King Isaac, a Zimbabwean musician and professor, is in the country and has just released his most successful album locally.
Titled Isaac meets Isaacs; the album is a result of his collaboration with the late reggae icon Gregory Isaacs.
The album is undoubtedly the artist’s biggest success after it thrust him into the elite of world music by being nominated for a Grammy Award.
Although the award eventually went to Buju Banton, nomination for the most prestigious award is any musician’s dream and for a Zimbabwean to achieve such a feat is worth celebrating.
King Isaac composed all the songs on the album and he feels the collaboration is a great stamp of approval of his work.
“Gregory hardly did combinations, except for when he worked with Dennis Brown so it has brought notoriety to my song writing and singing,” he said.
For an artist who is doing well in the USA to come back to Zimbabwe to launch the album is a sign of immense loyalty to his roots.
This is his home and there can be no better place than home.
Being a music professor, King Isaac should be a model for our youths aspiring to make it in the reggae genre, which is arguably the most popular genre in the country.
In one of our chats, King Isaac stressed that local artists needed to improve the quality of their sound.
He was disturbed by the plainness of the sound and urged artists to improve their quality.
He stressed the need to engage percussionists to come up with what he termed a “full sound”.
The Professor, as I prefer calling him, has provided a template for the younger generation to catapult themselves to greater heights.
Believe it or not, King Isaac is proof that indeed it can be done against all odds.
Where leaders are fighting one another and busy failing us, we can still come out of our shells to be on top of the world.
Like King Isaac said: “From Harare to Hollywood, from Gweru to the Grammy’s.”
King Isaac has however some advice to give to musicians: never to take audiences for granted.
“The audience is the closest and most reliable yardstick that an artist will ever judge himself against,” he said.
It is utter failure for an artist to think he can force the audience to listen to poor music.
Music is like the truth. If artists offer poor songs that show no hard work or effort, it will show.
He said artists should get the basics right, do the best they can with each song they record, respect the listener enough to work hard for their time and attention.
He challenged musicians to compose meaningful lyrics that have wide appeal, catchy melodies and high quality musicianship.
King Isaac, real name Gabriel Isaac Kalumbu is a professor in musicology at the Michigan State University and has worked immensely with various artists from Jamaica and the USA.