Hope Masike is a fast rising star on the local music scene. As one of a handful of female mbira players in Zimbabwe, this talented songbird is part of a new generation of Zimbabwean artists who are making the world sit up and take notice. This year alone, she did several collaborations at HIFA, one of which travelled to Mozambique for the AZGO festival and the internationally acclaimed Bushfire festival in Swaziland. A gifted artist with a phenomenal voice, we sat down with Hope Masike to find out about the person behind the talent.
You have released two albums that give a unique and different feel to the mbira. Tell me about your musical creative process.
Yes I’ve released two albums so far. My creative process starts from anywhere really. I have written songs while relaxing with family at home and even while on stage. Ideas and inspiration come from everywhere. What I then get technical about is the creative process afterwards, when I work on song arrangements and orchestration from quite an academic place. I use a lot improvisational skills too while recording.
Who inspires you as a musician?
Many people for different reasons. Chiwoniso Maraire for the amazing talent, Dudu Manhenga for perfect branding, Oliver Mtukudzi for the perseverance, Emeli Sande and Rachelle Farrel for their incredible voices, Edith WeUtonga for playing an unconventional instrument for a woman (bass guitar), and Winky D and Suluman Chimbetu for singing songs that speak to the masses.
You’ve just finished performing at some of Southern Africa’s best festivals: HIFA, AZGO and Bushfire. Tell us how the audiences feel about Zimbabwean music.
It is very under-exposed. People out there love Zimbabwean music!
Who are some of your favourite musicians you have collaborated with in your career?
Everyone I have worked with has been very important. Some of the artists I have worked with are jazz artists Bokani Dyer and Muzila Malembe, Zimbabwean electro hip-hop band The Monkey Nuts and Monoswezi – the Mozambican, Norwegian, Swedish, Zimbabwean jazz ensemble I am a part of.
Who or what inspires you to play the mbira? What type of mbira do you play?
I am now actually playing two types of mbira for my live sets. I was inspired by all the mbira gurus who came before me, but mostly Mbuya Stella Chiweshe, Mbuya Beulla Dyoko and Chiwoniso Maraire.
You are part of a third wave or generation of female mbira players, after Stella Chiweshe and Chiwoniso Maraire who made huge strides in spreading mbira music all over the world. Traditionally, women were not allowed to play the mbira in Shona culture. What advice would you give to aspiring female mbira players?
There are many types of mbira to learn how to play. No one is stopping anyone from learning. Until there is a law that says you will be jailed for playing mbira in Zimbabwe or the world over, we owe it to ourselves to move on and just do whatever it is we feel we are called to do.
Where do you often perform in Harare?
Right now I am not performing. I will start playing again in September and I will make certain everyone knows where I will be staging shows! People can also find out more from my Facebook page.
What is your favourite song at the moment?
“Next to me” by Emeli Sande.
What can we expect from Hope Masike in 2013?
There’s going to be a huge concert in September. Watch the press for details!
Hope Masike’s two albums Hope and Mbira, Love and Chocolate are available for purchase from The Book Café Bookshop.