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Dumisani Ramadu: A musical Journey - The interview

by Tish Ncube Malaba
27 Dec 2015 at 21:44hrs | Views
Looking in the future
As someone once said, if you want to be a rock star or just be famous, then run down the street with no clothes on, you'll make the news or something. But if you want music to be your livelihood, then play, play, play and play! And eventually you'll get to where you want to be. This is more likely to have been a particular motivation for Dumisani Ramadu, a musician who emanates from Bulawayo, the city of kings and queens, and certainly took it aboard, as it is evidenced and depicted by the story of his musical journey. For him, without music life would be a mistake. This is an unconventional belief but truly backed by the assertion that music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life, and the belief is further fortified by Martin Luther's view that, next to the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. Of course music is the strongest form of magic, transcending beyond religion in the form of a moving sound heading to the soul, for the education of its virtue.

On Boxing Day of 2015, we arranged an interview with Ramadu, whose music, for years, has enabled us to both find ourselves as well as lose ourselves at the same time.

Tell us about Dumisani Ramadu?

Dumisani Ramadu Moyo is a multi-talented award winning Artist, who together with his two colleagues from Insingizi have sold more than 250,000 copies in USA of their album "Voices of Southern Africa Vol.1," and received awards in France for their Imbube a cappella singing style. This has made Insingizi the best-selling Band/Group of all time on a single album to come out of Zimbabwe.

They have toured almost the whole of Europe, Canada and the USA playing in Concert halls and festivals. Ramadu is a vocalist, instrumentalist, songwriter and producer from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Dumisani started his music career in 1990 with Insingizi, then known as Insingizi Emnyama, but the name was shortened to the present in 2002

In 2001 he released his first solo album called "Izambulelo" which sold a few thousand copies under the UK based World music Label ARC Music. The album was successful such that it also featured in different Films and Documentaries around the world and one of the Hollywood movies "Phat Girls" featured 2 songs namely "Tholakele" and "Mwari-we".
Still riding high with the release of "Izambulelo", Ramadu needed to take his solo act to the stage to perform live. He eventually formed a band called "The Afro-Vibes" which was invited in big and small Festivals mostly around Austria, Germany and Slovenia.
In 2004 he co-founded a successful music project called MoZuluArt, a music group that mixes European classic music and Imbube vocal harmonies. This project has been presented to places as far as Beirut in Lebanon, Moscow, New York, Moldavia, South Africa and Senegal.

Ramadu has worked with quite a number of Artists on and offstage. Amongst them is the Euro Blues Man Hans Theessink, Zimbabwean legendary musician Themba Ndlovu,The Mbaqanga organ wizard of the Soul Brothers Moses Ngwenya, Jeys Marabini and many more.
As a Producer, Ramadu has established his own Label, Studio and Production house. The label is called "10th District Music", and has recorded and produced Artists such as Nobuntu, Jeys Marabini, Blessing Nqo Nkomo, Vusa Mkhaya, IYASA, Pascal Lopongo and many more.

What drove you into music and when did you become a professional artist?
Passion..! I love and live music. It was in 1990

What are your strength music wise?

To be able to sing, perform, play various instruments, record and produce

Insingizi; how did this group come about?
Insingizi Emnyama was formed in 1987 at Sobukazi Sec School Bulawayo. Later the membership kept changing until to the remaining trio which is now called just Insingizi (without "Emnyama"

Which was your most successful song?
In terms of making dollars it's Maqhawe Nkosi, Tholakele and Mwari-we as they featured in Movies and Documentaries.

Mozulu Art; what project is that and what does it involve?
It's a project which was created by myself, Blessings Nqo Nkomo, Vusa Mkhaya and Roland Guggenbichler. It's a mixture of Imbube and Classical Music mainly based on Mozart compositions. It's 10 years now since it was created and it's still doing well around Europe and other places. We have taken it so far to Senegal, South Africa, New York, Moscow, France, Middle East and almost the entire EU.

Which famous musicians have you learned from?
Black Umfolosi, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Themba Ndlovu, Ilanga, Solomon Skuza, Majaivana, Jeys and many other musicians even who are young. There is always something to learn in this industry..!

How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
By just moving on as if nothing happened

What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighbourhood or town?
When we toured the country side of Matebeleland in the early 90's. And when we left for Europe for the first time in 1995.

If given an opportunity to say thank you now, to who would that be directed to?

My Mother, Colleagues, Family and the Creator

Some feel you and your group are ambassadors especially for Bulawayo musicians, What do you think about Bulawayo music?
So much talent in our city, music is great..! We only need to hook our own people to support local musicians

Do you ever consider mentoring your musicians?  A music school or something like that?
I'm doing that already since some years. 10th District Music stands for that. The significant result as of now is Nobuntu.

What is the best track you ever did? And which song do you feel is the best composition ever?
I love all my songs...but I confess that the track "Impi yamabutho" from my 2nd album KUNJALO is my favourite.

I do not think there is a "best composition ever" because it's really a personal thing. So, MY personal best composition is "Not yet Uhuru" Letta Mbulu and Caiphas Semenya.

Is there any music industry in Zimbabwe?
Once upon a time in the 80's there was a functioning Music industry in all dimensions. But now we missing a lot of players in the industry. Publishers for the moment due to Economic struggles and Piracy...we have lost Marketers and Distributors. There is a lot to be done in order to have a functioning music industry. It's not something to be solved by musicians only.

How do you balance your music with other obligations - mate, children, job?
As a touring, busy scheduled Artist it's not really easy..but I try my BEST to find balance between family and my work.

Source - Tish Ncube Malaba
More on: #Dumisani_Ramadu