In Zimbabwe’s modern day music industry, women sadly have to work harder than their male counterparts to be heard. The patriarchal state of the industry makes it even tougher for female musicians to stay and hold their own. In the past three decades, there have been numerous females who have hit the stage or recorded awesome songs that we’ve fallen in love with and sing along to. Trail blazers like Busi Ncube, Prudence Katomeni, Chiwoneso Maraire, Dudu Manhenga, Sister Flame, Rute Mbangwa, Mirriam Mandipira…just to mention a few have paved the way so that others could easily follow.
Joining those ranks with an electrifying voice and presence that would shrink the devil to hell is beautiful talented Ccicci. Her hit song MaSorry hit the airwaves a few months back and, just like magic, the Ccicci bug bit!
Born Chido Noreen Gwagwagwa in Harare at the Mbuya Nehanda Parirenyatwa maternity wing, Ccicci stepped into the world with her lungs ablaze with song. Her very first cry was a melody perfect in harmony, and really, from that moment, her family should have known right then: a music diva had been born into the Gwagwagwa family.
Mhurai Chovunoita and the late Job Dhlamini/Gwagwagwa raised their daughter to be a strong, independent and confident young woman. Her parents continuously told her there was nothing she could not do or become, that she is beautiful, and armoured with these words, she is out making her dreams come true. Ccicci’s parents’ love and words of encouragement are the wind that make her wings fly, and whenever the going gets tough it, is those very same words that keep her heart strong. With two siblings, one older and the other younger, Ccicci is that rare middle child, who is perfectly balanced, with no middle child issues (unlike some of us).
She grew up in Kwekwe, where she attended St. Andrews Preschool, Kwekwe Primary School, Kwekwe High School for her first year of high school, and then Goldridge College for forms 2 to 6. Her hobbies have always included singing as well as a little bit of drawing. She realised from an early age that she also had a talent for memorizing things easily, so she focused on public speaking and storytelling during her primary school days. “I was really good at Maths…until engineering maths caught up with me in varsity,” she says as she laughs. Like many girls, growing up she wanted to be an air hostess with dreams of travelling to far-away exotic places and meeting people from different cultures. With the good looks and physique she possesses, she certainly would have done the best airlines proud.
The single MaSorry has Ccicci pouring out her heart on an issue that we all could easily identify with: heartache. From the times of Susan Mapfumo’s Handitambwe Iyoyo, Cindy’s Ndidzorere moyo wangu to Ammara Brown’s Watchu want from me, the most sure fire way to get attention in music is by letting your guard down and singing exactly what you’re feeling. Putting to words what every Zimbabwean woman at some point or the other has felt like screaming about, has given many a female artist a breakthrough hit. When we can relate, we can then love and just like that, we are hooked!
The song itself is pretty clean and easy on the ear. It has a lovely melody, just enough to keep you craving for more and not too much to get you moving onto the next song. It is exactly as it should be, perfectly balanced and quite like a twisted feat of fate similar to Ccicci’s own life as the proverbial middle child. Balanced! In the song, she sings about how the love of her life claims to have become a better man and changed his evil cheating ways. “…those other girls mean nothing to me..,” is a line some of you have most probably heard in your own relationships once or twice in your lives. The single is a mix of both Shona and English (shonglish) and you don’t even feel the change when she moves from one language to the other.
The song was inspired by heartache; Ccicci shrugs her shoulders and laughs as she adds “…but, it’s exaggerated…a bit.” What I know is that one wouldn’t be a true artist without a dab or two of exaggeration here and there. Recorded at JCMC Records and produced by Kalino, the song was mixed by COG.
MaSorry is proof that a lone guitar and voice are sometimes all an artist needs to have a hit. Whether this is a style she wishes to maintain – well, we will all have to wait and see. It is a style that has worked for a lot of big music names in the past and as well as the present. Ed Sheeran, for instance, is quite the popular one for his uncanny ability to make an acoustic guitar sound like a full band, and it’s this gift that’s making him fill up big venues around the world all on his own.
Ccicci’s second single to date is a feature in Takura’s track Ndanga ndisingazive, which is on his recently released Someone had to do it album. Ndanga ndisingazive has that truly Takura trap signature sound we’ve all grown to love. The track is a lovelorn song where Takura laments the damage done to his relationship due to a busy work schedule. The track on Takura’s part is more self-reflective and self-critical. In the second verse, Ccicci comes through with her side of the story: “…you were always so busy … I thought you were cheating…” It’s a beautiful song and as they both get into the last chorus, the song gets into a vocal climax where both Takura and Ccicci’s voices bring the song full circle and it fades leaving one wanting more.
“Takura and I go way back…before he went solo. I’ve always respected his art and he used to help me out with song choices when I joined Starbrite. Because of this it was easy… he just called me said he needed to do a song with me and I was up for it. Then we recorded the song.”
The duet works. One can hear Ccicci put the very essence of her entire being into every note.
The hope is that Ccicci will soon release her album, but as the industry stands, singles are the way to go as one builds up a name before dropping the entire album. Having worked with Barney Mpariwa’s Starbrite and toured Asia, this bright star is yet to show us what she’s really made of. From the look of things so far she is on the right track. The thought of her unleashing her full potential just gives me goose bumps.
We all have those low points in our relationships, and sometimes the only thing that keeps us going is a song and thanks to Ccicci’s MaSorry, we have another song to commiserate to.
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