Alick Macheso - Greatest Zimbabweans

Alick Macheso is a contemporary Zimbabwean musician, often referred to as the king of sungura. Born and raised in Shamva, Alick rose to fame in the late 1990s as a solo-artist with Orchestra Mberikwazvo.

lick Macheso was born in 1968 in Shamva, 90 kilometres to the north of Harare, to parents of Malawian origin - a fact that was to inspire him to be able to speak and sing in five languages - Shona, Chichewa, Sena, Venda and Lingala. He is working on perfecting his Ndebele. Growing on a farm, especially before Zimbabwe's Independence from Britain in 1980, the environment did not offer him many opportunities. In 1983, at the youthful age of 15, he left the farm compounds of Shamva to head for the dizzy lights of Harare.

Arriving in the capital at the invitation of a relative, who had been inspired by Macheso guitar-playing prowess at the farm compound, things did not go according to plan and soon Macheso was to switch camps. He moved in with Nicholas Zacharia: "He really acted like an uncle to me and took me into his home. They provided me with everything up to the time I married my wife," recalls Macheso. The two went on a music-inspired journey, joining several bands, mostly sungura-playing outfits.
Alick Macheso - Greatest Zimbabweans
In 1997, he broke ranks with Zacharia, to form his own Orchestra Mberikwazvo, the outfit that backs him to date. "I remember we used to be regulars at Murambinda in Buhera and there was this braai-man who used to do it differently from others. And I would comment 'mberi kwazvo zvaunoita' and the saying stuck. When the managers at Gramma (his recording studio) asked me what the name of my band was, I simply said Orchestra Mberikwazvo."

Simbaradzo was to be the turning point is his career, and Mundikumbuke and Mai Rubhi, which remain national chants even to this date, brought Macheso into the limelight, and suddenly everyone took notice. He was the phenomenon that the music industry had been waiting for. He was to follow on the success of Simbaradzo with Zvakanaka Zvakadaro, the album which confirmed that, indeed, Zimbabwe, had given birth to a new sensation.

Zvakanaka Zvakadaro was followed, in 2003, by Zvido Zvenyu Kunyanya, yet another confirmation that Macheso had not only arrived on the Zimbabwean music scene, but that he was determined to stay there for as long as possible. It is only a question of time before Macheso becomes the first Zimbabwean musician to sell a million copies of his music.

Macheso whose scintillating live performances and charismatic stage presence have rocked audiences of all stripes made his debut international tour when he performed in London at the Southern African Summer Sunsplash Festival in June 2002. After attempts to carve a niche with his unique bass-strumming technique, his original rhythms resonated with music lovers and his album Simbaradzo disappeared from the shelves at a phenomenal rate, selling more than 350,000 copies. This was a historic record breaking success in his native land of Zimbabwe.

Even the album Zvakanaka Zvakadaro that followed Simbaradzo garnered attention and sold in excess of 100,000 in the first week alone. Macheso honed his skills and refined his musicianship when he was with Khiama Boys. He later assembled a team of talented musicians and came up with Orchestra Mberikwazvo.

His energetic stage presence has become fireworks particularly with his trademark dance, The Razor Wire. He is an entertainer extraordinaire whose performances leave revelers yearning for more.


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