BATTLELINES have been drawn!
The “rivalry” between sungura musicians Alick Macheso and Mark Ngwazi is set to be rekindled as they battle for the National Arts Merit Award (Nama) People’s Choice Award supremacy.
The Nama awards, meant to celebrate local arts and cultural excellence, will be held under the theme Unlocking Dreams this Saturday at the Harare International Conference.
In June last year, there were serious comparisons on different social media platforms as to who had produced the best album after Macheso released Tinosvitswa Nashe, while Ngwazi offered Nharo Nezvine Nharo just a week after the former’s launch.
The debate divided sungura music lovers.
No doubt, Ngwazi appears to have done exceptionally well on his seven-track album Nharo Nezvine Nharo that has catapulted him into the limelight and also opened doors for him in his career.
The album earned him a double nomination at the forthcoming Nama awards where top artistes such as dancehall singer Winky D and Jah Prayzah are missing on the list of nominees.
Among the top singers, Baba Sharo, as Macheso is fondly known to his legions of fans, has the public to thank after they voted for him to join the four artistes shortlisted for the Nama’s People’s Choice Award.
The battle for the People’s Choice Award will also pit gospel singer Dorcas Moyo, dancehall chanter Freeman and actor-cum-comedian Theophilus Gabriel Chigumira as confirmed by the Nama awards organisers, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ).
According to the arts mother body, NACZ to come up with the People’s Choice Award finalists, they invited members of the public to vote for their favourite artistes across genres and background from February 10 to 20.
“All practising Zimbabwean artistes were eligible for consideration (People’s Choice Award) including those who were not nominated for the Nama awards. Votes were cast via the National Arts Merit Awards Facebook and Instagram pages as well as WhatsApp and SMS,” said NACZ spokesperson Rodney Ruwende in a statement.
“Following the amalgamation of votes, the top-five finalists were selected. From February 20 to February 25, members of the public are now invited to vote for the winner of the prestigious Nama People’s Choice Award via the Click N’ Pay chatbot platform: +263 719161399.”
Ruwende said the winning finalist would be announced on Saturday.
While Macheso, who commands a much bigger following than Ngwazi, is missing in the awards’ main categories, his fans are wishing he will do better than the latter who has been nominated under Outstanding Male Artiste and Outstanding Album for Nharo Nezvine Nharo.
Sitting on two nominations, Ngwazi is second from dancehall singer Freeman, who is topping the list of nominees having been nominated for three categories.
Freeman is up for the Outstanding Song for his track titled Zimbabwean Queen, which featured Jamaican singer Chris Martin, Outstanding Album for David and Goliath and the Outstanding Male Artiste.
Also, gospel diva Moyo has been nominated for two categories — Outstanding Female Musician as well as Outstanding Song for her track Tirikutandara.
For the Outstanding Female Musician gong, Moyo faces stiff competition from Afro-jazz musician Feli Nandi and veteran songbird Sandra Ndebele.
From the five artistes battling for honours for the People’s Choice Award, it seems the odds favour Freeman, Macheso and Ngwazi though not underestimating the potential of Moyo and Chigumira, who appear to also have a good following.
With the stage set for the awards, guests during the interlude, will be entertained by a star-studded line-up of songbird Gemma Griffiths, mbira queen Hope Masike, Mai Titi, Tocky Vibes, Poptain, Feli Nandi and poet Obert Dube.
Also, to perform at the event is gospel singer Mathias Mhere, hip-hop stars Saintfloew and Holy 10, dancehall singer Freeman, Andrea the Vocalist, songstress Ammara Brown, urban groover ExQ and DJ Tamuka.
The awards event hosts are media personalities Godfrey Chief Koti and Charlene Mangweni Furusa and Griffiths.