On the evening of the annual NAMA 2019 awards ceremony, award winning musician and fashion star Cindy Munyavi wore an outfit that she describes as a disruptive masterpiece.
The Waya Waya songstress literally drove social media”waya waya”, in a plastic outfit with sequin detail and java, designed by famous celebrity designer Thembani Mubotshwa. (Thembani! Perhaps a story for another day.)
Now, the only thing more famous than the dress that shook the internet and tested Black Twitter is Cindy Munyavi herself. With her all-time hits including Ndini Ndinaye, Ndidzorere moyo wangu, Parere Moyo and Setter Pace, she is one of the leading female stars in the face of Zimbabwe’s music industry.
Fashion is chaotic, and it can be a boldly intense narrative too, but it is at its best when it allows you to express yourself and make a statement. When Cindy dodged the Zimbabwean red carpet normative, she once again set the pace on just exactly what it means to be a trendsetter and self-proclaimed creative artiste.
Now a regular face on our televisions as the host of “Gear Up”, Cindy, born November 24, 1984, has been in the music industry longer than the 2000s have been following her on social media after she shook the country’s fashion boundaries.
Cindy describes herself as a multi-faceted creative, opting to call herself a creative artiste because she masters in creative arts and Cindy, as a brand, was established via the music because that is her core business.
“I am signed to a label called Bryce Nation and managed by the same label. I am also an entrepreneur, I run a fashion outlet called Cindy’s Fashion corner. I also delve in makeup, I have a makeup team called Makeup 263,” she says.
“I attribute the success of what I do to the fact that there are people around me who make things happen. I have a shop manager for Cindy’s Fashion Corner and my brand manager for music Elton Bryce. So these people help me not only with admin but with ideas and execution of these ideas. I am not a loner, I do this with people.”
Social media is a substantial medium for a lot of people to express and vent their feelings, and this trend does not look to be changing any time soon. Yet still, Cindy’s brand has also been a result of her heavy social media presence.
“I interact with my fans on social media. I am all over social media, on Twitter, on Facebook, I’m on Instagram. Those who follow me will tell you my follow game is strong. My fans know where to find me.”
“I got into the music industry via peer pressure from my friend Lorraine Dunduru when we were in college. She was a recording artiste, she believed in me and pushed me into the studio to record. But my rise to fame is credited to my fans, my listeners and everyone who gave me a chance.”
Cindy started off in 2000 with her first album, Kukuda which was followed by The Groove Theory. And yes, in a country where it’s difficult to remain relevant, she is an urban grooves pioneer and she is almost clocking two decades in the game (at least officially).
Besides the interesting name of her second album, it was a hard hitting masterpiece of experiments at the time. She was bringing something new to the urban grooves movement that was dominated by artistes such as Roki, Ex Q, Pauline and Tererai.
Some of her collaborations have included hit songs with artistes Ex Q, Sniper Storm, Roki, Jnr Brown, Andy Muridzo and Mudiwa Hood.
Internationally, she raised the Zimbabwean flag with 2face Idibia, Bongani Fassie and Ishmael.
“I’ve done many collaborations. My list is endless; collaborations are so beautiful because they bring unique minds together. They literally transform music and bring flavour to it. I am pro-collaborations and the creative processes are always different with each artiste.”
Every production of an artiste should be the expression of an adventure of their soul, and creativity takes courage. Cindy claims her creative process is very organic in how she hums to herself, or write songs when she’s doing household chores.
She is a testimony of the famous shower hour, why, because a shower may just be the perfect storm of relaxation and inspiration? If you’re a think-in-the-shower kind of person, I guess Cindy can side, it’s all good. It’s all backed in the science of creativity.
“A lot of stuff is done in the shower! But sometimes I hit the studio and hear a beat that I like. I also co-write some of my own songs with several people like Elton Bryce. He has helped me pen down some of my songs. But the creative process is very organising, it thrives on pure inspiration. It’s such a beautiful and fun process,” Cindy says as she laughs.
Cindy is no stranger to foreign stages, after headlining this year’s edition of the Miss Zimbabwe-USA pageant in Chicago. It is safe to say — she had a taste of the “American Dream”. One of her all-time favourite performances, was having also performed at a Big Brother Africa ceremony in 2011.
“It’s thrilling; I didn’t know where I was but it was an electric feeling. My other favourite venue includes HICC.”
Her show, “Gear Up”, is a fashion show that airs on ZBC on Sundays at 1730hrs and aside from television and music, the singer has also made her stand in the fashion industry as a fashion icon and entrepreneur.
“Gear up is a fashion programme on ZBC that gives fashion tips to both women and men. This comes as a result of how I have branded myself as a fashionista,” Cindy explains.
Lifestyle of the rich and the famous, am I right? Honestly, we wish we could have just a small portion of what some of these artistes make, so we could live it up in a penthouse and have a chauffeur. (Or maybe just pay off our student loans.) But funny enough, celebrities don’t just make money off their jobs. In today’s economy, it’s all about diversifying that portfolio — meaning the stuff you know them for isn’t really the stuff that makes them rich.
Music is the main focus of many artistes in the field, but Cindy goes further to prove she is multi-talented. Despite the fact that the traditional ways to make money out of music are constantly challenged — record sales and tickets in particular — there are ways for artistes to exploit their talents that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
As Coco Chanel puts it, a girl should be two things: classy and fabulous, Cindy is a unique embodiment. This sense of casual immensity is what drew me to the songstress, as not only a performer but as an artiste and a businessperson: a ready role model for many women.
Cindy’s Fashion Corner, established in September 2014, is a boutique that sells fashion apparel for predominantly women.
“We also house local fashion designers. It’s a fashion hub for people who have a unique taste in clothes, people who don’t want what everybody is wearing. We are still going strong.”
Cindy is uniquely positioned to forge a path for fashion: Not only is she a muse of that realm herself but she has studied the maps she has inherited from her own models such as internationally acclaimed and Forbes world’s richest woman in music, Rihanna.
“Rihanna is a success story and I admire her because I feel like we have the same way of thinking.
“When you build your brand as a musician, music is very seasonal and it’s not every day that you’re going to be hot. I believe that musicians should use that exposure as a stepping stone that will help them to build other legacies as I did with Cindy’s Fashion Corner.”
“Cindy’s Fashion Corner piggy bagged on Cindy the musician’s brand.
“It became a brand on its own and at the same time, it’s still interlinked to Cindy. Cindy 263 is my makeup team and it’s still riding on my brand. It’s all about using the fame and fortune to brunch into new business.”
Cindy has also evolved in her own fashion along the years. And her music videos are rarely short of style. Having been in the limelight for a while now, she has been slowly developing throughout the fashion world. First wearing it, buying it, being recognised for her style and then starting her own brand.
The makeup squad has done makeup for celebrities like Chamvary, Becky, Nox, Hazvinei Sakarombe, Hollywood Lee, just to name a few. Sandra Ndebele’s outstanding look at the Nama19 also carried the Cindy 263 makeup glam.
Perhaps a bit of a workaholic, Cindy claims, “My average day comprises work really. If I’m not in the studio, if I’m not performing, if I’m not rehearsing then I’m at the store.
“I spend a lot of time with my family, I don’t have a husband and children yet so when I do I will let you know how I will balance everything out. At the moment it’s pretty simple, I love what I do!”
At least it’s safe to say, I probed an answer out of her and yes, she has everything — including a serious relationship. Wow.