Thembie Samupindi has vowed to break the mould in chauvinistic showbiz circles by becoming the first female arts promoter to revive neglected talent in the eastern region
Samupindi bemoaned the fact that male promoters in the city were ignoring local artists and prioritising sungura and dendera genres at the expense of others.
“We need to break the mould to be honest. It would be nice to have more women involved in the industry. We need to be tough, and I need to be tough as well. So I am prepared to take the challenge,” she said.
This comes at a time when prominent promoters, such as Esau Mupfumi, Obey ‘Big Fish’ Hove and Brian Samaita, mainly promote artists from outside the city. The shows are generally lined up for the weekend.
Samupindi said her promising entertainment powerhouse, Warehouse Project Events, was set up to bridge the gap.
“I came up with the idea to promote Mutare artists because revellers here have no variety of places to go. Secondly, the shows mainly feature established musicians from outside the city. Mutare artists have become backbenchers in their own backyard. They don’t get the exposure they so much desire on such platforms,” she said.
The passionate promoter said her research highlighted that some artists had to relocate to Harare to get recognition and bookings. Others had been frustrated by the challenges and given up on their dreams.
“Our venue targets a particular niche that has been neglected entertainment-wise. There are limited venues for other genres such as afro-jazz, classical music, poetry, hip hop and others. So, here we are opening doors to all genres. Most importantly, patrons want to go to a venue when you can take your kids or parents,” she said.
Samupindi studied events management in the United Kingdom, where she lived for the past few years. She worked for a UK corporate events company and gained experience in management and promotion.
She has since launched an Open Mic Session at the Green Coucal, having borrowed the concept from the Book Café. The venue has featured a wide range of promising Mutare artists, from poets and saxophonists to afro-jazz crooners and hip-hoppers.
“I am here to make a name for myself. I named my company Warehouse Project Events for a reason. We are manufacturing showbiz in our warehouse and people who come benefit from what we manufacture,” she said.
Many artists told The Zimbabwean that they were overwhelmed by the success of the platform they had been given by Warehouse Projects.
“This means we don’t have to go to Harare to find work or to get recognition. I am one of the artists that have already performed at some of the shows and it was amazing,” said Memo Madekurwa, an up-and-coming, afro-jazz artist.
Hip hop artist Kudakwashe Machingura, better known as Kritic Igwee, said Warehouse Projects had come at the right time for aspiring artists in the city.