SUNGURA IS STATIC: GASA
1 February 2018
SUNGURA musician Romeo Gasa says lack of creativity is weighing down the genre.
The Extra Valembe boss says it’s high time creative minds save the genre from losing its relevance.
In a wide ranging interview, the 30-year-old reckons sungura has suffered stunted growth ever since the death of Tongai Moyo in 2011.
Gasa also laughs at people who still give him the copycat tag.
“I am aware that I have been carrying the copycat tag but I have always maintained I am my own name.
“Those with an ear for music, will now realise that I don’t sound like my idol Alick Macheso.
“I have since made a transition from that era when most people wanted to sound like Macheso, which saw many of us suffering stunted growth.
“I am now much into rhumba and I have even gone an extra mile at Extra Valembe and added female voices,” says Gasa.
• DHEWA ABSENCE
The 30-year-old says his heart still bleeds due to lack of creativity among artistes.
“There is no creativity at all since the death of Tongai Moyo and I am trying to change that perception.
“For instance rhumba has evolved in the past two decades from Soukus, to Kwasa kwasa, then Ndombolo and it continues to change while sungura has been static, a task I am going to take and ensure we change the game.””
Following Tongai’s death, Gasa has vowed to take responsibility and save sungura.
“Like I indicated earlier on, Tongai Moyo’s death had a bearing to sungura since he used to compete with Macheso.
“During Dhewa’s era, no sane artiste would sleep on duty as the two sungura giants would set the pace and creativity had become staple.
“For the sungura genre, I feel the responsibility now lies with me to give fans something new.”
“For instance, creativity was only there during the era of Ephraim Joe and Leonard Dembo and then came the Tongai-Macheso era and now there is virtually nothing and the onus lies with me along with fellow artistes of my generation
“In my new project, I will include a saxophone, congas as we seek to improve redefine sungura.
“If you take dendera for example, Suluman has shown us that we can still depart from the norm and this is exactly what I am doing right now.
“I am aware it’s a gamble but I will see how it will come out.”
Like any other industry, Gasa conceded exploitation is still is rife in this industry.
“In my case, I have been promised so many things and I have been shortchanged of bigger things like houses but we continue to soldier own.
“I once had a legal battle with my producers at Diamond who had promised me an apartment but I gave up the fight after realising I was young and I could work for myself.
“It was hard losing a house that I was promised but I leave it to God,” says the singer
• CORPORATE APPEAL
Despite being a solo artiste for close to a decade, Gasa lacked corporate support and he believes this is the right time to get it.
“I have been trying to win hearts of the corporate world and I am happy things are shaping up now.
“I have since clinched a deal with Vatican Tide as their brand ambassador and I see the hand of the Lord in whatever I am doing.
“My bosses at Vatican Tide are actually the ones who are also marketing my album as I can foresee a bright future.”
• BAND MEMBERS’ WELFARE
Unlike most artistes who neglect their band members, Gasa says he shares what he gets with his team.
“I’m not selfish and this is the reason why the band now has two more female members – Gain Muchawaya (daughter to the late Mukoma Ketai) and Similo Ndlovu.
“The two girls have also changed the appeal of the band and women can also do better what men can do as well.”
• FEMALE FANS
Regarding female fans who throw themselves at him, Gasa says he has a way to handle them.
“I am aware I recently assumed the ladies’ man tag owing to swag, I have a specific way to handle fans.
“I regard them as my sisters and when some want to go far, I know how to stop them,” says the pint-sized singer.
In his decade long career, Gasa has his own regrets.
“I have made mistakes in life which I don’t what to repeat or to happen to others.
“One of the greatest mistakes I made being failure to make right decisions.
“I used to shun Harare but I have realised that’s where all the honey and milk is.
“I used to hold shows in remote areas but I decided it was high time I balance between my fans in small towns or remote areas with those in big cities.
“To be honest, you won’t get corporate support if you continue playing in the back of beyond and in my case, things have changed ever since I started commanding a regular slot at Time & Jazz Café,” he says.
• EXECUTIVE SUNGURA NIGHTS
Gasa says he now has courage to perform in the capital.
“When Time & Jazz Café owner, Josh Hozheri, gave me the Thursday slot – Executive Sungura Nights – I was a bit skeptical but he made me believe that I could change my life.
“Right now, I am meeting the business people’s endorsements and that’s why I have managed to get a slot.
“I now meet people who matter in life and I don’t think some of these opportunities would have come my way if I had continued playing in the back of beyond.”
Like any other celebrity, Gasa once grabbed headlines for sickening allegations when he was accused of stealing a cellphone belonging to one of Ndolwane Super Sounds after their show.
“People would call me accusing me of being a thief but those who handled the matter realised that my hands were clean.
“I was really humiliated but managed to get over it.”
While Gasa concedes he might not be in the league of the Machesos or the Tukus of this world, he is proud of his wealth.
“Currently, I am developing a place of my own in Damofalls and I also won two vehicles – a Nissan Skyline and Caravan.
“I have also managed to build a name for myself and it would be strange for people not to mention me when the sungura subject is brought to the fore.
“I am also a farmer but this year poor rains threaten our yield.
“I have planted two hectares of soya beans and four hectares of maize but I can even do more,” says the singer.
• NEW PROJECTS
Like any sungura artiste determined to conquer, Gasa is busy in the studio.
“Of course I did not take a break in January like most artistes but I was also busy in the studio working on my sixth album.
“It carries seven tracks and already, four tracks namely Mr Brown, Murandakumwe, Anochema and Ndayi Nyora Tsamba are being recorded by Munya Viali.
“It will be released in March at a venue to be advised.”