Oliver "Tuku" Mutukudzi has been called "The Otis Redding of Zimbbawe," a comparison that has always irritated me. Oliver Mutukudzi isn't the Otis Redding of Zimbabwe, he's the Oliver Mutikudzi of Zimbabwe - his music stands on its own, it's unique and incomparable. Moreover, these sort of analogies, well-meaning, often made by publicists and music journalists, seem really ethnocentric, as if American or European music is the baseline against which all other music is defined.
End of rant. Born in 1952, Oliver grew up in Highfield, the historic African "ghetto" of Harare (called Salisbury under Ian Smith's racist Rhodesian regime) and learned to play a homemade instrument from a book called "It's Easy to Play the Guitar." He started singing gospel music and in 1975 joined Thomas Mapfumo in the Wagon Wheels band. By the '80s, as a solo artist, he had acheived massive fame in Zimbabwe, with many best-selling singles and albums and growing popularity across Southern Africa. By the turn of the century, several international releases and tours had made Mutukudzi, along with Mapfumo, one of the two most popular Zimbabwean musicians in the world.
Here is Nzara (Kudzanayi BL 459), a 1983 release that showcases Tuku at the peak of his powers, his soulful voice soaring above inspired arrangements and a variety of styles. Enjoy!
Download Nzara as a zipped file here. I have another album by Oliver Mutukudzi, Sugar Pie, that I'll be posting soon.