SNEAK PEEK: Winstone Antonio

SOUTH AFRICA-BASED Zimbabwean singer Philani “Phitso” Mhlanga, who has since migrated from gospel to Afro-fusion said he had finished the production of his latest album, Chachigondora, that is expected to be released on the market any time soon. The Legacy Band frontman carved his musical career in 2014 as a gospel artiste before switching to Afro-fusion. NewsDay (ND) Life & Style reporter Winstone Antonio caught up with Phitso (PM) from his Mzansi base to get an insight into his musical journey and below are excerpts from the interview.

ND: How is life across the Limpopo in the wake of the recent xenophobia attacks?

PM: Life is okay though one would prefer staying in their home country. The xenophobic attacks are unfortunate and represent a very dark aspect of South African society. They have to learn to embrace African brothers and sisters as was the case with them during the apartheid era when they received solidarity from the entire African continent.

ND: You will be releasing a new album titled Chachigondora soon, can you share more details about the project?

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PM: My forthcoming album is a very important project for me because it will be my first production after I changed my genre from gospel to Afro-fusion. This new genre has challenges because people or fans try to put you in the shoes of legends in which one cannot easily fit. This new album is also important in the sense that it is going to change my life and behaviour as this type of music requires one to be well-disciplined and focused as some people link the type of music with the late music legend Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi’s music. The focus then is on making sure that the fans can get sense, inspiration and meaning from this new album.

ND: You declared that you have rebranded, what triggered this?

PM: When I was singing gospel I had a certain group or part of society that this music targeted and that is those who are of the Christian faith. Therefore in order for me to reach all facets of society I have decided to rebrand to Afro-fusion music so as to encompass everyone regardless of religious beliefs.

ND: Have you collaborated with other artistes?

PM: Not yet, I have not done any collaboration, but in the future yes they are plans to do so.

ND: What is your take on collaborations?

PM: For me collaborations are okay. However, the problem now is people are just focusing on making money out of collaborations. For instance, if I want to do a collaboration with a widely-known artiste in Zimbabwe they always refer you to their manager and upon approaching the said manager they may demand a certain amount of money that I may not have. Or they will argue that the artiste they are managing signed a contract with a particular studio which I might not be able to afford in terms of payment.

ND: There are issues of beefs in the music industry, do you hold an beef with any artiste?

PM: No beef with any artiste. Having beefs is for immature people.

ND: Who inspired you into music?

PM: The late sungura maestro Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo inspired me to get into music. But I also like Josphat Somanje’s music, it is his music that I am listening to nowadays more than any other musician in Zimbabwe.

ND: As an artiste, what is your strength?

PM: My voice is my strength. My strength is how I compose my music

ND: Off the stage, who is Phitso?

PM: Phitso is just a businessman who is into transport. Some call me boss while others just refer to me as Phitso. Yeah that is me Philani Mhlanga. I am a person who believes that failure is not an option. I just have to achieve whatsoever I want, no matter the challenges, no matter the obstacles, I keep on pushing. So perseverance is what has led me to release this album.

ND: What has been your most embarrassing moment?

PM: The most embarrassing moment was the day when I was live on social media, Facebook for an interview with a certain lady whom I will not mention. My fans who were watching that interview started questioning why I was doing an interview with that lady.

Probably they did not like her personality, so after reading such comments I felt embarrassed, but that is now water under the bridge.