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Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi
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Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi
Somerville Theatre
-June 11th, 2005
By Jessamyn Cuneo

"Where I come from, music is like food," said Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi to the lively crowd in front of him. The crowd roared at him-hungry for more of what he was serving. This native from Zimbabwe is one of Africa's top-selling artists, and played and as the bongos kicked in, the two brightly-dressed dancers with maracas began shaking, and everyone broke into dance. The sound that poured from the speakers was delicious, and had the audience on their feet and smiling throughout the entire concert. At one point, Tuku and his crew of dancers lined up to do the shovel. Tuku looked truly happy, and danced with youthful, fun steps that managed to provoke loud enough laughter to hear over the music.

Before Tuku was onstage, and before there were over 900 people packed inside the Somerville Theatre, he had a few minutes to speak to Boston Live Magazine. I quickly discovered that he was a musician in the truest sense of the word; he spoke from the heart, and didn't waste a word. He had the look of a tired soldier who's seen too much. I almost didn't recognize him when he was up onstage later on-his whole person seemed to just lighten up and shine. The only time he smiled during the questions was at the mention of his late parents; apparently both were musicians who passed the torch along to Tuku.

Tuku enjoys playing "wherever there's people." His favorite parts of being a musician are "being on stage, and giving back to the people. My inspiration comes from the people, and from giving back to them." He also credits his parents for inspiring and supporting him on his quest to live a life of music.

His band members look as happy to be up there on stage as he does, so how does he chose the people he performs with? "I can see their characters, I find the people who have self-discipline. Anyone can have talent, what's important is self-discipline."

And while you would expect that America is quite a different place to be touring than Africa, Tuku states that "the only difference is [that] at home, the people sing along." This is better understood when you watch him perform-Tuku gives his all at every performance, so the audiences everywhere are probably always as pumped-up and enthusiastic as they were on Saturday.

Tuku doesn't see a height of his career, he just likes to set higher levels for himself-and he keeps raising his standards. "The sky's the limit," he says with a fluttering hand gesture. He's fueled by passion, and believes that that's all it takes. "If you don't have passion, you can't give 100%."

Tuku has recently released a new album, Nhava, which is available online at He is currently touring the states until the end of June, when he brings the tour up to Canada.

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