Jah Prayzah has given Harare Magazine an exclusive interview this month to tell us about the exciting things has been up to and what he is planning for his numerous fans in the near future.
Jah warmly welcomed us into a relaxed and casual interview that made me forget he is actually an international superstar! Born as Mukudzei Mukombe into modest surroundings, this last-born to a family of five had natural musical talent coursing through his veins from an early age. With the help of many encouraging teachers and the support of his family, he cultivated this talent and pursued the mbira as his prominent instrumental partner. He adopted the name Jah Prayzah and his career has soared. Through his sheer commitment, perseverance and a lot of hard work, Jah Prayzah now stands among Zimbabwe’s greatest musical artists to date. And, let me assure you, he is nowhere near being finished!
Having just completed a whirlwind tour in the USA (Dallas and Washington, DC) and at Zimfest in London, where he was wildly popular, Jah has returned to Zimbabwe to put the finishing touches on his new album, Kutonga Kwaro, which is to be launched on October 13th. This highly anticipated album has 12 tracks that range from love songs to party songs, and even includes a bit of gospel music. They are hoping for some international collaboration as well in this album. Get ready fans!
Earlier this year, Jah Prayzah participated in Coke Studios Africa to record and video songs produced as a result of a widespread cultural exchange among African artists. In his first Coke Studio Africa experience in Kenya, Jah teamed up with Mr. Bow from Mozambique to make brilliant music. His second appearance, he collaborated with acclaimed musician, Jason Derulo, in a remix of Derulo’s hit song, “In My Head.”
Jah Prayzah has certainly not been resting on his laurels; last year, he became the first Zimbabwean to receive an MTV African Music Award (MAMA) and he is currently nominated for Best Male Artiste in Southern Africa in the esteemed 2017 All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) alongside names like AKA and Emtee, for his track Watora Mari featuring Diamond Platnumz. Closer to home, Jah Prayzah puts his time and effort into being a fantastic brand ambassador for ZDF, ZOL, Puredrop and AfricaBet, and there are others who are seeking him out as well.
Jah’s humble background has taught him a number of important lessons in life, not the least of which involves the importance of family, roots, values and tradition. This message is carried throughout in many of his songs and lyrics, and is the cornerstone of much of what Jah Prayzah believes is the foundation for courageous men and women to realise their dreams.
I was lucky enough to meet Jah Prayzah personally last year for the first time, when I was working on another project. He charmed me instantly and I became a fast fan! My personal favourite song is the one entitled, Roots. Curious about the meaning of a Shona phrase in the song, I asked for a translation. Imagine how thrilled I was when he actually sang it to me last week; I sat there mesmerised and speechless as that beautiful voice sang the words I was looking for! The Shona phrase, “Ugotora Mukombe,” translates literally as, “Take the crown!” In true Jah fashion, while always inspiring fans and listeners to be the best they can and reach for their dreams, he still remains true to his roots.
He sings on: “And while you’re on your mission, don’t you lose your tradition. It’s your round-trip ticket in life. And when you’ve made it the top, you can see that all you’ve got, it’s your roots that keep you alive.”
Thank you, Jah Prayzah, for being such an incredible inspiration to all Zimbabweans!
Interview by Ann Beattie
Photography by Denzel Alpha