Audius comes home to roost

2/9/2012

Thursday, 09 February 2012 00:00
Fatima Bulla Entertainment Reporter

The Diaspora pastures have always seemed greener for many but rhythm and blues musician Audius Mtawarira thinks otherwise and reckons home has become greener than anywhere else. Having lived in Australia since 1996, Mtawarira says that this is the perfect time to settle down at home.

"I have been in the country since August and I brought everything to settle down comfortably here though I have been keeping a low profile at my farm in Mazowe.
"Gone are the days when the Diasporans used to send huge sums of money back home and this prompted me to return home. Now I am trying my hands on maize farming and I have also set my sights on setting up a mining company, but that does not mean I have left the music industry because I want to help develop raw talent while ensuring proper co-ordination between artistes, producers and the record companies," he said.

Mtawarira, who rose to fame with the hit song "If Only You Knew" in 2002, says he has found out that it is more lucrative to produce music.
"I was the in-house producer for Sony Music headquarters in Australia where I wrote and produced music for artistes on the Sony roster both locally and internationally. Since my job made me work with top musicians and producers I became more experienced in music production. My artistic development, audio production and engineering skills were also enhanced at that time. It was at this time that I got several awards and nominations by APRA, winning Song of the Year through ARIA Music Awards," he said.
Mtawarira continued to scale dizzy heights as he soon took the position of art director at Sony Publishing where he would direct
various projects.

"Most of my work received critical acclaim and during this period apart from having several nominations I won the APRA Song of the Year award for the second time. My association with Sony Publishing hence curtailed me from creating my own publishing label called BlindFaith Publishing, which is still functioning today," Mtawarira added.

As the chief executive of BlindFaith Publishing, between 2007 and 2010 Mtawarira teamed up with Jamie Huber to set up the Sound Academy, a second business meant for project development catering for advertising agencies, record companies and individuals.

That same year, Mtawarira was to sign a publishing contract with Universal Publishing worldwide were his material was published throughout the regions.
"This contract enables me to access several profiles that are also under Universal Publishing umbrella. I will continue to provide them with material, as they will be representing my work for the next six years. Due to my affiliation with Sony Publishing I now have access to profiles from two of the largest publishing companies in the world," he said.

Mtawarira has written and produced albums for Australian Idol contestants like Ricki Lee Coulter's Hell No and Pauline's One determined heart.
He also collaborated with Delta Goodrem, producing a single "Born To Try" which spent three months in the top five while selling over 210 000 copies.

While he has had a chance to work with artistes like R Kelly, Joe Thomas, Faith Evans and Wanya Morris from the group Boys II Men, the father of two said quality control in the music industry is important to ensure the market takes urban grooves seriously.
"Wherever I went and people discovered I was from Zimbabwe they would always ask me if I was a musician. It is good that now due to keeping up with developmental trends, the music industry has opened for everyone.

"But there has to be a filter so that artistes are taken seriously. Artistes need to command huge followings in halls, stadia, doing advertisements for companies while also having airplay on radio and selling many records then it can be considered a breakthrough," Mtawarira said.

Mtawarira said he is set to engage Indonesian artistes as he works towards his next album.

For someone who began music as a hobby while enrolled at Cortin University in Perth where he was studying Graphic Design, Mtawarira's solo recordings have garnered him popularity in Zimbabwe and the region. He has released four albums - "Audius" (2002), "Ever After" (2003), "Music and Me" (2005) and "Day Like This" (2008).

The 34-year-old said his target had always been his fans at home while he concentrated on producing music in Australia.
"I did not release more albums for the Australian market than I did for people back here. Now I hope to discover talent as I do not see any logic in working with established musicians."