somebody why they love chocolate!”
Date and Time
CEPAC California Education and Performing Arts Center
pin CEPAC California Education and Performing Arts 11255 Central Ave Ontario, Ca 91762
11255 Central Ave Ontario
Ontario, Ca 91762