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Cover songs: Local acts lose the plot

Originality and authenticity have been lacking among local bands when it comes to live performances. This has seen artistes failing to widen their fan bases which they desperately need to build their reputations.

Instead of spreading their original compositions, they tend to favour cover songs by popular local and international acts.

Just last week, Bulawayo group Iyasa made the grave error of performing covers of Brenda Fassie and Michael Jackson for an audience of international cultural and art practitioners who were in the country for the “Culture at Work Conference”.

Iyasa is a widely-travelled group that has vast experience performing for an international audience. Performing covers would make one wonder if they are representing the country well when they travel.

Yes, they do put up an amazing show of the covers, but this will not propel them to greater heights.

This was an opportunity to expose their talent to a wider audience, given that they were performing for guests from 15 African countries and non-governmental organisations, among them festival directors.

The same has been happening with many upcoming bands, most of which have faded into oblivion.

Many may remember Mic Inity, a reggae musician who would put up a stellar performance on stage, but alas, most of his songs were covers.

He would stage great covers of reggae greats, among them Buju Banton, Gregory Isaacs, Morgan Heritage and Bob Marley, that when he then slips in his music no one would notice the difference.

That became the problem; his music never got the attention it deserves because many people thought the songs were covers.

Mic Inity would have had easily broken onto the international market.

Reggae music lovers rate him way above the likes of Winky D and other Zimdancehall stars that came after him. His successor at Transit Crew, Mannex Motsi, suffers the same fate, having built his stage career on covers.

Artistes should realise that the concept of live performances is to give their audience a taste of their music.

For little-known musicians, this is the time to share their music and earn even more fans.

We had Michael Jackson, we had Brenda Fassie, and we love what they brought to the table, their own creations.

Locally, we have Mokoomba whose international praise and following was drawn from their original Tonga music.

Even with great voices, if all these artistes had chosen to build their careers on covers, they would not have risen to international stardom; something our rising musicians should always contemplate on before going on stage.

Credit: Herald --

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