Waiting for Diaspora music

Fred Zindi Music
We have heard word of new albums from the Diaspora in the works for some time, but now it’s official. Thomas Mapfumo, King Isaac and one Jona Masiya will deliver their next records this year.

This good news comes via individual e-mails from the artistes themselves.

In case you were feeling anxious that Mukanya who has not performed in Zimbabwe since 2004 is slowly becoming irrelevant in Zimbabwe, the release of his latest album entitled ‘Danger Zone’ brings Dr Mapfumo back to life. According to his publicist, Blessing Ivan Vava, the album will be out this month and will revive Chimurenga music once again.

Last year we were promised a tour of the Gandanga, but it did not materialise. According to Vava this was due to logistical hiccups with the organisers, but this year will be different.

Dr Thomas Mapfumo is based in Capital Drive, Eugene, Oregon in the United States of America.

I have been privileged to pre-review the 10 tracks on his latest album before its release date which is January 31 2015. As usual, Mukanya is controversial in some songs. Here are some of the lyrics:

1. Chikonzero 11:19 Chikonzero baba ndiudze chaunondirambira, ndirume nzeve chikonzero chaunondizondera, uritsotsi, hausevenzi, hauna mari, machayanyoka,

(There is an incredible horn section on this song).

2. Are you ready 5:14 (He is asking if people are ready for the last song)

Good times are close, are you ready to sing along and dance, it’s 4am and the DJ is playing the last song

3. Danger Zone 6:34 The world is burning, its on fire, there is gunfire everywhere.

Thomas is asking what’s going on? The world is upsidedown, some places are no go areas, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya just to mention a few there are all Danger Zones, Too much war in this world.

4. Celebrate 5:10 Celebrate good times, freedom day we celebrate, every good occasion we celebrate, Xmas,new year, birthdays come join and celebrate.

5. Hatidi Politics 5:16 Kutukana kwanyanya pasina zvafamba vanhu vanoda rufaro, vanoda zvipatara, vanuvanoda rugare, hapana chakanaka dzingori politics, mavengwa nevanhu mavengerweyi?

(This is more of a blues beat mixed with some Chimurenga vibes. Mukanya is emphasising that we want good living not politics).

6. Music 4:11 Mukanya sings about different kinds of reggae, calypso, African music, rhumba chimurenga, he wants music any kind of music.

7. Nhamo Hurombo 7:33 He sings about poverty and how people are suffering and seeking solutions.

8. Shabeen (remix) 4:49 Shabeen remix featuring Natalia (you know it).

9. Zimbabwe 5:11 (Mukanya is telling everyone to come together and re build our Nation) Zimbabwe tinoda rufaro, we are one, ngatikanganweyi zvekutukana ngatishande tose kuti nyika ibudirire, rule of law should apply to all.

10. Chikwereti 10:03 Chikwereti chandakupa, ndichazochida, Usazotiza.

This year also sees Isaac Gabriel Kalumbu aka King Isaac, a Zimbabwean singer who in 2011 was at Staples Centre in Los Angeles among the Grammy Award nominees for the best reggae album of 2010 release what I term a scorcher. (Grammy Awards, originally known as Gramophone Awards when the concept was first mooted in 1958, are trophies given to outstanding musicians for their recordings in different categories of music genres. The annual awards feature prominent musicians every year who have shown outstanding achievement in the music industry mainly through record sales. Grammy is the music equivalent to the Emmy Awards for television or the Oscars for film.)

King Isaac’s new album, appropriately named “Coat of Many Colours” was recorded in three different countries; Jamaica, United States and Zimbabwe. The nine tracks are sung in three different languages: Shona, Ndebele and English. The music itself comes in different genres; reggae, Afro-Jazz, R&B and pop, indeed making the album a coat of many colours. Again, I have had the privilege of listening to the album before its release and I must honestly say that I am overwhelmed. The track “Makuwerere” on the album will definitely make it onto the Zimbabwe’s top 10 hits. Some of the words on this track go like this:

Huyai muone makuwerere

Hwahwa ndakarega

Fodya ndikarega

Vasikana Ndakasiya

Pamusana pako Dhiya

Dumbu ku gym

Hona rakapera.

A rough translation of these lyrics is as follows:

Chorus: So come and see the wonders of true love, of a perfect love, Come and see what love can do, Come and witness this celebration of a love that conquers all.

I quit drinking

I quit smoking

I stopped chasing after girls

Because of you my dear

I have been to the gym

Now I am fit

There is no doubt in my mind that “Coat of Many Colours” will find a lot of takers this year. I quit drinking, quit smoking, and stopped chasing after girls because of you my dear, the belly to the gym, look now its gone, Now I am fit, fit like a strong teen.

Chorus: So come and see the wonders of true love, of a perfect love, