AMP homeEventsSpecial featuresRecommended cdsRecommended readingVarious photosContact AMPRelevant links
Oliver Mtukudzi

Zimbabwean Oliver Mtukudzi is a truly great guitarist, vocalist, performer and composer. He must be one of the few people to have a beat named after him:'tuku'! This came about purely from his fans and Tuku stresses that he was the last to know. The unique tuku beat comes from a blend of Zimbabwean mbira with the faster Zulu township mbaqanga. 
Oliver started out as a professional musician when he joined the Wagon Wheels in 1977. Now, along with his own band The Black Spirits, his appealing voice, captivating guitar rhythms and superb dance moves make his live performances really fantastic to experience. In his thrilling live performance at the Barbican, London in 2001, the audience went quite wild in their appreciation: they were up dancing right from the start. The same thing happened at the London Jazz Festival 2002 when Oliver and his band were at the Royal Festival Hall.
Mtukudzi sings in Shona interspersed with a bit of English, and the lyrics often have special or hidden messages. Many of his songs give advice on life. He has a great many recordings to his credit. On the album Ndega Zvangu Oliver sings accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, without his band, because of the tragic deaths of his brother, keyboard player Robert, guitarist Job Muteswa, and drummer Sam Mutowa and he dedicates the album to them. 
Both the CD  Tuku Music, 1998, and the follow-up album, Paivepo, released in 2000 include beautiful ballads. For example, 'Mabaza' from Tuku Music, which gives imagery pointing to the devastating effects of AIDS, is truly exquisite.
On the CD of 2001, Bvuma-Tolerance, one of the tracks, 'Wasakara', has become the unofficial anthem of the opposition parties in Zimbabwe. Another song, 'Akoromoka Awa', is a moving tribute in which Tuku mourns his late colleagues Sam, Job and Inga and his late brother Robert. 
As well as performing and recording music
Mtukudzi has starred in 2 major Zimbabwean movies, Jit (1990) and Neria (1991) and there are soundtrack CDs of both of these. He has also written a musical about Zimbabwe's street children. Indeed one of the tracks on the album Ziwere MuKobenhavn is 'Street kid'.  Another project that Mtukudzi is a part of is Mahube, a collaboration of musicians

from Southern Africa that began in 1998.
In 1995 Mtukudzi  represented Zimbabwe at the SADC music festival in Harare. Futher afield he performed at the MASA Festival in Abidjan in March 1997.
2002 was a big year for the band to appear at festivals and celebrations: the Arts Alive Festival, the International Jazz Festival in Zimbabwe, Tuku's 50th birthday celebration at the Joy of Jazz Festival, then the Music for Food initiative and Botswana's Independence Day celebrations.
Over the last 5 years Tuku's music has deservedly made a significant impact on the world-wide music scene. At WOMAD Reading in 2001 Mtukudzi's show was broadcast live on Radio 3's regular World Routes programme. At a workshop later that day he spoke of his music being able to diffuse tension and emphasised that it is for everybody.

One of Oliver's albums released in 2002 is entitled Vhunze Moto (see CDs). A track from it, 'Ndakuvara' won the 2002 Kora Award for Best African Arrangement. The other album, Shanda, is a multimedia tribute in film, DVD and CD formats which explores Tuku's achievements using live recordings and interviews. He has won numerous awards and has featured in many TV programmes and prestigious magazines, for example Time Africa's article entitled 'The People's Voice' together with his picture on the front cover. In the 2003 Kora Awards Tuku won not only the Best Male Artist: Southern Africa Award but also the Lifetime Achievement Award. Tuku's 47th album,Tsivo (revenge), is an acoustic studio work recorded in his own studio in Norton, Zimbabwe. Its 12 tracks have great lyrics and beautiful acoustic sounds: typical yet highly appealing and original Tuku style for 2004!