Sulumani ‘Sulu’ Chimbetu: In A League Of His Own

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – Award winning Dendera musician Sulumani ‘Sulu’ Chimbetu is certainly building a niche for himself in Zimbabwe’s fledgling musical space.

Judging from the trajectory of his musical career thus far, Chimbetu, son to one of the country’s most celebrated musicians, Simon “Chopper” Chimbetu, is set to secure a place in the sungura music hall of fame. At the same time, he is keeping the well-renowned legacy of his father alive.

By any count, Sulu has managed to revive the sound that his father named “Dendera,”  – a form of sungura music – and infuse it with pomp, liveliness and powerful lyrics that have catapulted his career to greater heights. Sulu currently ranks among the tops artists in Zimbabwe and judging from his polished acts his better days are still ahead.

The artiste, who regards his late father, Bob Marley, and Oliver Mtukudzi as his heroes has never looked back since 2004 when he was roped in the Orchestra Dendera Kings structures until his father died in August 2005.

Just like his father, the Sulu is charismatic and full of ideas, and has been showing his blooming musical prowess by dishing out consecutive scorchers of albums.

To date the sungura maestro has released three albums, including, Ndomusiya Nani [1997], Reverse Deal [2009] and Non Stop [2010], which featured music maestro, Oliver Mtukudzi, his uncle Allan Chimbetu and saxophonist Philip Svosve.

His debut album was voted Outstanding Album of the Year 2006. One of his musical videos was listed on the ZBC Top 100 videos in 2008.

His second album “Reverse Deal”, released in 2009, won the Zimbabwe National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) for Outstanding Album of the Year Award. The musician’s popularity and confidence have been on the rise since the release of his chart-topping album “Non-Stop” but the youthful musician is still aiming high.

“I am not yet satisfied with my work, I need to go a bit higher. I need to be at the top of the game, but for now I can’t complain — I believe I have managed to achieve a great deal,” said Sulu in a recent interview.

Born in Chegutu, August 1982, Sulu has certainly improved immensely since his debut award-winning release Ndomusiya Nani, he has definitely become a force to reckon with in sungura music circles.

Chimbetu has managed to inherit his musical legalcy and infuse it with youthful energy which has endeared him to many music fans in Zimbabwe. The 28-year-old crooner’s stage presence is exquisite. His act is well choreographed, capped with lyrics that are like honey to the ears.

His music appeals to both young and old. It’s interesting that anyone who listened to his father’s music can identify commonalities between the two.

Their voice projection is one and the same thing including the beat yet he has managed to put a cool swag to his sound. If anything, Chimbetu has managed to revive sungura music in the 21st century.

According to music reviewers, Sulu has managed to revolutionise sungura music  it by bringing modern pace to a sound known for its slow, absorbing beat, and in so doing, has made it more appealing to younger people.

Part of what make Zimbabweans fall in love with Chimbetu is his humility and down-to-earth character as well as his love for his fans.

“My fans are my inspiration and they give me energy whenever I am losing hope. “I love them because of their support. “I respect and salute them for their loyalty,” he said.

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