Zimbabwean musician Blessing Chimanga talks about his latest album ‘Simply Me’

Known for their African Grooves and World Music, the sextet performed at the Windmills CraftWorks in Bengaluru last Friday and Saturday, as part of their 'Simply Me' tour

Prattusa Mallik Published :  03rd September 2022 09:20 PM   |   Published :   |  03rd September 2022 09:20 PM
Blessing Chimanga

Blessing Chimanga

Acclaimed Zimbabwean musician Blessing Chimanga’s latest album Simply Me was originally recorded as a live project in 2021. To commemorate its release last month, Blessing and his band had been on their Simply Me tour across several countries including Argentina, Italy, and India. The sextet, known for their African Grooves and World Music, performed at the Windmills CraftWorks in Bengaluru last Friday and Saturday. In a conversation with Indulge, the musician spoke about his recently released album, his influences and inspirations in music, and much more.

How did you get interested in music? Tell us a bit about your journey so far.
Well, I started music at a very young age, playing drums at a church. Then, high school had me studying music as a subject, which helped me grow a lot as a musician. During that time, I started playing drums for a lot of the local musicians in Zimbabwe, including the legendary musician Oliver Mtukudzi. When the time was right, I started my own projects like the Zimboita project for which I collaborated and toured the world with two Italian musicians. After that, I went on to record my first album in 2015, my second album in 2018, and finally celebrated my 10th year as a solo performer in a big two-day event in 2019. This year,  I have launched my third album titled Simply Me and we are excited that finally, this is available to the world.

Who are the musicians who have influenced your work the most?
Oliver Mtukudzi and Chiwoniso Maraire are the two Zimbabweans who have influenced a lot of my work. Also, I would like to mention Kirk Franklin who has influenced a lot of my stage presence.

During the pandemic, a lot of musicians have experimented with their music or reinvented themselves. Has it influenced your music in any way?
Personally, no. Rather, the pandemic has made me realise more things about myself. I used the time to discover and reposition myself.

Tell us about your new album Simply Me.
Simply Me is something we recorded as a live project in 2021, but it is releasing only now. On this album, I really expressed who I am musically as well as emotionally; I tried to make sure that everyone who listens to the album can understand that. The message this album is trying to put forth is: be proud of who you are because the world loves you for who you are. Also, I dedicated this album to my late mentor Mrs Nicky Hammond who played a big role in me becoming the musician, I am today.

Blessing Chimanga with his band

You have had a successful concert in Bengaluru in 2018. What do you think about the musical taste of your audience in Bengaluru?
I love Bengaluru. Everyone who comes for my concerts in Bengaluru comes for the music and experience. I love the people there — their support is overwhelming. I feel at home when I am in the city.

Recently, the Pakistani song Pasoori became a global sensation and was later remixed in collaboration with African musicians Reekado Banks and Marwan Moussa. Do you think with increasing digitisation, more such collaborations might come up and music might cross boundaries in the truest sense?
Yes, I totally believe that technology and digitalisation is going to help in the spread of music and enable more collaborations. I would like to hope that one day my song will become a global sensation and have millions of remixes as well.

You have spent ten years in the music industry. What is the most crucial advice you would give to a musician who is new to the industry?
I would say three things. Firstly, be yourself: find who you are, work on your strengths, and capitalise more on that. The world will support you only when you are yourself. Secondly, work hard: no opportunity comes when you are just sitting. Keep working hard and results will come. Finally, be confident: believe in yourself before the next person believes you. Push yourself to the limit. And one day, it will all pay off.