Meet the Rising Zimbabwean Legend…Edith WeUtonga
31 March 2015
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Who Is She?
Edith WeUtonga is a Zimbabwean rising musician and songwriter. She has led the Utonga band since its formation in 2010. Utonga means dawn in the Shona language. Hence, the artist we know today as Edith WeUtonga – Edith of Dawn – thus the emergence. The songs, the mood, the release and the impact all fall in sync with her situation. 

Playing an authentically Zimbabwean sound laced with JitiChimurenga and Shona folk she experiments with a variety of music genres including Jazz, Rhumba, Reggae and Calypso. In 2010 Utonga released a ten track effort titled UTONGA. That effort catapulted the group into national fame. In weeks, Edith would become one of Zimbabwe’s most prominent stars at some major venues.
Notable to her festival performances was her debut act at the 2012 INTWASA Festival koBulawayo, 2013 Women in Jazz, Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) main stage act of 2012 as well as her Global Stage collaboration with Busi Ncube at the same Festival in 2013.  Edith released her second album KWACHA in 2013. The album became one of Zimbabwe’s leading musical lights with a crossover appeal. The singer has twice been nominated for and won the Best Female Musician at Zimbabwe’s premier NAMA Awards, as well as the Zimbabwe Music Awards. Continue reading…
Edith starred in The Comeback 2012, a one woman musical theatre show, for which she was nominated and scooped the Best Actress (Theatre) award at the NAMA Awards. She never looked back and would eventually become the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Musicians Union. To date, Edith has performed in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and India.
Edith Katiji was born in Kadoma. Her early childhood stay with Christian grandparents exposed her to some gospel music as her aunties and uncles were avid singers who taught her harmonies and leading vocals. Her early years in the church saw her sing, perform in theatre arts and dance for congregants. Her very first experience to sing for a congregation had been like de javu as she sang with joy and pride.
Just after attending Chedonje Primary School in Rimuka, she left for Bulawayo to join her parents as she attended Townsend Girls High School. Just after her O-Levels, she exploited her father’s military service tenure and would be allowed to share professional moments with the Army Band at Brady Barracks. That experience through associating with the military built her early music foundations while she also garnered some tricks on discipline and focus. Shortly afterwards, she joined the famed Amakhosi Township Square where she polished some skills in song writing and stage craft. Under some great music teachers at the Square, she became the lead singer of AMAKHOSIKAZI, an all-female ensemble playing various music genres. Even her current depth, knowledge and uniqueness of various music styles resemble the AMAKHOSKAZI experience.
From -Amakhosikazi, Edith went on to form her very first band, a hippy all-female troupe called SO WHAT?! While they never recorded any music as a group, they would rise to public fame through dotted national performances.
In 2008, Edith was involved in a fatal car crash that placed her in a coma for weeks. The same accident killed her passenger-friend and left another passenger critically injured. Upon recovery she returned to the stage to celebrate a second chance to live as she vowed to rebrand her music and get a bit more serious with her career. Inspired by the second chance to live after escaping the jaws of death, while unknowingly pregnant, she saw a God-driven purpose to have that second chance fulfilled through a celebrated life with her own music. It was like a new dawn that had arrived in her life and she had to wake up to claim it.
Edith is a married mother of four children (3 boys and a girl). Her husband is also in the arts and together they also have an aside concern called A Family Affair Productions which serves as their record label. Since she is an Indie artist, their house is literally full of joy, laughter and child’s play. The family plays and has fun together as the parents’ inner-childishness is let out. Edith’s family is her first audience in the living room where she sings and gets mocked at, among  friendly jeers  and serious feedback.
TV Series as “Amai Shupi”
Besides music, Edith never dropped her theatre skills that were polished at the Amakhosikazi. She was cast in about 3 plays that toured professionally at national and regional level. Acting as Amai Shupi, she was also in the popular TV series SINJALO with the late Mackey Tickeys (Sakhamuzi) and Fortune Ruzungunde. But her unforgettable moments was when she got an actress award through the play “THE COMEBACK”. This was a one woman piece with great music – She had a privilege to perform in a dozen characters as she also sang and played her bass guitar. Besides theatre, Edith is also an accomplished events MC, having done that at numerous functions. Currently, her favorite pastime is to teach guitar lessons at the Music Crossroads Academy in Harare. Interestingly, she taught herself how to play and now she changes aspiring musicians’ lives!
Childhood Music Stars
Edith was star-struck by rhumba stars, Yondo Sister and Pepe Kalle for their thumping bass lines and fine rhythms. Later, she would know more about Babyface and literally fall in love with him. Besides these, she has an open ear to a lot of music genres across the globe. Having been born to a parent with Malawian origins, there was a lot of regional music in their house…Mulemena Boys were an additional prominent feature. She was also a fan of the late Chiwoniso Maraire’s Ancient Voices album as a young lady and she revered her as a unique star. Of course Yondo Sister ranked tops.
Musical Motivation
After high school, Edith planned to study Journalism and Clothing Technology in College. A few weeks before starting classes, she got an invitation call from Amakhosikazi all-female ensemble. She jumped on it as her mother felt betrayed on her daughter’s plans. Within months, they toured the country with Amakhosikazi as Edith composed music. She became the front singer and band leader. From that experience, she never looked back on her music career.
