Almost all the songs that Kapenda Katuta has composed have become major hits, but his name is seldom mentioned when stars such as Vee, A.T.I., Eskimos, Exodus and Alfredo Mos are celebrated.
Ironically, some musicians conveniently forget to credit him on their album sleeves, something, which the talented guitarist says does not bother him.
Very few people are aware that the Democratic Republic of Congo native composed and arranged the instrumentation in Vee’s highly successful Kasi Angel, which featured the hit Letlhale La Tsamaya.
Among the major hits that had Katuta magic touch was Chris Manto 7’s Zwaka Preza, Jeff Matheatau’s Garass Pampiri and Wizards of the Desert’s Vuu.
Katuta has also played instruments for Alfredo Mos of Africa Sounds, both in studio and on stage. In fact, the list of high profile musicians who have utilised his skill and talent is endless. “I am here to serve not to compete for the limelight with the artists.
It gives me satisfaction to see their music record high sales after my touch and they becoming big stars. Besides I am a behind the scenes man. Even those who do not credit me on the sleeves, I am not angry with them,” Katuta told Showbiz.
The lanky guitarist cum key board player came to Botswana in 2002 at the invitation of kwasa-kwasa musician Jeff Matheatau, who was still trying to establish himself as a recording musician at the time. “I was based in Zambia at the time. Some of my country men who were working with other bands here had told Jeff about my skills and he approached me to come and help him,” he said.
Katuta plays three guitars, rhythm, lead and bass as well as the keyboard; a talent he believes he was born with. However, he acknowledges that after learning on the streets in his native country, he was introduced to formal music training in Zambia by a certain Pastor Gonzalez.
“I met this Spanish Pastor Gonzalez who helped me take my classes. I would say this is my natural talent but learnt more in Zambia which helped me to be the kind of artist I am today,” he said. It was perhaps this training that widened his scope and improved his versatility.
Katuta has demonstrated this by easily roving between genres during his long career. “The very first album I worked on here was Jeff’s Five C’s and from then I have composed and produced music in almost all genres you can think of here.
For instance, I have done music for Eskimos, Exodus and Vee who are all kwaito kwasa musicians. I have done Afro Jazz for Mshilo, Punah Gabasiane-Molale and the late Malombo Mmereki. I also crossed over to house music when I worked with Skizo (David Molosi) and then shifted to Afro-pop with Astley Gops, Mr Tagg, Unique Attractions and many others,” he said.
On stage, Katuts has collaborated with giants such as Oliver Mtukuzi, Sonti Ndebele, Lorain Lionheart, Tsilo Baitsile, Masilonyana Radinoga, Benson Phuthego, Nono Seile and Socca Moruakgomo. But the 47-year-old singles out his performance with American jazz legend Earl Klugh as the highlight of his career.
“It was honoured to be part of his backing band and the way he commended me after the show. In fact we had a chat, which gave me a lot of motivation,” he said.
The DRC born guitar maestro is proud to have been one of the propelling forces of the local music growth.
Having worked with both yester-year stars like Kgobola and current crop of performers like; A.T.I., Dramaboi, Zues and Mapetla, Katuta has groomed two generations of musicians and when he says there has been tremendous improvement one needs to listen.