Home » Arts & Culture » Sky Is the Limit for Hope Masike [column]

I am always intrigued by this diminutive sensational mbira player-cum-singer called Hope Masike. She has never made a hit song that we can all sing along to , yet in 2012 she won a NAMA award in the outstanding female musician category. She is undoubtedly the envy of many up and coming artistes as through her networking talent, she has achieved what many musicians can only dream of.

She has only been in the music business since 2008 and in that period she has showcased her musical skills extensively.

In 2009 she travelled to Mozambique with Umoja where she proved to be quite a sensation. The following year, Umoja went to Norway. Hope was part of the team. While there, she showed her exceptional talent to the extent the she was invited to come back the following year to spend 12 months teaching African music at Kultureskoleni Fredrikstad and performing in and around Norway.

Hope Masike brought to her Norwegian audience and students her lovely modern sound of mbira with her solo, acoustic acts. While in Norway, she also collaborated with numerous artistes and bands from other countries. Among them was world music outfit from four countries with whom she made a g collaboration. They called themselves Monoswezi (Mozambique, Norway, Sweden and Zimbabwe) with whom she toured Europe and Southern Africa. Masike with Monoswezi also did an album titled “The Village”, which was released in 2012.

One song from the album was selected by Worldmusic network for a special compilation called the “Rough Guide to Undiscovered Music” which received warm reviews.

For the past three years, hope has been doing tours with members of her Monoswezi group in countries that include Germany, France, Switzerland, Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Austria, Iceland and Holland.

Perhaps there is something magical about the name Hope as this year, Hope, together with another Zimbabwean, Blessing Chimanga who is also a Umoja product and has done extensive musical collaborations in Italy where he played drums and marimba, have for the first time been selected by American based organisation called One Beat.

The organisation, which started three years ago, is involved in cultural exchange.

It is also involved in music-based social entrepreneurship in which innovative musicians from all over the world meet to launch collaborative projects which are designed to make a positive impact on local and global communities.

It brings together young musicians from all over the world.

Flight tickets, food and accommodation expenses are met by One Beat. Out of 2, 500 applicants, Hope and Blessing’s applications were successful. They will form part of the team of participants from 25 different countries where they will share musical, cultural and social entrepreneurship experiences.

The USA camps will be held in California, Arizona and New Mexico where emphasis will be made on community development.

It will last four weeks and training will be through lectures and practical activities such as recording an album and how to conduct business in specific areas. We hope Hope and Blessing will benefit from this fruitful exercise.

Hope formed the group Kakuwe in 2007 and is on a mission to revolutionisembira music by playing all genres of music using the mbira. Many people compare her to the late Chiwoniso Maraire although in my opinion she still has a long way to go before she makes it to the level which Chiwoniso had reached.

Most of the material Hope churns out comes from her two 10 track albums “Hope” and “Mbira” “Love and Chocolate” which were recorded at Monolio Studio and feature Kakuwe band members, Elisha Herema on bass, Blessed Rukweza on djembe and congas, SongweLimbikani on marimba, Theresa Mteta on recorder and guest artist, Clive “Mono” Mukundu on guitar.

The ten tracks on the CD “Hope” are “Nalimitemwa”, (sung in Bemba), “Hondo”, “The Land”, “Ndinewe”, “Mberi”, “Dzangu”, “Show Me”, “DzivaRerudo”, “Chaitemura Chotemurazve” and “Nalimitemwa” (Prayer)

Hope’s album is really inspiring to the extent that it will force the soldiers and police to lay down their arms and builders to take their lunch break to listen while mothers will stop breastfeeding in order to enjoy Hope’s music.

Simply put, Hope’s music is hard to ignore.

Her unique style and inspirational chants have set a standard others try desperately to follow.

At her live gigs, Hope plays mbira effortlessly, does the kongonya dance for a while, and then picks up two hoshos, shaking them as if to motivate her band to raise the tempo.

Masike studied music on the National Certificate in Music programme offered by the Zimbabwe College of Music and she is about to complete a bachelor’s degree in music at the same institution.

She admits that her studies in music at the Zimbabwe College of Music have equipped her with knowledge on how to notate music.

However, her degree programme keeps getting interrupted by the exciting musical projects that continue to come her way non-stop.

Hope is also a visual artist and a fashion designer apart from being a songwriter and singer. Her music blends mbira with jazz and other contemporary feels. Hope has it all – talent, looks and musical success and she is now on the verge of worldwide musical domination.

Masike says that she is determined to carve a new sound out of the mbira. If you listen carefully to the songs on the album, there is rock, jazz and even traditional beats, making it hard for anyone to interpret her brand of mbira music except to simply say that it is an amalgamation of a myriad of influences.

In her parting words, Hope had this to say: “I am leaving for the USA this week for the One Beat programme which begins on October 8.

“This venture offers me a new source of inspiration, quite different to what I was used to.

“I find myself faced with a new challenge, facing a brand new audience and brand new cultures. I am forced to move away from my comfort zone and having to offer my brand in an international fashion to a broader audience.

“This venture will also see me working with musicians from different cultures with a different appreciation of music and a different, if not opposite, music culture. This is bound to introduce new ideas to my music and make it grow, and what’s more beautiful about it is that it thrills even me too because even I do not know how my music is going to change.

“On a business level, I shall have a chance to further my knowledge on my operations and make myself a better musician and a better ambassador of Zimbabwe. On return, I hope to launch a Hope Trust and Mbira Magic Tour where I will be able to showcase my new experiences.”

“My music shall service beyond the borders of Zimbabwe. This is just a golden chance for me to expand the scope of my vision.

“I have always believed this earth belongs to all of us. The boundaries were put by us humans in the form of boarders to maintain order but not to restrict us .I have always wanted the whole earth to be my audience.

“To my fans, this is not the end of my music .If anything it is the beginning. They must expect a lot more from me in the year 2015 because I shall be working hard for them.”

We all have hope in Hope. So farewell my dear.

A few words of aice:”Remember the reputation you build over a thousand years to come may depend upon the conduct of a single moment. We wish you well”.

Source : The Herald