Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits

One of Africa’s musical giants, Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi is a guitarist, vocalist, performer and composer. And he must be one of the few people to have a beat named after him: ‘tuku’!

Zimbabwe’s pride, most successful artist and national treasure, Oliver Mtukudzi is gifted with a deep and gusty voice plus a talent for writing songs that reflect on the daily life and struggles of his people. ‘Tuku’ as he is known, began performing in 1977 and has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond, all the while incorporating elements of different musical traditions. A member of Zimbabwe’s Kore Kore tribe, he sings in the nation’s dominant Shona language as well as Ndebele and English.

Tuku’s music is heavily influenced by a humanist chimurenga ethos, which, in turn, is inspired by the hypnotic rhythms of the mbira (thumb piano). His music also incorporates South Africa mbaqanga, the energetic Zimbabwean pop style jit, and the traditional kateke drumming of his clan. One of Tuku’s biggest fans is Bonnie Raitt, who has not only called Tuku “a treasure,” and recorded a cover of “Hear me Lord” but also credits Tuku as the inspiration for the song “One Belief Away” on her album Fundamental.

Tuku (along with Angelique Kidjo, Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo) is one of the most successful African recordings artists in North America, having sold hundreds of thousand of records on Putumayo, Heads Up/Telarc and Sheer Sound. Tuku is an alumni of Acoustic Africa II (2011 edition) and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern and Southern Africa, focusing on Young People’s Development and HIV and AIDS Prevention.