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Meet Munya, the Man who makes Tuku, Sulu & Jah Prayzah Shine

They say behind every successful man, there is a strong, wise and hardworking woman, though one might dispute this, many a times it has turned out to be true. 

In music, they say behind every hit making artist, there is a hardworking and creative producer and it is very difficult to dispute that statement.

In recent times, you have enjoyed the sounds of Jah Prayzah with his track ‘Tsviriyo’, but have you ever asked yourself who produced the track? Whilst you ponder in that, just a few months ago, Suluman Chimbetu dropped his fifth album, ‘Gunship’ and though it was received with mixed reactions, tracks from the offering such as ‘Nyuchi’ and ‘Phone’ are amongst the most demanded tracks in the nation, again I ask have you ever asked yourself who was the manufacturer of the album?
Meet Munya, the Man who makes Tuku, Sulu & Jah Prayzah Shine
Whilst you digest on those two questions, remember the days when Sandra Ndebele, Extra Large were on the peak of their careers, who do you think was the man playing key boards for them? 

Today, when you go to a Tuku gig, have noticed a tall dark and chubby looking guy on the keyboards, have you ever got to know who he is?

Well folks the guy we are talking about is called Munyaradzi Viya, he is the producer of Jah Prayzah’s hit song ‘Tsviriyo’, Sulu’s recent album ‘Gunship’ and he is the keyboard player for the legend, Oliver Mtukudzi.

Zimbo Jam got in touch with the 29 year old, and a father of two who resides in Glenview 1 and he shared with us how his career took off.

Who is Munya and how did the music business begin?
Munyaradzi was born on January 29, 1987 at the Harare Maternity Clinic and was bred in Norton, in a family of 10 siblings, eight girls and two boys. I am the first born son, sixth in the family.

I attended Haig Park and Mbuya Bona Primary Schools for my primary education. I then went on to do my secondary education at St Eric’s Secondary School.

The music business started in church (ZIOJA) at a tender age of thirteen, when I fail in love with the keyboard. I would always sit in the front row watching the player doing his thing up until I started standing beside him and watched as he played.

One day the guy just disappeared and I said this is my chance. So every day on my way from school, before I got home I would pass by the church and began to practice, applying the things I used to see the previous player do.

Due to my determination and passion, I was playing some pretty good stuff in a short space of time but I kept working hard and watching other players closely and kept perfecting my play. I never got to be taught how to play the keys, I literally taught myself.

How did you move from being the church boy to start playing with big artists?
When I finished school, I was employed by ZIOJA Glenorah as the church musician. It is during that time when I linked up with Sandra Ndebele’s crew. They wanted a keyboard player, and I said let me take this opportunity, because then, Sandra was the hottest artist on the market.

However, my decision did not go down well with the church folks and they brew a storm over it. I never paid much attention to it, I was making my money and still loved God, and still worship Him to this day. I took it as a job just like any other job.

Even my parents tried to make an issue out of it but they soon realised I had not backslidden and was just working. They later bought me a keyboard in support of my work.

During this period I got to work with artists such as Bethany, Decible, Extra Large and Sabastain Magacha amongst many other artists.

How did the production of music start?

In 2009 I got a call from a friend in Botswana and he said there was a new studio which had been opened and they were looking for a producer. He knew I could play the keys so he thought I was fit for the job, but I was not. I did not have a single clue of what it takes to produce a song but I said I will take the risk and go.

So I agreed to come and before you know it, I was on a bus headed to Botswana.

Upon arrival, the owner of the studio warmly welcomed me and took me to his home, where the studio was located, but since it was during the week, he quickly dashed back to work and left me to familiarise myself with the equipment.

Indeed, the heavens were smiling on me. I immediately began experimenting with the various components of the software’s available and in a short while I had produced some pathetic beat. When the guy returned, I was shocked because he fell in love with my lousy of work. That’s when I knew I was in for a good run.

With time, I got to know how to play around with the systems and began making some pretty decent productions. My name became popular among upcoming artists and they would all flock to the studio.

