THE name Tariro Ruzvidzo Chaniwa might not strike a chord with many, but it is her moniker — Tariro neGitare — that is likely to pluck chords that play a familiar song to the ear of music lovers.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
When loosely translated, Tariro neGitare means Tariro and the guitar, a confirmation of the Afro-soul songstress’s obsession with the guitar.
It is Chaniwa’s affection and intimate relationship with a guitar that, when she was sifting through a catalogue of stage names, she had to settle for something that would also give the same prominence as her name to her one true love — the guitar.
Surprisingly, Tariro neGitare never considered music as a career when she was growing up, despite her affectionate love affair with compositions by Tracy Chapman, Lauryn Hill and Oliver Mtukudzi, whose music is strongly accentuated by the guitar.
Interestingly, today Tariro neGitare has turned out to be among the most celebrated female artists and guitarists in the country. While her music career has been well-documented, The Standard Style takes a peep into Tariro neGitare’s tool of the trade — her guitar — which she has been attached to since the age of 13.
“I started playing the guitar at the age of 13 while I was at St John’s High School in Emerald Hill,” she said. “I was taught how to play a guitar by Sister Elizabeth Wedeking. We were in a music lesson and she asked for people who wanted to join the guitar choir, which was not the coolest thing at that time, but nine of us raised our hands and that is where the journey began.”
From that time, Tariro NeGitare continued to perfect her art on the strings and has proved to be passionate about music, which has seen her commanding a fair share of space in the male-dominated industry.
Although a guitar has become her trademark, she said she has never personally bought one.
“There is a scripture in the Bible that states that God will supply all your needs and I have come to realise that sometimes we do not even know just what we need, but it will be supplied,” she said.
“These people around me saw that I needed one and were prompted to make an investment in it for me.”
Before having her own guitar, Tariro NeGitare used his brother’s guitar, her first plug-in acoustic guitar (amplified) for her debut live performances sharing the stage with fellow female musicians like Edith WeUtonga, Diana Samkange and Cathy Mhlanga.
“I had my first guitar, a personalised nylon string Cataluña when I was 13 years old. I got it from our neighbour just after I finished high school,” she said.
Today, Tariro neGitare is using a handcrafted Santa Fe guitar of a feminine body with a “curved rear and a flat tummy” which she has had for the past five years.
She said it was when she worked for a company that had all the fancy sound equipment and gadgets that she was blessed to have a boss who changed high-end guitars. This saw her changing guitars three times.
“I have had my current guitar, which is a handcrafted Santa Fe, since 2012. It was given to me as a gift from my boss at Crossline Music where I worked at that time,” she said.
“I love my guitar very much since it is very feminine. During the time I got it, I had been wishing for an ovation guitar, which is a good guitar brand, however, the Santa Fe was a fair substitute.”
But her craving has not stopped. She said from Santa Fe, she is craving for the Godin Multiac Nylon string guitar, with a mahogany neck and a solid cedar top and a Richlite fingerboard.
This guitar has a love affair with all the monarchs of music royalty. It is the type of a guitar that has been spotted in the hands of music icons like superstar Mtukudzi, Nigerian jazz musician Kunle Ayo, Mali’s famous pop star, Habib Koite, Côted’Ivoire singer Dobet Gnahore and American singer India Arie.
Despite being a holder of a diploma in Personnel Management and an honours degree in Sociology and Gender Studies, Tariro neGitare’s passion for music kept growing to eventually become her profession.
“I certainly never considered being a musician as a career option. However, purpose and calling took precedence. God seemed to close all the doors I thought would work for me and led me to music as the gift that would make room for me and I have therefore just embraced it and watched the opportunities unfold before me,” she said.
The guitar has accompanied Tariro neGitare to assignments where she has shared the stage with Zimbabwe’s finest and international renowned artists, among them Mtukudzi and multi-award winning Jah Prayzah.
She has also warmed up the stage for foreign artists, among them the legendary Canadian rock star Bryan Adams.