LOS ANGELES-BASED Zimbabwean musician-cum-producer and songwriter Shingai “Vaeso” Manhambara has been flying the country’s flag high showing that there is merit in producing music and maintaining a person’s independence. Vaeso has done collaborations with Grammy nominated producers Dr Chai, Bantu and Tapiwa Mugadza.
His works have also shown through his collaborative and show stopping performances with pop sensation Maxime Boublil, son of the legendary music composer and song writer Alain Boublil, and many other established American artists.
Vaeso, who was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, says he discovered his passion for music at a tender age of 11 during his days at Hartmann House Primary School in the capital city, where he used to perform in the school choir. His first taste of success came at the age of 18 with the song Moochie, which was one of the country’s most critically acclaimed songs.
Vaeso was also one of the first hip hop artists to be premiered on ZiFm radio by the now late Zororo Makamba, his release El Amor was broadcast to more than one million listeners and managed to certify Vaeso as one of Zimbabwe’s brightest hip hop talents.
Not having been born into a musical family, he said the journey for him into music was about self-discovery, self-expression and the discipline, which he shows this through his unique sound choices, and two academic achievements, one of which includes a Master Degree in Music Production and Sound Design for Visual media.
In an interview with Zimbabwe Independent Xtra this week, Vaeso said he wanted to inspire children from Zimbabwe to know that they can go to school and still make music, or be artistic.
He said they just need to work very hard and stay focused. Vaeso has also managed to display that his musical abilities are like no other.
Having been introduced to music production and song-writing by long-time friends and collaborators Dr Chaii (Philip Kembo) and Bantu (Tinashe Sibanda), his journey began. Locally Vaeso has worked with some of the country’s top musicians including Tapiwa “Taps” Mugadza and Simba Tags, Black Fin and Grammy nominated Dr Chaii, and Bantu.
Seen as both a pioneer and visionary by his peers, Vaeso has transcended typical stereotypes associated with hip hop, asserting that he wants to help push music and hip hop to a place beyond materialism.
Vaeso has rubbed shoulders with some of the best writers and musicians locally and internationally, an indication that the best is yet to come.
Vaeso said his goal was to write and produce for Pharell, and Kanye West.
He is also working with award-winning United States producers, whom he said were helping him perfect his skills. Vaeso is also making his first appearances in musical theatre, where some of his songs are being repurposed for a musical production by legendary music writer, composer and theatrical producer Alain Boublil, who wrote and produced Les Miserables.
Vaeso states that this is only the beginning of what he hopes is going to be a long career of music writing and producing. Speaking from his Los Angeles base, Vaeso said he was happy to be rubbing shoulders with internationally-acclaimed musicians.
“To be in the studio with an artiste and writer that I have admired for years was something special to me, and a sign that hard work will always be rewarded,” Vaeso said.
“I believe through courage and determination, I will definitely achieve my desired goals in my music journey that I also want to inspire my fellow Zimbabweans to have the courage to chase their dreams.”
Vaeso praises Grammy Award-winning Zimbabwean-born Brian Shoko, who produced Beyoncé’s song Drunk in Love and Grammy nominated producers Tinashe Sibanda and Philip Kembo, who co-produced a duet by Chris Brown and Rita Ora titled Body On Me.
He said the duo has done a good job, demonstrating that local producers can also make it big on the international stage.