In the midst of all this, I got a call from one of Botswana’s biggest production companies, DBS and they were keen on taking me on board, as a hustler trying to make money, I never hesitated, I signed the contract.

During my stint there, I produced tracks for artists such as Slizzer, Vee, and Franco amongst many other big shots.

Where did you meet Tuku and started to work with him?

As I stated earlier, I grew up in Norton, that’s where I met Sam Mtukudzi. We grew to be very tight buddies to such an extent that we will do all our missions together. At times when they would have cabbage at their house, he would come over to my place to eat and when there was food I did not like at our home I would eat at their place.

Occasionally we would sleep over at each other’s homes and that’s how I met and got to know Tuku.

In December 2011 I returned home from Botswana for the holidays. I called Tuku to tell him that I was in town. I just wanted to know when his next show would be, so that I get to see him jamming before I returned to the foreign lands. When Tuku picked the phone and realised it was me, he was excited and told me he wanted to see me at the Pakare Paye Arts Centre the next day without fail.

So we met the next day and chatted and I just thought it was just one of those conversations between father and son but there was more to it.

After our long chat, Tuku then invited me to attend a rehearsal he would have with his band the next day.

I was really happy, all I wanted was to see Tuku performing and now I get access to his rehearsal, I did not sleep that night.

The rehearsal was starting at 9 am and I was the first one to arrive and the other crew then trickled in later. They began to rehearse and boy was I just enjoying myself sitting in the auditorium.

But as they rehearsed, I noticed there was a keyboard that was just idol and nobody was playing it but it never bothered me I was just overwhelmed to be in the presence of this great band. Suddenly, Tuku turned around and said, “Nhai iwe wakagarirei ikoko, huya uridze keyboard. (What are you doing seated there, come play the keys).”

I could not believe it, there I was playing with the superstar. It was just unbelievable.

After some days of rehearsing with the team, Tuku then said he wanted me to join the Black Spirits, now I just froze and became speechless. I took up the job offer and communicated with my employers in Botswana that I was now relocating back home and would be joining Tuku. They were hurt but I had made my mind.

What then happened?

We started touring with Tuku and the experience was awesome, I totally shelved the business of producing music.

However, my friends from Botswana began to pressure me to open a studio in Zimbabwe as they believed I was sitting on my gift. So after resisting for a while I then gave in and set up my studio.

The first artist I worked with was Jah Prayzah. I had met him during our shows with Tuku and told him I wanted to do a song for him, but I never thought he would consider my offer.

Surprisingly, I got a ring from Jah and he said he wanted to do song with me and that’s when we did ‘Tsviriyo’ and I was really happy when it became a hit.

I then started working a lot with Jah doing jingles and other projects.

The producer in me had been revived. A number of upcoming artists then began coming through to my studio and the name began to grow.

One day Charles Chipanga approached me and wanted us to what on a project. The project featured a collaboration with Suluman Chimbetu, so they came to the studio and Sulu was like, “So is this the studio? Where is the recording booth? Do you really know how to produce?”

I told him there was no booth but I was on top of my game. So he said play me some of the music you have produced and I dropped stuff I had done for Jah Prayzah and other artists and he was like, “…..is it in this room where that stuff was made?”

I said yes and he became interested in working with me.
He then told Charles that he should put his project on hold for a while and let him work on his album, ‘Gunship’ with me. I thought Sulu was just joking, he took my number and said he would come to the studio the following day at 10 am. The next day at 10 am I was chilling at my house when I got a ring from Sulu saying, “…..Munya urikupi? Handiti takati tosangana na 10 here……”

I quickly dressed up and rushed to the studio and the rest is history, today we have ‘Gunship’.

So what’s cooking now?
Currently I am working on Tocky Vibes’ new album and which will be released in March as well as Jah Prayzah’s next offering set to be dropped in April.

I am still with the Black Spirits and look forward to producing some tracks for Samanyanga in the near future.

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