‘I remember being paid US$50 for a show’…Sha Sha on money troubles, hardships before fame

04 Dec, 2022 - 00:12 0 Views
‘I remember being paid US$50 for a show’…Sha Sha on money troubles, hardships before fame Shasha

The Sunday News

Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter 

TODAY she might be regarded across the continent of Africa as the Queen of Amapiano but Charmaine “Sha Sha” Mapimbiro recalls she used to perform for US$50 in front of as few as five people, while fending off the scrutiny of disappointed parents and relatives who constantly asked what she was making of her life. 

The songbird recently released “I’m Alive”, her first project since 2019’s breakthrough Blossom Extended Play, which was released while she was still under the tutelage of then mentor DJ Maphorisa. 

While that album quickly climbed to the top of the charts, enabling Sha Sha to remain on top of the food chain in the Amapiano genre, she still has painful memories of when things when not as rosy, as she tried to break into the music industry. Chief amongst her problems at that time, was money. 

“Before I was established, some of the challenges were money. You just constantly don’t have money and you just constantly try to get the next paycheck and try to make sure you get heard; you perform for 5/6 people. It was crazy! Trying to get the paper, that was the hardest part ever. And also, just for the music to be heard, that was a struggle. Being patient and waiting for that breakthrough but it’s just not happening. Seven years was quite a long time, worse off with your parents breathing down your neck, asking all sorts of questions and family gatherings with people asking “so, what do you do”. Also, having to face that reality when people ask you, but well, nothing is happening. I just had to keep on keeping on, keep fighting and getting small jobs, events, and all. That must have been the hardest part, really,” she said in an interview with HYPE.

Sha Sha said her lifestyle had since changed since those early days, which saw her at one point working as a receptionist and waitress. Despite her change in fortunes, she still most of her time indoors. 

“I would say my lifestyle has changed. Back in the day, I used to catch taxis when I wanted to go to town. I didn’t have a car or anything. At some point, I remember being a waitress, a receptionist, I remember being paid 50 USD for a show. That was all the come up, and then eventually, now, it’s a different situation. I don’t think I have changed much honestly. Of course, I don’t catch taxis anymore, but I am not much of a spender. What I enjoy is finding random quiet places and going to coffee shops and things like that. I would say those are the new things that I am doing. But I would really say I am an introvert and a homebody, but I have recently just started stepping out and hiking. There’s definitely been a significant change from back then to now,” he said.

Charmaine Shasha

While she had since attained fame and some fortune, Sha Sha initially had not thought she was good enough to make it professionally.  

“I never really thought that I was good enough to actually be like “okay, I will do this professionally”. Only when my friends took one of my singles to the radio and it popped off, from there, I remember one of the CEOs from the radio stations was so crazy about my voice. I was in Harare, and they said I should come through to Johannesburg and work with one of the mentors, who was Audius Mtawarira at that time. But prior, I honestly didn’t see it. 

“I used to go to the studio for the fun of it and I also had to go to nursing school. It was my friends and sisters who believed and when I saw that moment how people were perceiving my music, it was that time when I said “okay, maybe I can do this”. That’s also the moment that I had to go to Harare and start working with my mentor. He built an awesome team around me and helped me come out of my shelf. I was really such a shy artist, so with the Lord and Audius, we kept pushing and pushing. We pushed for four years in Zimbabwe, trying to find my craft, my voice and all. Eventually, we wanted to cross over and then started working with a few producers in South Africa. As we kept working with the producers, I was lucky enough to meet Dj Maphorisa through my cab driver, in the midst of my sessions and going to my recording sessions. From there, the rest was history,” she said. 

Sha Sha also reflected on her upbringing, which saw her moving around various countries and cities within Zimbabwe. 

“Growing up was very interesting. I went to like 10 different schools, hence I was exposed to the different languages because at some point when I was in South Africa, then I was in Mozambique, Botswana, Mutare, Harare, (Bulawayo). So, I was exposed to different vibes, cultures, and people. For me, at the end of the day, it felt like I inherited homes. I don’t have just one home, and in every community, there were things that I took and things that I learned and things that I carried, and I still have with me till this day. Growing up, it was hard to keep adapting to these different setups and different places. 

“However, it’s crazy enough that it feels as though it was preparing me for this moment where I am constantly meeting different people and I am going to different countries and all sorts, I just had to and must adapt. For me it’s very natural and sense, it’s easy for me to soak in and see these cultures and adopt a few things of my own. So, growing up was hard, but as I grew up, I got to see how it played a huge role for me now, evidently in all my music with the different languages. I am yet to show a little bit more about the few things I got to see in an artist way in the future,” she said.

Such a diverse upbringing she said, had made her into a shapeshifter that can navigate between various languages and cultures. 

“Through my music, you can hear that I have been exposed to different cultures, places, and all sorts. I play around with Zulu, Ndebele, Shona, Xhosa, Sotho etc. With that said, you hear it with my music that I don’t just have one home, I have inherited more than just one home. It’s a very good thing for me now. Even then, it was a good thing because there are many things that I got to see at a very young age and experience at a young age. At that age, you are so influential, so it sticks with you. So, all these lessons, languages and values stick with you. I am grateful for it all. I am grateful for the moves and the 10 schools and everything in between,” she said. 

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