One of Edith’s uncles, Godfrey Duncan was a great mentor to her. This was a man who was never trained to read or write music but could do what any expert can be paid for. Edith spent a lot of time with him learning tricks on reading, writing and singing music. Uncle Godfrey taught Edith to listen to the different vocal ranges in a song. At Amakhosi, Edith met a Tanzanian national named Steve ‘Madowadowa’. He was a resource teacher and a great music mentor. Steve emphasized on the art of continued practice until any piece was perfected through good results. With that mentorship, Edith picked the bass guitar on her own and months later, she mastered it as she could strum the strings like a star.
Music Genre
While many fans think that Edith plays jazz, she plays a contemporary type of traditional music. With that comes a traditional Shona Folklore type bass that she fuses with other influences of choice. It’s her special way of expressing herself without hindrance. Through her music, it’s possible to hear some influences of Jiti, Chimurenga, rock, jazz and even calypso.
The Music Sales Issue
In this day, it is not feasible for artists to make astronomical sales the world over. Trends in the music business have changed. Piracy has come in to sweep the music talent away. That’s most unfortunate and in a tiny economy like that of Zimbabwe, artists are entirely crippled by this scourge.  However, there are other factors that have diminished the sales of CD’s like music being available on various electronic platforms. Social dynamics now persuade younger fans to opt for non-cd carriers of music. However Edith believes that a CD is now like a business card that can be used to promote a musician’s career through marketing and publicity. Edith humbly notes that she has mainly toured more on the strength of her releases and less on the impact of their sales.
Dreams With Her Music Career
Edith dreams to conquer the World as she takes her music to all parts of the globe. While it may sound a mere dream, Edith believes that she must roll her sleeves and just be ready to get down to do the dirty work and accomplish her goals. Music business is a struggle, she admits. But she won’t look back and she must share her stories, experiences and ambitions – Sharing the Zimbabwe musical experience with the rest of the World.
Stars Edith Shared The Stage With
Edith feels fortunate to have shared the stage with musicians like Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Busi Ncube, Oliver Mtukudzi and Ishmaelo. Besides these, she has also shared the stage and recorded a duet with her favourite underground US Based soft rock band, Publish The Quest, who she feels are just a heartbeat from becoming global superstars. Apart from shared stage moments, she also deeply cherishes the album she has recorded with the late Chioniso Maraire.
Band Membership
As a breathing organization, some members have come and left through the option to advance their careers either as new band leaders or as solo artists. Such a flexible approach to the music scene has given many a chance to make decisions that matter. Of course the group maintains a seven piece band made of players of the guitar, bass, drum, keys, percussion, vocals and a rhythm section.
Frequency of Live Shows
As a female musician, she at times feels forgotten as male promoters mainly prefer male musicians and contracts are secured through social hang outs and shared drinks at the pub or just through “street brotherly conversations”. Stage-warming events, promotional gigs and the like normally catch the man first before the woman who is normally home attending to family issues. There is still more leverage required for the female singer to be at par with the male singer. At times, some uncouth promoters may even cross the line and demand sexual favors before any deals can happen. Such unprofessionalism is not rare in the game. But the best way out, Edith believes, is to let the music do the talking. There is need for serious investment in music promotion so that the ground is leveled for equal opportunity. Through not placing all her eggs in a single basket, Edith has also been going out to source contracts to perform in corporate ventures. Eventually, A Family Affair Productions which she runs with her husband, will be registered as a promoter and hopefully get into the business of promoting music and musicians – as it should be done. She thinks she is qualified to speak the language having been in the trenches.
Public Acceptance Ratings
Edith is grateful for a loyal fan base that has given her a lot of confidence to do better. Her music has been called ‘fresh’, ‘beautiful’, ‘new’ and ‘exciting’. Countrywide fans have remained supportive through shows and cd purchases. She feels there is enough room to build a big fan base. Her only issues are that the current breed of promoters mainly opt for either men or those with big names. They seem to be overlooking the forgotten stones that could become the heads of the cornerstone.
Social Media
Edith is on Facebook, Linked In, Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter, Viber, skype and Soundcloud etc She kindly asked fans to follow and even “Like” her FB page under Edith WeUtonga, Skype name WEUTONGA.KWACHA. Her website is:
Her Last Gig
She last performed at a private function on a SADC gathering. The diverse patrons in attendance were carried away by her music and even “understood” her lyrics. That gig also opened doors to more opportunities and future engagements across the region.
Immediate Plans
Edith hopes to keep recording and building a catalogue that speaks for itself. She also wants to invest more into music video production to reach out to global fans through channels like YouTube. She also plans to spread her music more in the African context, to engage communities and get them to enjoy, learn, reflect and reminisce.
Edith is into baking. Her family loves her confections. She also enjoys preparing her kids’ school lunch boxes that she loads with her cooking. She is an avid reader who is into inspirational biographies and non-fiction material.
Last Word
Edith thanks all the fans for such wonderful support and constructive criticism. She kindly asks that any form of feedback be kept coming for that’s the only way she can change and grow in her music career.

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