Oliver Mtukudzi teams-up with low-cost airline fastjet to release new song in support of World AIDS Day 2017; New fastjet partnership with (RED) will see proceeds from track sales support the fight against AIDS.
Alongside his fellow composers, Mtukudzi will support (RED) by donating 100% of the proceeds from track sales to support the work of the Global Fund and its efforts to fight AIDS in Africa. ‘Holiday’, released on November 15th, will be available on short code as a caller tune in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique, as well as on iTunes and other digital platforms.
The track combines modern dance music with Oliver Mtukudzi’s powerful vocals, with an underlay of traditional guitar riffs and beats. “The appeal in the song lies in the cross-generational impact that I hope it will have,” says Mtukudzi. “The more sales we have, the more funds we can generate to continue spreading the word about HIV prevention.”
Mtukudzi has campaigned to support the fight against AIDS over the past couple of decades. He said: “We have all been impacted by the disease in some way or another, and a continued concerted global effort to support prevention efforts has to be sustained.”
Every two minutes a teenage becomes infected with HIV, so raising funds for programs that offer prevention, testing and treatment services is critical. While progress in the AIDS fight is strong, there is much work still to do. The number of babies born every day with HIV has fallen by two thirds over the past decade, and with sustained global efforts that number can be near zero by 2020.
Fastjet Chief Executive Officer Nico Bezuidenhout said; “It is our duty as Africans to continue contributing to the growth of our continent while ensuring a sustainable future for everyone. Partnering with (RED) and Oliver Mtukudzi for the ‘Holiday” project is our first step as brand toward contributing to an AIDS free generation.” He adds that fastjet is an airline by Africans for Africans and that it is time for the continent’s home-grown brands to step up to the challenge. “Solutions for Africa should be home-grown and as an active participant in the continent’s economy, we intend being equally active socially.”
The campaign was developed with Content Connect Africa (CCA), one of the largest mobile content providers in Africa. Led by a doyenne of the music industry, Antos Stella, CCA will be managing all aspects of ‘Holiday’s’ distribution and royalty collections. “This is one of the most exciting music projects to originate on the continent for quite some time,” says Stella. “As Africans, African companies and African artists we are assuming the reigns and doing something positive for our own people. To me, that is our ambition as a company and makes every moment of this project worthwhile.” The company also produced the track.
Between recording albums and performing, Oliver also has a passion for film and acted in the first feature comprising an all Zimbabwean cast, Jit. He also penned the soundtrack for its follow-up, Neria, earing him an M-net award in 1992 for Best Soundtrack. His groundbreaking album Tuku Music spent 11 weeks at number one on the CMJ World Music Charts and this was followed by several more chart-topping releases toward the end of the millennium.
Despite being a superstar, now in his earlyMID sixties 64, Oliver is a reluctant hero. “I don’t know what it means to be a celebrity, or famous, if you will. To me, success is taking my message to the people, and the mutual appreciation we have for one another. When I become a successful celebrity, I will tell you what it feels like,” he laughs. He is a man of the people, his music the reflection of everyday challenges, love lost and found and the struggle to survive. His lyrics inspiring, the melodies infectious.
In a small town, 40km or so outside of Zimbabwe on the main artery linking the capital with Bulawayo, Oliver has built his legacy. The Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton is his legacy. What started, as a small project to celebrate Zimbabwean music and culture has become a mammoth development that includes an art gallery, recording studio, auditorium, bar, restaurant and 26 luxury chalets. The Sam Mtukudzi Conference Centre is named after his late son. “It is the culmination of my life’s work,” says Oliver who, according to reports, spent most of his accumulated wealth on the project. His vision, to create an oasis for artists while making access thereof easier for everyone. “It started out really small but,” he says, “we get new ideas every day and develop them as we go along.”
Oliver Mtukudzi is a gentle man, weathered by his own narrative, motivated by a relentless passion and a depth of character that translates easily into every chord and rhyme. After breakfast, looking out onto the car park, Oliver poses pensively for a few snaps. You can see that in his mind’s eye, he is taking in every moment, constantly breathing in the fabric of a continent that has provided him with the treasure of his craft.