He is Bongo Flava’s toast of the moment with hit singles that are rocking the airwaves across the country.
His compositions such as ‘Chibonge’, ‘Inatosha’, ‘Raha’ and the recent release ‘Ya Uchungu’ have become staple on many DJs playlists from radio stations to Nightclubs.
His schedule is packed with performance and recording engagements in studios something that makes him quite a rare item to get hold of.
Marioo’s quick rise as one of the brightest stars on the Bongo Flava scene is a story that baffles many, a school dropout who started out as an apprentice in garage in Mwenge, Dar es Salaam.
“I dropped out of school quite early, actually a few months into my Form One due to unfavorable conditions, because there was not much to do I was taken to my uncle’s garage to learn how to repair motor vehicles,” says the 24-year-old Marioo.
Vehicles have always thrilled him even as a little boy so working close the machines at a tender age was something that he really looked forward to.
It was while at the garage that he started honing his singing skills and it was at the same garage where he met one of the boys who connected him to a studio.
“There was a certain woman who used to serve us food, she would call me Msaani (artiste) each time I passed by. She one day told me that she would introduce me to her son who was also a budding artiste,” says Marioo.
It was after the two met that Mario recorded his first single in a studio in Salas ala, a suburb in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.
“I had just escorted this friend of mine at Abbah Process’ studio, it was while there that I met a certain guy who introduced himself as Tunchi master who told me that I had to have Sh300,000 to be able to record.
But even after the recording another problem was mixing the song,” says Marioo whose real name is Omary Mwanga.
Mixing became an issue that he had to deal with and it was not until after Abbah had listened to the song that he realized the boy had talent.
But like any other up and coming artiste, the challenge was not to record the song but getting it out on radio stations for airplay.
“Getting the song to radio stations was the next step, I was not known and word of mouth wasn’t going to get the song to the public,” he says.
He had to change tact on how he was going to get himself on board with some of the people who make things happen but even then he knew none!
But even as positive reviews came in, one of his strongest attributes was song writing and because things weren’t working for him.
He has written many songs for established artistes and most of them have gone on to become a success both on radio and on TV.
“I wrote Nabembea for Ditto, Wasikudang’anye for Nandy, Pambe which was done by Christian Bella, Nampa Papa by Gigy Money and Homa by Lulu Diva. I see this as my contribution to the music industry because all these songs have done well,” says Marioo.
The success of these songs instilled in him the belief that he has something to offer to the industry despite early inhibitions.
“These songs were great and through them I got the confidence to release my first single which I titled ‘Dar Kugumu,’” he says.
Though he grew up listening to local artistes such as Diamond and Rich Mavoko, he says he draws his inspiration from American RnB singer Jason Derulo among others.
“I loved listening to Diamond because he was more like one of us and because of him many of us wanted to become artistes,” he says.
Choice of topics
His song ‘Chibonge’ which was released earlier this year was one of a kind, as he celebrates plus size women.
“I had to look at the other side of the coin, in most songs you will hear men praise the so-called figure eight shapes but the reality is that we have the curvaceous women and they too looks good and deserve to be celebrated,” says Marioo.
He believes that the whole idea of slim girls as an epitome of beauty is an imported one because true beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.
“My compositions as you have seen in the songs that I have written and those that I have sung are derived from real life situations,” he says.
He adds: Today’s music is all about getting it right because fans have a wide range of variety to chose from so they easily get bored.
In an era when very few artistes are talking about albums, Marioo is looking forward to work on one because he says ultimately it has to be every artistes desire to have one.
“I have some works in the making but my goal in the long run is to have an album,” he says. On handling fame that comes with such artistic success, he says the whole secret lies in staying grounded to the basics.