• Album review: Aurelia by Henry Olonga
  • Album review: Aurelia by Henry Olonga
    Written by battye
    Fri Feb 01, 2008 2:22 pm

    At just 18 years of age, Henry Olonga made his Test cricket debut for Zimbabwe in a winning performance against Pakistan. He was a mainstay in the Zimbabwean bowling attack until his forced retirement in 2003, when he and Andy Flower bravely protested against the death of democracy in Zimbabwe. After an arrest warrant was issued and the threat of the death penalty lingered, he left Zimbabwe.

    Henry Olonga's claim to fame beyond cricket is his voice. Besides being a commentator, he is a popular musician. As a tenor, he has performed in many high profile events including the Harare Festival of the Arts and at Traquir Fair in Scotland. His single, "Our Zimbabwe" was a chart topper.

    His music career received a major boost in 2006. He won the UK talent show, "The All Star Talent Show" with 50% of the overall votes, and the same year he released his debut album, Aurelia. Aurelia is latin for chrysalis, the "transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly". On the second and third pages of the sleeve notes - printed in black and white - there are two caterpillars. On the fifth, there is a cocoon. The final page of the sleeve notes (also replicated on the track listing on the rear of the CD) shows Olonga looking skyward as a butterfly flies over in full colour. This could reflect his cricket career, from low key beginnings in 1995 and later blossoming into an automatic selection towards the end of his career. It could also be a reflection of the work that he put into making the album.

    Aurelia came together when a friend of Henry Olonga's, Bruce Izzett, got in touch with his eventual producer, Robbie Bronnimann. Different styles were explored as the album was being developed, wanting to focus on Olonga's strengths as a vocalist as well as embracing his African heritage. This resulted in a pleasant African theme in each track, whether that be distinctive vocals or sometimes traditional African instruments. Mainly a pop album, there are also traces of hip hop and rhythm and blues. Olonga's vocals sound very warm and natural and are a pleasure to listen to.

    My Heart and Forever Together are the two tracks getting the most air time on my iTunes playlist, I'm being drawn to the upbeat nature of the two songs.

    Henry Olonga's next album is expected to be released during 2008, and will feature a blend of classical and pop. Looking further ahead, Olonga has also floated the possibility of an R&B or Christian album.

    Purchase Aurelia from Henry Olonga's website: http://www.henryolonga.net/ - be quick, there are only a few hundred left in stock!

    The album is also available for digital download through iTunes

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    Track listing:

    1. You Deserve
    2. Please Come Back To Me
    3. My Heart
    4. It's Not Enough
    5. Together Forever
    6. Rise Again
    7. I'll Still Believe (feat. Shaz Sparks)
    8. One Is The Love
    9. Make It All Count
    10. Someone For Me
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