Monday, May 07, 2007


The Collaboration's Urombo - Zimbabwe

It is my pleasure to be able to provide another installment from Stevie Sparx, our Zimbabwean music man, regarding a group that I touched briefly on before, The Collaboration. But I will let Steve explain more:

It was nearly 3 years ago that, with a rapidly deteriorating economy in Zimbabwe, and the flight of performing artists out of the country, we decided to bring together what might be called “the best of the rest” and look for new ways to enhance the music biz in Zim and find ways to promote our music to as close to an international level as possible.

Our first year was spent preparing material for a project under the banner “The Collaboration” - each member of the group is basically aligned to their own band and we encouraged the artists to pursue their own career as well as to participate in the project - what we ended up with was the album “Hupenyu Kumusha/Life at Home/Impilo eKhaya” which is an amalgamation of ideas from the contributors and features a variety of styles and grooves from Afropop to Zimjazz.

The album was launched in 2006 and a string of live performances followed, culminating in an appearance on the main stage during the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA - 2007 has just finished!).

The track Urombo - a traditional song (done earlier by Thomas Mapfumo) that we have revamped was released in Nov 06 on the Revolution album 4 U - done by the Mothiba twins, the album was nominated for a SAMA. The track talks of the poverty of life alone and the need to continue to strive and to work together.

Rather poignantly, track 2 on the album “Illusions” was inspired by the governments slum clean up operation in 2005 - 2 of our artists were personally affected - the bass player had his bedroom removed from the house as an “illegal extension” while the mbira player’s house was surrounded by rubble from structures torn down all around his home and he lost the income from a few “lodgers” too.

We continue to promote the grouping and our most recent performances have been at Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar and at Chimanimani Festival here in Zim.

The spin off of this album has been the recording and promotion of other groups of whom members of The Collaboration are party to.

Our latest release “Malaisha” from Busi Ncube and band Rain is starting to gain interest - I was in Norway recently to promote a tour for the group later in the year - this follows their appearance at Mela Festival in Oslo in 2006.

Busi is a founder member of legendary Zim band Ilanga - featuring Andy Brown, the late Don Gumbo, Busi and Keith Farquharson the group were leaders in the Afro fusion genre and produced a string of local hits.

Busi sings in 6 languages and her distinctive style has made her a firm favourite in Zimbabwe - she also plays mbira and percussion. We have also recorded material for Zimjazz trio Too Open, and have a couple of other projects at various stages of recording.

Stevie Sparx

Harare Zimbabwe

So here is a video of the track Urombo, from the album
Hupenyu Kumusha/Life at Home/Impilo eKhaya - neighbour, I hear you in Zimbabwe!

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