Arguably Zimbabwe's most revered musician, Oliver Mtukudzi and his band the Black Spirits have churned out some 60 albums since the late 1970s. Mtukudzi’s musical career started at the age of 23 with the 1975 release of his debut single, 'Stop After Orange'. He turned professional two years later in 1977, teaming up with Thomas Mapfumo in the famous Wagon Wheels Band and recording the hit 'Dzandimomotera', inspired by Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. It was soon followed by Tuku's first solo album, which was also a major success.
With his husky voice, Tuku has become the most recognized voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond. A member of Zimbabwe's Korekore tribe, he sings in the nation's dominant Shona language, along with Ndebele and English. He incorporates elements of various musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as 'Tuku Music'. 'Tuku Music' has evolved into something quite distinct from any other Zimbabwean music. Clearly, his cultural influences are evident – the traditional forms of the mbira, South African mbaqanga and the popular Zimbabwean music style called jiti are all evident in his sound – but these have been distilled into an aesthetic that is now very much his own. Mtukudzi has toured all over the world, performing for large audiences in the UK and North America, for example. He also performs regularly in South Africa and Mozambique.
Photos by: David Durbach