He went on to give us the reason that he thought she was special and would be one of Zimbabwe’s biggest exports in the near future.
As the show went on and as we spoke to other members of the audience, including well-known marketer Ray Mawerera, Mbira Centre owner Albert Chimedza and people who had never before heard of Hope till this concert was announced, we compiled a few more reasons why we think Hope is different and what other young artists can learn from the path that she has taken.
Here they are…
Sometime last year Hope came to the Zimbo Jam offices and asked me, “Fungai, what do you think I need to do to make my shows better?” I was a bit taken aback by this, said my bit, and soon forgot about the whole incident. We learnt last night from Albert Nyathi and Ray Mawerera that Hope Masike has been on a silent tour of advice-seeking with everyone in the industry she thinks can offer her a word of direction.
Hope has sought advice from Nyathi himself, from Mawerera from Oliver Mtukudzi, Chiwoniso’s manager Tsungi Zvobgo and from Albert Chimedza who is one of Zimbabwe’s most staunch guardians of our Mbira heritage.
“We spent about three hours talking the first time she came,” said Nyathi, “now I am mentoring her where I can.”
We also learnt from Mawerera that she called up Zimbabwe’s top musical artist, Tuku, and jumped onto a combi to Norton to go and see him.
While Hope wouldn’t tell us much about the meeting with Tuku, we hear she ended up spending a whole afternoon chatting with the icon, sipping on tea and downloading nuggets of possibility.
After the show last night we spoke to Hope and asked her about her tour-de-advice. “How did you find out about that?” She asked before going on to respond. “I think there is wisdom in grey hair and so I have been talking to people in the industry who have been there before me. I think I can avoid making a lot of mistakes if I listen to what they have to say.”
She went on to tell us about the dangers of the industry for a young woman like her and how she really wanted to avoid them. “When you’re on stage people can put you on a pedestal and forget that you are human,” she said.
“Men come after you all the time and if you are not level-headed it’s easy to develop a big head,” she said.
“I am just a young woman and I have a lot of things to learn.”
We first came across Hope Masike when she was still known as Ruvimbo Hope Masike, using her full name. That was in 2005 during what was probably the first CBZ A-Academy audition. She was there with hundreds of other young musical hopefuls trying to get the approval of the judges to be named Zimbabwe’s top singer.
It didn’t happen for her then. She didn’t make it too far in that competition. We next ran into her a few years later. We learnt that she had signed up for a degree in ethnomusicology and then she got a weekly gig at the Book Café.
In short, it’s been a long winding road to this place and Hope’s confidence on stage, familiarity with her instrument, voice control and poise have been born out of years of development.
But even after all of that; after touring Europe several times, after two HIFA shows in consecutive years, after numerous positive reviews from critics and after developing her own loyal fan base- she is the first to say, “I still have a looooooong way to go.”
When Hope first started making headlines with her Mbira-inspired music around 2008, there were people who said “We don’t need another Chiwoniso.” Hope maintained that while she admired the former she was not trying to be like her.
There were others who said the Mbira was a dying instrument and she would not go far with it.
Hope stuck to her guns, creating her own unique brand of Mbira music and for the last four years has pushed it relentlessly.
We are starting to see the results of that self-belief.
For the Fans
Hope leaves for a five month tour of France, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom this week on Thursday. You can catch her again in Zimbabwe after she returns on November 4, albeit briefly, as she has a Southern African tour with Monoswezi for the later part of the year.