Many people believe that possessing talent alone is enough to guarantee an artist success in the music industry. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a perfect world, the best musicians and best guitarists would be amply rewarded for their abilities. As is evident, the music industry in Namibia is far from perfect.
Great artists of note have existed just to be relevant as a filler in a group and only a handfull stood out as their ability to fuse the strings comes out louder. Zimbabwe has Oliver Mtukuzi and while Namibia does not have a Ray Phiri, Immanuel ‘Imms’ Salohoma is surely on the path to become one of the two, if not better.
Almost everyone is an entertainer today, but whether you are a fingerpicker or a two-handed tapper, in order to survive and distinguish yourself from the thousands, you must boast some other essential qualities.
All you need to do is listen, listen and listen to realise that while talent of course isn’t every artist’s basic bread and butter, this 26 year old instrumentalist is destined to make his own name in an industry that is not widly celebrated.
It all started at age 10, playing the guitar in church to the gospel melodies. Whether it was biological or he grew to become the better him, the audience loved what he did with the strings.
While his peers were running around shops to look their best for their matric farewell, Imms decided to snub the event and used his money to buy his first guitar- an investment he was never to regret.
He went to the College of Arts to get to know the basics and to work on what he already knew. This time sure that he wanted to become the best guitarist. Today, he has become one of the fast emerging musicians – one who knows just how to cause the strings to vibrate, if not the best. A music teacher now at Onbeat Music School, Imms says it’s his role to reintroduce the love for the guitar for everyone.
“I know it’s strange for a black child of my age becoming a guitarist after high school but this was always my thing. I have loved music from a very tender age, especially live music. When I started this, I did not know it could become this big but here I am,” said a comfortable Imms.
In a live band performance, instrumentalists are often overlooked as the audience pays more praise to the vocalist, but little credit is given to the makers of the right sounds that blend with the equally powerful sounds.
Imms has over the years made his presence felt, so much that his sounds alone can pull an audience to a standstill. His talent has earned him spots in various musical groups and there is just no sign of stopping him as the stakes stand.
While his strengths lie more with the guitar, his musical abilities places him squarely above the crowd. He is as good on the piano and taps the bass-guitar with equal ease.
Besides the fact that his guitar now pays his bills, the love of his life has taken him to South Africa, London, Thailand and other countries. In May next year, the young guitarist will be on tour traveling with the celebrated Planet Shakers.
Unlike other talents one becomes easily accustomed to, Imms says not everyone can become a guitarist as it requires knowledge of rhythm, commitment and patience. “It takes a lot of practice to get things right especially when you want to become professional. In the end, it teaches you patience. You just don’t do it right the first time.”
Now comfortable with what he does full time, Imms says it is time to introduce the guitar to everyone. He strongly believes that there is room for growth and he does not mind opening his own academy one day to teach people how it is done.
He admits that while many people look at him as a pro, he continues to learn every day.
He has surely made his presence felt, which is mostly behind vocal artists. He hints that it will just be a matter of time before he adds a voice to the beautiful sounds of his guitar. “A guitar is everything to music. It is an ingredient that can also stand alone. So hopefully by 30, I will add my voice to my talent. I want to leave something behind when I am no longer around.”
“But for now, it is all about me and my guitar. Ask me to pick up any instrument any day and I will take the guitar. It is what I know best.”