You remember Vusa Mkhaya; either as part of the iconic vocal trio Insingizi or as the sound embodiment of the eclectic, pulsing, dusty streets of Tshabalala Township in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Some remember him as an award-winning musician who captures the romanticism of the Southern African climes. Others may know him of his voice which is rich with the vibrations of a heritage that spans decades of musical writing and performance.
Either way you are acquainted with him or what he does, one thing stays clear: the 2020 National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) recipient of the Artist in the Diaspora Award and UK Zim Achievers honorary for Service to Music and Cultural Promotion is driven by an unquenchable thirst for sound. It’s that creative and cultural gumption that has seen him collaborating with a wide range of musicians and productions and amassing a hugely impressive body of work. He has pushed the boundaries of world music, retaining a mind-bending, soul-searching, spiritually stirring sound that is inspired by life’s questions.
Now that’s enough to make you care. But why is he relevant in today’s conversation? He makes good music, so what?
Uh, if you like delightful treats and new stuff, Vusa just happens to have something just for you. The musician is set to re-release his highly anticipated 3rd album internationally, UManyanyatha – Songs from the Soul of Zimbabwe later this month.
The thirteen-track album was previously released in 2016 independently and will be re-released internationally under music label Naxos Records Canada on Friday, 26 June, with additional songs digitally re-mastered and with a new title. It features popular tracks such as Abalalanga and Umanyanyatha which have both captured the hearts of many and received limitless airplay.
Now, deluxe editions and re-releases are nothing new in the music world. For years, fans have shelled out extra bucks for shiny packaging, extra goodies, and bonus tracks not heard on the “standard” music release. But these days, it seems like more and more artists (and their labels) are looking to cash in on the idea of an “exclusive” release or something that’s essentially the same album with a fresh coat of paint.
We don’t know about you, but having fallen in love with Vusa from Voices of Southern Africa/Spirit of Africa (2004), The Spirit of Ubuntu (2006) and Vocalism (2012), UManyanyatha’s re-release makes us pretty excited. Music critics have described the album as emotive musical stories of love, heartbreak and everyday living; tales delivered in soulful sometimes haunting, achingly beautiful pieces.
In a statement to the press, Vusa said the album was “inspired by different life events and questions that affect people in my hometown and beyond”.
In fact, anybody who listened to the original album will probably tell you that to call this body of work iconic is almost underselling it. It is as solid as they come and most importantly, it is so synonymous with Vusa that if you say UManyanyatha to somebody who gets it, they can probably visualize Vusa in a tell-all mode.
Mkhaya Music Productions said UManyanyatha would also be available on iTunes, Spotify and other online music stores globally. Or you can order it here.