Charmaine Shamiso “Sha Sha” Mapambiro is a Zimbabwean singer who has taken the local music scene by storm.
She has worked with many South African artists including the renowned Amapiano godfathers DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small.
Sha Sha as she is popularly known has won several awards including the coveted BET award for the Best New International Act last year.
Sha Sha moved around Zimbabwe whilst growing up following her parents’ separation, often residing with her grandmother or aunts.
Her music journey began after joining the choir, subsequently taking vocal and piano lessons as a child.
Through friends, the 26-year-old artist broke into the music industry as her music was played in one of the southern African country’s biggest radio stations.
This radio airplay was well-received and caught the attention of singer-songwriter Audius Mtawarira, who became her mentor, father figure and helped her with improving her craft.
Sha Sha met another Zimbabwean musician Brian Soko in 2017, the duo were connected with South African musicians such as Rouge and Priddy Ugly who featured her on their releases.
It was during this time that the singer crossed paths with DJ Maphorisa through her cab driver.
The two began working on ballads together and, with help from the latter, was able to meet future collaborators Mlindo the Vocalist and the legendary Jazz artist Don Laka.
’s Luthando Vikilahle caught up with the singer to chat about her experiences in both South Africa and Zimbabwe’s entertainment industries.
: Hey Sha Sha, it’s great to finally sit down with you, without wasting anymore time, briefly tell us about your musical career, how has it been like!?
Sha Sha: ‘It’s been a long journey; 7 years and it’s been amazing. I say amazing “fully aware” that of course there’s been trying times, ups and downs, hard times, I mean in 7 years a lot happens.
But I’ve gotten to a place where I’m so content with where I have arrived and of course I’ll keep growing, I’ll keep pushing the limits.
I am very grateful for that journey because it was definitely humbling, empowering and all of these beautiful things. I definitely believe that diamonds come from massive pressure and it’s been definitely fulfilling to be quite honest.
: What led you to start making music?
Sha Sha: My friends! My recording professionally started with all this entirely but previously music was around me.
I sang for choirs in church and school but never took it seriously but my friends are the ones who introduced me to that other side and this is before I was about to head to nursing school.
They literally hauled me into the studio and they were like, ‘I need to try something and when I did, it sounded amazing.
I remember one of my friends, again taking one of my demos to one of the radio stations and that’s where this whole thing started.
I remember the CEO of the radio station blow up when he heard my music and so this small-town girl had to move to the capital, but my friends were the people that started this whole thing.
I never really thought of it as something in the beginning you know and grow to see something out of it but just seeing people’s reaction to my music was just like WOW.
Not that I wanted that validation but there was something that woke up in me and I loved it. It was nice to see how people felt about my music so that’s when I fell in love with moving people and touching people with my music.’
Most people likely do not know that you’re originally from Mutare in Zimbabwe, and we know that dance hall/urban grooves music genres play a major part of the culture there, now tell us how do you find the South African music scene!?
Sha Sha: It’s packed with talent and amazing artists, be it Amapiano, Hip-Hop, whatever genre it is, I just feel like it’s booming.
It’s awesome to see all these cultures and vibes, and South Africa is mostly known to be a Dance country and for me, I fell in love with that specifically. I’m definitely about the dance life.’
: In terms of professional development, the two countries are different, as a result, they must be musically different as well. But luckily you are somehow in a unique position because you have worked in both countries with different people, so how has that exposure affected you professionally!?
Sha Sha: The exposure has been amazing, to say the least. Zimbabwe at the beginning of my journey was not accommodative for what I aspired for professionally but comparing those times to today, there is a lot of change.
Professional development has changed a lot with upcoming artists in Zimbabwe doing well and being handled professionally while at least handling themselves professionally too.
It’s been a ROLLER-COASTER, ha-ha but I am truly grateful to both Zimbabwe and South Africa because the effects impacted me and developed me equally well, for my growth professionally through the positives and negatives.
: If you were to compare between the South African music genres and those from your native land, which one would you say define the person you are now?
Sha Sha: I think music is universal to begin with. Of course, certain sounds may have originated from a particular place, but the feeling they give to people in different places can be similar.
Both Zimbabwe and South Africa are big parts of my identity so it’s rather difficult to compare. I think of South Africa as home, just as much as Zimbabwe is.
What I will say is, I love how new sounds are borrowing from genres/sounds that are native to the countries such as Kwaito (South Africa) and Mbira (Zimbabwe).
Sha Sha has been selected in the Best Amapiano Music Video for her music video, Woza, Best Amapiano Live Vocal Performance, Best Amapiano Vocalist, and Best Female Amapiano Artist categories.
In the Best Amapiano Music Video category she will battle against Kamo Mphela’s Nkulunkulu, Focalistic’s Ke Star, DJ Zandimaz Emthandweni, Major League DJs, Abidoza, and Mpho Sebina’s Dinaledi.
For the Best Amapiano Live Vocal Performance, she was selected alongside Samthing Soweto, Daliwonga, Sir Trill, and Boohle.
For the Best Amapiano Vocalist alongside Boohle, Samthing Soweto, Soulful G, and Lady Du and for Best Amapiano Female Artist alongside Boohle, Dbn Gogo, Kamo Mphela, Lady Du.
Zimbabwean-born music producer, DJ Zandimaz also secured nominations in the Best Amapiano Music Video for Emthandweni and Best Amapiano Female DJ/Act.
Award winners will be voted for by fans through an SMS system across all 20 categories.
An artist that will come out at the top of each category will receive R10 000 prize money while the song of the year will scoop R50 000.