Jah Prayzah had his proper first test in front of a largely white crowd at last week’s Miombo Festival in Christon Bank, Harare.
He blew them away, convincing him that he was ready for the international market. Mokoomba had just finished their set when Jah Prayzah came on stage. White folks did not know what to expect from a guy in army gear.
But Jah Prayzah proved his mettle. His massive presence on stage got the white ladies screaming. His fusion of traditional instruments such as the mbira, hosho and marimba together with conventional ones like the saxophone, keyboard and guitars made his act stand out from the 344 other acts that the festival-goers had watched since the start of the festival three days earlier.
Jah Prayzah was amazing,” said festival director, Gus Le Briepon,
“When you have a festival crowd where everyone is relaxed and happy and suddenly this guy jumps on stage in military uniform, you really get to wonder what is about to happen. Then they start jumping around on the stage and you see everyone in the crowd getting up and dancing along, you know you watching a great artiste.”
He added: “No doubt he has all the ingredients to be a successful
artiste on the global stage but there are some elements he really needs
to modify to get the appeal of an international audience. For instance,
we all know what his military regalia means locally but it might be
difficult for others outside our context to comprehend that. I believe
there is need for transformation in such areas if he is to get the
attention of international audiences. But, he really has got what it
takes to make it big.”
But, is Jah Prayzah cut out for an international audience?
Music Crossroads director, Melody Zambuko believes he is, but has some work to do.
“Jah Prayzah’s music in comparison to other musicians who have made
it on the international scene (Bhundu Boys, Oliver Mtukudzi, Bongo Luv, Mokoomba, etcetera), is heavily Zimbabwean. The music arrangement, the lyrics and the cultural undertones are clearly Zimbabwean, which is a positive in the one hand and a negative in that anyone who is not familiar with the language he uses may find themselves totally lost and alienated from what his music seeks to achieve.