Tumelo “MELO-T” Ponalo can’t imagine a time before music.
For as long as the Zimbabwean-Canadian musician can remember, music has always been there, serving as a driving force of creativity and self-expression. As a young child, MELO-T recalls being intrinsically drawn to the rhythms made by the Marimba, mbira instruments and Ngoma drums, and inspired by the catchy and upbeat tunes heard from pop stars on the radio.
Now living in Ottawa, Canada, MELO-T has all but lost the musical sounds and cadence native to his home country. As an established and highly sought songwriter and producer, under his musical project and label “Music by Melo,” he unleashes his creative birthright and makes music that transcends both demographics and borders. Similarly, as a DJ, known as “MELO-T,” his original mixes regularly serve as the soundtrack to packed venues and vivacious dance floors.
Drawing inspiration from South African DJ Black Coffee and Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi and Sango, MELO-T’s music embraces a variety of distinctly unique genres— house, techno, hip-hop, reggaeton, Latin music, and R&B, to name a few—into one pure and melodic sound known as “Afro Fusion.” Not to be confused with Afro Beats, the increasingly mainstream genre crossing airwaves from Africa, Afro Fusion is a delicate blend few have managed to master. This rare sound is just one of the many reasons why MELO-T remains one of Ottawa’s hottest artists. And his talent hasn’t gone unnoticed; over the years, his originally produced music has earned a spot on the turntables of popular Canadian DJs, including Rise Ashen, Trevor Walker, J Fun, Akpossaul, Ray Ray and DJ Kam.
MELO-T’s unique artistry has also been recognized as a significant contribution to Canada’s cultural landscape. In 2015, as one of two members of Tribal Threat, an Ottawa-based DJ group, he was selected by TD Bank and the Black Artists' Networks in Dialogue (BAND) to perform as part of Then & Now, a national Black History Month series.
Despite such noteworthy accomplishments, MELO-T is showing no signs of slowing down. In 2019, he released several self-produced singles, including Playful Tendencies, Oceans Away and Someone to Love, featuring Namara. His originally produced single Reunify, a collaboration with Rise Ashen, was licensed to international record label Merecumbe Records for worldwide distribution. Currently, MELO-T is gearing up for the release of a new EP with Spins and Needles Records, anticipated for November 2019.
As with each of his projects, MELO-T’s upcoming work promises to be an original sound. If history should repeat itself, we’re guaranteed to be listening.