Mental health standpoint in music industry

September 16, 2021



It came as a surprise.

Last week, Zimdancehall artist, Enzo Ishall, born Stephen Kudzanai Mamhere, made a shock announcement that he was quitting music.

He was at the height of his career.

Consequently, the bombshell triggered uproar from his fans and the music industry.

In interviews Enzo cited reasons to do with his private life, experience in the music industry, peace of mind, life responsibilities, and a need for a change.

Enzo rose to fame in 2018 with his single Kanjiva, which was an instant hit.

The 27-year-old was signed to the ChillSpot Records and mentored by the late Zimdancehall star, Soul Jah Love, who was also called by the Shona version of his name Sauro.

From the very beginning there has been a lot of speculation on Enzol’s business relationships, first with Chillspot Records and Passion Java.

Early last year he deleted all his Instagram pictures before updating his story timeline to ‘New Chapter’.

Enzol then posted a new contract he had signed with one Taona Owaald Chipunza “Teemak”.

It was later reported that he at that time had another pending verbal contract with Java.

The two seem to have an on and off ‘romance’. With relationships like these one can never really know the truth.

He also had quite a bit of his private life play out in public – domestic violence, splitting from his wife and the relationships that followed.

Of course, there has been a lot of speculation.

One must wonder, why make an announcement?

Is it going to turn out to be a gimmick?

Enzo is neither the first nor will he be last.

The Zimdancehall star himself has said very little and given away a few statements that no one can make heads or tail of.

“Kuti ndisvike pandiri nhasi ndawona zvakawanda.Ndawona zvinonakidza, zvinofadza, zvinononakidza. Ndaona zvinorwadza ndadzidza zvakawanda. Ndawina pakawanda ndaloosa (sic) pakawanda. In the end ndoupenyu” he said “Munhu wese ane mastruggles”.

Enzo is not the first to quit music.

There have been a few Zimbabwean artists who have stepped down from the stage to embrace an obscure private life away from all the glitter and limelight.

Very few of them deemed it necessary to make an announcement of it, they simply stopped performing and releasing music.

Mateo (real name Mathew Kaunda), who had a successful music career in Zimbabwe with several hit songs including Pamuhacha and Asambe Africa, made under one of the country’s best  musical groups Mateo and Friends,  is one such artist.

Without a word the man hung up his microphone turned his back on music and has never regretted it.

He got married, joined the Jehovah Witness, and started a family.

The late music star, Fortune Mparutsa had a love and hate relationship with music.

He was loved by his fans and his songs the few that made it to the radio stations are still being played today.

While he had stopped releasing his own music, Mparutsa continued to write and record his songs and somewhere out there is a relation of his sitting on over 30 songs that were never released.

At the same time, he also continued to produce songs for other artists.

Why would a Zimbabwean artist at the height of his career want to quit music?

I say, why not?

How many corporates out there are endorsing local artists and paying them well for the endorsement?

How many Zimbabweans out there are purchasing music online or buying legit CD’s?

How many companies or individuals hire artists for all sorts of functions and pay them their ‘worth’?

Let’s explore another angle.

Covid-19 has messed up the entertainment industry especially in Zimbabwe where a lot of performing artists have not been on a stage since 2019.

Some artists live for those performances and that is how they balance their emotions and can nourish their mental health.

That taken away, many may be left feeling inadequate to take on life.

Most of the Zimbabwean artists make more money from performances that music sales, performances feed, and shelter them and their families.

The topic of mental health has been heated all over the world.

In international sports this year, with statistics revealing that up to 35% of elite professional athletes suffer from a mental health crisis which may manifest as stress, eating disorders, burnout, or depression and anxiety.

These are athletes that are taking millions home annually.

In the UK, musicians suffer more mental ill-health than the general population, yet their lifestyles make them harder to support the lives of many more musicians are being made miserable by anxiety, depression, addiction, and other psychiatric conditions.

Zimbabwean artists are no different.

In fact, they are worse off because they do not make as much money as their European counterparts.

We love our local artists.

We follow them on social media. We like, retweet and share their posts wearing fancy clothes, driving fancy cars.

But how many of them post from their beds, post inside their homes?

Always, it’s photoshoots, video shoots, restaurants, and resorts.

Things aren’t always as they seem. There is a lot more that Zimbabwean artists go through than they reveal or that we the fans are willing to see.

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