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Betty Makaya: The Queen of Zimbabwean Urban Grooves
If you are a fan of Zimbabwean music, you have probably heard of Betty Makaya, the female urban grooves singer who is based in South Africa. She is best known for her hit songs Kurwizi and Usipo, which were produced by Mutare based Tonderai Music Corporation (TMC) in the early 2000s. Both songs were collaborations with late urban grooves singer Jamal Mataure, who passed away in 2013. Betty Makaya is one of the pioneers of the urban grooves genre in Zimbabwe, which blended contemporary R&B, hip hop, dancehall, and Afro-pop with traditional elements. She has won several awards and recognition for her music, and she has also faced some challenges and struggles in her personal and professional life. In this article, we will explore more about Betty Makaya's music career, her song Usipo, and her personal life.
Betty Makaya's Music Career
Her Early Days and Breakthrough with Kurwizi and Usipo
Betty Makaya was born on 14 June 1983 in Harare, Zimbabwe. She started singing at a young age, joining the choir at school and at church with her late mother in the praise and worship team. She was inspired by international artists like Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Chiwoniso Maraire, and Thandiswa Mazwai. She recorded her first song Ndichange Ndiripo in 2000, which was also the title track of her debut album. The album was well received by the fans and critics, and it established her as one of the leading female urban grooves artists in Zimbabwe.
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However, it was her second album Betty that catapulted her to fame and success. The album featured two of her most popular songs, Kurwizi and Usipo, which were both duets with Jamal Mataure. Kurwizi was a love song that expressed the longing and desire for a partner who is far away, while Usipo was a sad song that lamented the loss of a lover who left without a trace. Both songs were catchy, emotional, and relatable, and they resonated with many Zimbabweans who were facing similar situations. The songs also showcased Betty Makaya's vocal range, versatility, and charisma, as well as Jamal Mataure's rap skills and smooth delivery. The songs were produced by TMC, which was one of the leading urban grooves production houses at the time.
Her Awards and Recognition
Betty Makaya's music earned her several accolades and honors in the Zimbabwean music industry. In 2004, she won two Zimbabwe Music Awards (ZIMA) for Best Urban Grooves Artist and Best Overall Female Musician. She also received nominations for Best Female Artist, Best Album, Best Song, Best Video, Best Collaboration, Best Newcomer, and Best Producer at various awards shows. She was also invited to perform at various local and international events, such as the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), Miss Zimbabwe Pageant, Miss Tourism Pageant, Big Brother Africa Eviction Show, Channel O Music Video Awards, Kora All Africa Music Awards, among others. She also collaborated with other prominent artists Her Hiatus and Comeback
After the success of her second album, Betty Makaya took a break from music to focus on her studies and personal life. She moved to South Africa, where she pursued a degree in marketing and communication at the University of Johannesburg. She also got married and had two children. She did not release any new music for over a decade, although she occasionally performed at some events and festivals. She also maintained contact with her fans through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
In 2019, Betty Makaya announced her comeback to the music scene with a new single titled Ndakusuwa, which means "I miss you" in Shona. The song was a tribute to her late mother, who passed away in 2017, and also to her late collaborator Jamal Mataure, who died in 2013. The song was produced by Oskid, who is one of the most sought-after producers in Zimbabwe. The song was well received by her fans and critics, who praised her for her maturity, sincerity, and vocal prowess. The song also marked a new direction for Betty Makaya, who said she wanted to explore different genres and styles of music, such as Afro-soul, jazz, and gospel.
Betty Makaya's Usipo Song
The Meaning and Message of the Song
One of Betty Makaya's most famous songs is Usipo, which means "if you are not there" in Shona. The song is a duet with Jamal Mataure, and it was released in 2003 as part of her second album Betty. The song is a sad and emotional ballad that tells the story of a woman who is heartbroken after her lover left her without any explanation or closure. She wonders where he is, what he is doing, and if he still thinks about her. She expresses her pain, loneliness, and confusion, as she tries to cope with his absence. She also questions his motives, his feelings, and his promises, as she feels betrayed and abandoned by him.
The song is a powerful and realistic portrayal of the effects of a breakup on a person's mental and emotional well-being. It also reflects the common experiences of many Zimbabweans who have lost their loved ones due to various reasons, such as migration, death, divorce, or separation. The song resonates with anyone who has ever felt the agony of losing someone they loved dearly.
The Popularity and Impact of the Song
Usipo was one of the most popular songs in Zimbabwe in the early 2000s. It topped the charts on various radio stations and TV channels, such as Power FM, Radio Zimbabwe, ZBC TV, Zimbo Jam, among others. It also received massive airplay on regional and international platforms, such as Channel O, Trace Africa, MTV Base, BBC World Service, among others. The song also won several awards and nominations, such as Best Urban Grooves Song at the ZIMA Awards in 2004, Best Collaboration at the National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) in 2004, Best Song at the Zimbabwe Music Crossroads Awards in 2004, among others.
Usipo also had a significant impact on the Zimbabwean music industry and culture. It was one of the songs that defined the urban grooves genre, which was a new and innovative style of music that emerged in the post-independence era. It also inspired many other artists to experiment with different sounds and genres, such as R&B, hip hop, dancehall, Afro-pop, among others. It also influenced many young people to pursue their dreams and passions in music and other creative fields. It also contributed to the social and political awareness of the Zimbabwean people, as it reflected some of the challenges and issues that they faced in their daily lives.
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