TshisaLIVE's last interview with Oliver Mtukudzi: His goal was to always make music with a message

24 January 2019 - 08:51
By Chrizelda Kekana
Legendary musician Oliver Mtukudzi has died.
Image: Instagram/Oliver Mtukudzi Legendary musician Oliver Mtukudzi has died.

Oliver Mtukudzi understood the responsibility that came with having a great gift and he didn't let anything stand in the way of using his music to heal and change lives.

In the wake of Oliver's death on Wednesday afternoon, fans from across the world have come out thank him for the music. Most said that while the legend may be gone, Oliver's music will live forever.

The 66-year-old jazz musician was determined to ensure that his music would live to tell the story of his country and people, but above all he hoped it would lead people to introspect.

Particularly with his latest album, Oliver opened up about how he hoped the world would go back to the basics, so that they realise that God made enough space under the sun for everyone.

Oliver warmly shared how his mother told him that to her, his best song would always be his first cry.  He said from that moment his ultimate hope has always been to make music that conveyed a powerful message...similar to what his cry as a baby meant to his mom.

A message of hope.


Oliver Mtukudzi already had 66 albums under his belt before the release of his 67th offering that is packed with "life lessons and an Oliver sound". 

At the time the musician told TshisaLIVE that the most significant thing about his upcoming album, Hanya'Ga (Concern) was the message.

"My 67th album is meant to share a message of introspecting and I'm hoping people learn a thing or two from it. It's an album I wrote last year after I realised that the world keeps getting tangled up in 'unnecessary' problems. All because we are focused on competing and being better than the next person. In so doing we keep stepping on each other's toes but that is not how God created us. God meant for us to compliment each other, that's why he didn't duplicate talent."

Oliver said that he learnt to play the guitar by experimenting and even though professional guitarists once laughed at his experiments, it has stood him in good stead. 

"I looked for a sound the guitar couldn't make in a guitar, that is how I learned to play the guitar. Professional guitarist at the time used to laugh at me. I used to look for a mbira (music instrument) on the guitar strings, I've always been experimental. But it was a blessing in disguise because I went on to pioneer a sound that was later labeled Tuku music."

Oliver said that words from his mother about what makes great music always inspires him to do better. 

"According to my mother, she believed that I will never come up with a song that surpasses my birth cry. From that, I've been making music to compare to that first cry... because it probably was more than how my cry sounded. It must have been more what my birth cry meant to my mother. That is the kind of music I make."

Oliver added that his music always carries the theme of self-discipline: a life principle he lives his life by.

"Culturally, you don't get to sing a song when you have nothing to say. That's how it is supposed to be. You lose the purpose of a song if it says nothing, you must have something to share with the people who are listening. A song is what you are talking about, adding instrumentation, is adding flavour."