Name: Alexio Kawara
Born: November 28, 1978
Home Town: Harare
Marital Status: Married
NOVEMBER 28, 1978, was just another day for many. But in Harare’s Glen Norah suburb, the Kawara family was counting its blessings: the birth of a son who would grow up to entertain thousands, if not millions of people in his lifetime.
Alexio Kawara was born into a family of five children – all of whom would become musicians with varying degrees of success.
It was not an easy or comfortable upbringing, the dusty streets of Glen Norah colouring the tiny bare feet of young Alexio – a harsh welcome to humanity’s rat race of hope and dreams.
Those who knew young Alexio fondly remember that he had a deep-seated passion for music even in those formative years.
The young Alexio attended the local school, Shiriyedenga Primary, from 1985 to 1991, before enrolling at Mazowe High School from 1991 to 1995, and subsequently Vainona High School for his A’ Levels.
Alexio’s talent was evident as he became a key member of the school choir everywhere he went, but not in his wildest dreams did he imagine that entertainment would become his life vocation.
He had a secret love affair with music, although he daren’t mention it to his parents in a country where the young are prepared for formal education. So he kept his secret affair with music his mistress.
After school, Alexio would discover that breaking into the mainstream recording industry was a tough hymen to tear. Zimbabweans could not sing passionately with love and soul, and sell records, studios decided. To make it, one had to sing sungura and other fast paced ‘low-end’ mass market music genres.
Alexio and friends came together to form a group called ?uess (Guess), and they soon attracted the attention of urban music patriarch Delani Makhalima.
Under Makhalima’s watch, Alexio wrote and put his vocals on the song, Amai, which was released on a compilation CD in 2000.
The artist Alexio had arrived, and he was hungry for more. He wanted to be heard, to gallop into the distance like a wild horse. So he decided to go solo, and in 2003 he released his debut album, Usazondisiya (Don’t Leave Me), which had hit songs like Kumba Kwenyu (Your Home) and the epic, Ndinomhanya.
The next year, Rwiyo Rwangu (My Song) dropped, instantly becoming an urban music phenomenon, carried by the hit, Chibvugubvugu.
Those early successes did little to smoothe the rough in an industry in which slave driving is the norm.
He was not to be deterred. His next project was a contribution to the compilation album, Machikichori. The track Musikana Akanaka (A Beautiful Girl) was a gem which would be remixed and re-released on his next album, Pfimbi Yangu (My Special Place/ My Place of Solace) which spawned the hit, Tinodanana (We Are in Love).
Alexio's fourth album, Kana, was the final statement that he had arrived. The album featured top artists including Andy Brown, Clive ‘Mono’ Mkundu, Newman Chipeni and Philip Svosve of the late James Chimombe's Ocean City Band.
The album was pregnant with hit songs including the chart topping Karwiyo Aka, Nyaya Yerudo and his undisputed biggest hit of them all: Shaina (Shine). Shaina had a powerful message relevant to a Zimbabwe then begging for answers in the midst of political upheavals and economic decay.
The success of the album saw the birth of his band, Shades of Black, as he explored the world of live music.
Alexio was now unstoppable. He had, after all, defined the turn of the decade with the most electrifying ballad of modern times in Shaina. The song shattered the stereotypes. Young, old, black, white, male, female… everyone caught the bug.
What followed Shaina was silence. Alexio had gone on a sabbatical.
He explains: “Well I had just decided to tap into my creative juices and work on something at my own artistic pace. I wanted something that would continue to be of great quality and not a mere project to satisfy the market commercially.”
Shaina was more than a song; it was a yardstick with which his future works would be measured, and defined. It was the equivalent of what Thriller was to Michael Jackson.
“I knew the subsequent product had to reflect the magic that was captured in Shaina. It illuminated my career,” he says.
He had created a monster, and in his quieter moments it did occur to him that he had probably raised the bar too high, Shaina was probably the pinnacle of his career.
But he went back into the studio and in October last year the follow-up arrived in the form of Tose, his fifth album.
The 13-track album is a work dedicated to love, devotion and social commentary.
“I wanted it to be a powerful album, following on the career defining Kana,” Alexio says.
From Save, the opening track, right up to Dear Sons and Daughters, Kawara explores the magnificence of life, the ups and downs, pain and sorrow, joy and elation and even climate change. It is an album one must buy and make up their own mind about its depth, its perfection.
Tose was confirmation that Alexio is back again and he is recharged, ready to shine.
ALEXIO KAWARA: SHAINA
ALEXIO KAWARA: AMAI
ALEXIO KAWARA: NDINOMHANYA