Zimbabwean Afro pop star Jah Prayzah is becoming a global force.
Over the past few years, Prayzah’s reputation back home has grown to such a level that crowds often attempt to break down the barricading fences to get closer to him. “It something that happens a lot,” he said. “Maybe it's just the way I perform because people get so happy that they can't contain themselves.”
The prospect of several thousand fanatical supporters breaking through the fence seems like an unsettling one. But Prayzah isn't phased by it, it's just another day in the office. “I'm used to it. I've been on stage for years. I'm cool with it because I know that when people go crazy, they're going crazy because they're enjoying the show.”
Prayzah will be performing as one of the headline acts at this Saturday's Bassline Africa Day concert alongside the likes of Thandiswa Mazwai and Ray Phiri.
It's a show he's looking forward to.Blackness isn’t a costume you can just take off
“We're going to spice it up with some new stuff and some new choreography. We have some new songs, maybe one or two, that we're going to play on the day. Being on stage is my thing. I want people to get to appreciate what I do. They need to feel that the money that they've paid was worth it. I try by all means to give them a show to remember.”
Jah Prayzah. Picture: Supplied
Last year, Prayzah beat out more than a dozen other African superstars to claim the Listener's Choice award at the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs). It's an award he considers as one of the most important moments in his career.
He celebrated the success by throwing a big party back home. “Considering that there was almost 20 artists from different countries and big artists in the category I was nominated in, it came as a surprise to me because honestly speaking I didn't expect to get it. To me that award was a life changer because it changed my profile. It changed everything.” This time around, he's nominated at this year's South African Music Awards (SAMAs) under the category Best African Artist. “There's nothing better than being recognised. So I always appreciate being nominated. It's a big thing to me. It means I'm still going strong.”
To grow his brand around the continent and create a platform to push other upcoming artists, Prayzah recently founded the label Military Touch Movement. Still in its infancy, the label has already signed several local acts and he says to expect some singles soon from the stable.
Right now, Prayzah is still riding the wave of last year's hit single, Mdhara Vachauya. “I wrote that song when I was in the UK. I had gone into the studio with my manager and we met a guy called Rodney who just started playing some of his beats. I just started writing to one of them and then when I came home I fixed it up and reworked it.
I could tell that it was going to be a hit because it was more of a sing along song. You can tell that a song's gonna be a hit when people are singing along to it the first time they hear it.” He loved the song so much that he named his album Mdhara Vachauya.
Prayzah isn't planning on slowing down. He's already working on a number of projects and a lot of collaborations, he said. “I don't wanna disclose the names yet but we have some big projects this year. We also have a number of tours, festivals and big concerts lined up as well. We're doing Canada, Australia, the UK again, the States and a number of African countries.”
One of those African shows is MTN Bushfire in Swaziland this weekend. “This is our first time on this kind of platform,” he says. “So we'd love to show our usual show because we're playing for a different audience. We just want to try and keep it traditional and original.”
Originality is one of Prayzah’s most valuable attributes, and it will be on full view this Saturday as he graces the stage at Bassline Africa Day.
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