With Raymond Millagre Langa
EVERY artist has a dream and it is to be famous and known for their work and creativity.
In our current society every artist wants to trend and have a following on different platforms like social media, and to live the artistic glory.
Some artists are lucky enough because their dreams to be famous and rich comes into fruition as fast as possible. But the majority of young artists in the country wear the tag of ‘up and coming artists’ for a long time, with no support or sponsorship. They keep hustling every day.
I have seen several artists that hang on in the music industry hoping that maybe one day they will produce that art piece – be it a song, dance routine, visual art, poem or prose book that will instantly bask in magnificence.
An artist that is committed to their artistry needs to learn the art of perseverance, which in turn yields success and growth. For example in agriculture, poultry, or horticulture, the farmer plants the crop and nurtures it till it is ripe for harvest. If it is a chicken farmer, they need to feed the birds for months until they are ready for slaughter.
It is also the same with acquisition of education, a student needs to persevere and work hard at every stage. One can never graduate with a PhD degree if they did not go through Grade 1. It means that every stage is important.
Art is something that also needs nurturing in order for it to develop to stardom. Artistic work is also embedded in the art of perseverance and patience, which are driven by passion. This means that an artist who is driven by passion can withstand the challenges in the field of entertainment, and be able to face the hurdles and the challenges of the arts industry head on.
I am always inspired when I read about the late music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi’s history of perseverance. His first song Stop after Orange never made it, but he did not stop pursuing his musical passion. Years later when he was in his 40s and 50s; Tuku became an internationally recognised superstar. His music was unique and very exportable.
One hurdle many artists in Zimbabwe face is that of lack of funding and grants that can be used in the sustenance of their artistic endeavors and thereby making art viable as a means of livelihood sustenance.
Due to the wish of becoming an instant star and to find means of livelihood due to high unemployment rates in the country, several artists, especially musicians end up creating rushed products. For female artists, they end up using their sexuality just to get that recognition without really developing their artistry.
However, if one were to interview successful artists like Thomas Mapfumo, one would discover that they have stories of humble beginnings, where they started by performing at bars before filling up stadiums. It was perseverance and humble beginnings that made their art sprout into something of grandeur.
An artist does not blow out from nowhere to success. All successful artists have stories of the pain that they had to endure to stardom. There are many examples of legends like Bob Marley who had humble beginnings and became international superstars.
Singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran is another example of how as an artist the road to success and fame is never easy as he had a story of rejection and consistent struggle from being a street performer to a renowned superstar.
I have met several youthful artists in different studios and all of them live in the dream or fantasy of becoming instantly successful through selling their art. The new digital technological ambiance has created the mirage and appearance of a viable arts industry that caters for every artist, and will open doors of success for artists.
But the sad reality is that the arts industry in Zimbabwe is a dog eat dog world where those with the money and power, and those that have the right connections will make it. This is a reality that artists seldom speak about; where there is the artistic elite who seek to take dominance and control the industry at the expense of the broke and upcoming artist.
Despite that, the arts industry is controlled by some people that some artists might not really want to be associated with. The best thing for an artist to do is to be very creative, and fight their way through each and every day and in every way until they make it.
An artist can never go wrong if they create good content which can attract attention, and if possible, sponsorship and investors into the craft. This means creating original content and art works that tell a story which connects to the everyday realities of the society and target audiences.
Art requires the creative to take calculative steps and to avoid rushing. The rushed up hustle has been a downfall for many creatives. They rush to the top. The rush has also seen many creatives succumbing to the ravages of HIV-AIDS and drugs because of the inability to be focused and persevere.
The youthful artists need to develop a sense of focus where they are not taken by the waves, but are able to stand the ground and to face the challenges of the arts industry, which need hard work and perseverance.
I reminisce on the words my mother continually tells me “keep on fighting” as the art of perseverance will yield success. The value of true art is something that continually matures just like good wine.
Instant stardom is difficult to handle and normally comes with pride; while hard work teaches one to be humble, and to also respect other people’s art because in Zimbabwe art is passion.
- Raymond Millagre Langa is a musician, poet, writer, orator and founder of Indebo Edutainment Trust. Follow Raymond Millagre Langa on Facebook or Instagram on @Millagre Ray L; email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org