There are two types of singers. First, there are people who sing in a way that makes people enjoy their singing. But a rear talent amongst us, are people who sing in a way that affects us. Throughout my childhood I had heard of people who were able to do the latter. From Michael Jackson, Whitney Huston and so on. But I had never seen it. Until I saw Oliver Mtukudzi.
It was on the TV show Phat Joe Live in the late ‘90s. Tuku had just done an interview with Majota Kambule and was supposed to play a song at the end of the show.
All he had a stool, a microphone and an electric guitar. One of those new age contraptions, which to be honest, looked like a Spanish guitar and Kora had a one night stand; and produced something that looked very electrical. But had a very acoustic sound to it at the same time.
Anyway, Tuku went on. Cutting a towering figure, guitar in hand and continued to sing the song “Help me God, I am feeling low.” Right there Phat Joe broke down and cried. He just broke down and cried, live on national TV. I can still remember the look on his face as he waved us goodbye, struggling to do the final link. And off course being a live TV show they could not edit that out.
I later came to learn that the show was reaching its end. I suppose as executive producer, Phat Joe knew something that we didn’t know. And so the whole incident looked strange to us at home. It was also at a time when social media was not even a idea, as you could have imagined. If something like that happened today, it would have been mayhem.
Here with another late great Hugh Masekela. I wonder what the pearly gates are looking like as this legend joins the rest. Though Oliver Motukudzi has left a body of work that spans 60 albums, since the mid70s. I can’t help but think that he went way too soon. Sixty six was too young. But as they say, a library has just burnt down.