OLIVER MTUKUDZI, living Tuku music in Zimbabwe

: Kyker (J.)

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290pp., illus., paperback, Bloomington, 2016


A biography of Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi (1952-2019), a Zimbabwean guitarist, vocalist and composer who performed worldwide and released some 50 albums. Mtukudzi blended Zimbabwean traditional sounds with South African township music and American gospel and soul to compose what is known as Tuku Music. Kyker examines his distinctive performance style using the Shona concept of hunhu, or human identity through moral relationships, as a framework.

“This is an excellent expanded professional biography of Oliver Mtukudzi, the famous Zimbabwean popular band leader, composer, and troubadour. Jennifer W. Kyker has dedicated many months of tireless on-site research in Zimbabwe and internationally to provide this kind of loving detail. The results of such a wealth of interviews and interactions with a range of participants in Mtukuzdi's career as well as Mtukudzi himself are richly evident not only in the main text but in the 'dialogue boxes' of selections from interviews and other materials thoughtfully provided at the end, along with several appendices and a photo gallery.” David Coplan, author of In Township Tonight!

“Informed by two decades of intimate engagement with Zimbabwean music and religion, Kyker’s study offers the first sustained examination of Oliver Mtukudzi’s oeuvre, and reveals the rich political literacies at work in local and diasporic practices of listening. Kyker illumines how audiences and performers collaborate to make meaning. Along with exemplary analyses of his musical idiom, this work shows how, like deep Shona proverbs, Tuku’s lyrics are frequently transplanted into varying contemporary commentaries. Innovative, meticulous, and exquisitely attentive to historical context, this study will be a must-read for the fields of ethnomusicology, African languages, and new African diaspora studies.” Tsitsi Jaji, author of Africa in Stereo: modernism, music and Pan-African solidarity

Jennifer Kyker holds a joint appointment as Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Eastman School of Music and the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering at the University of Rochester.