Just four years ago, the name Jah Prayzah would have caught no attention outside the borders of Zimbabwe.
Even at home, besides the love declared by the common show-goer, the critical musical lover quickly wrote him off as an ill rooted artiste suffering from the confusion of fast paced bubble gum genres.
Yet as time would have it, the singer literally towers over his contemporaries in his country and region fast becoming one of the most sought after musician having started off by entertaining revellers for free during their lunches in Harare pubs.
With collaborations with singers like Mafikizolo, Davido, Diamond Platnumz and lately Yemi Alade, Jah Prayzah has managed to build bridges that were before hid time mirages. Now his music plays on the continent’s biggest TV and radio stations.
Yet he remains humble and insists his mission is just to ensure that his music reaches every corner of the world.
“Vision, hard work, team work and above all; prayer have taken us this far. As long as you have a vision and the will to go plus the back up from God, nothing can go wrong. My team and my band have also played a crucial role in the growth of my career,” said the singer who boasts of one, the richest Shona vocabulary among his contemporaries.
Back home, the singer has had to deal with a rigid audience that believes music has to be recorded and played live with guitars and other instruments. But as has been proven by pop culture, digital music has taken the lead. And he is heeding it.
“Music should never be limited. It is a form of language that should be understood by all and not only one nation. I still love my live music as well as my first set of fans but as you grow you should also accommodate the new music lovers willing to join your circle, and do things that excite everyone. Live music still sounds good, but when the market it biased towards digital especial nowadays, there is no prize for being rigid,” said Jah Prayzah.
His latest album carries a potpourri of sounds with the traditional live instruments that the Zimbabwean follower is accustomed to, the new digital and funky pop sound as well as jiti’ish’ dance and Afro Pop sound.
He features Nigerian songstress Yemi Alade on a track Nziyo Yerudo which is nearing 1 million hits on You Tube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esf9p-qQGFI) and has done fairly well on the charts and Tanzanian Diamond on Poporipo.
“I tried to make sure I make a hit for everyone, that is to say, there are songs that will suit different age groups and also different tastes,” said the singer.
But the singer who is also known for his vivid imagination as evidenced by some of his video scripts is also a perfectionist who spends long hours in the studio and often literally “visits” his home. He is also a perfectionist who does not care how much gold is lost in purification.
In 2016 he sank thousands of dollars in a video for the track Mudhara Vachauya shot in Monaco, France that never saw the light of day simply because “the message did not come out as clearly as” he wanted.
“I didn’t like how the video came out. We used a very good director but probably not as well versed in the type of music I sing hence the message did not come out as clearly as I wanted it to,” he said.
Now running one of the most vibrant music labels in the country Military Touch Movement, Jah Prayzah feels his mandate is none other than growing his brand.
Born July 4 1987 in Uzumba, Mashonaland East Province of Zimbabwe, Jah Prayzah was christened Mukudzei by his parents a name which means “praise him”.
His career started off with the release of Sungano, his debut released in 2007.
By 2010 he was still in the doldrums trying to convince the Zimbabwean market with his brand that was predominantly fused with the mbira instrument while he also had a reggae affiliation.
His first commercial slot at the now defunct Jazz 105 in 2013 after the release of Ngwarira Kuparara was a disaster with proprietor Josh Hozheri being lambasted by revelers to pay him off and switch off his noise.
Yet as fate would have it, in just two weeks the same venue would be packed to the brim on Wednesdays until they discontinued fearing monotony.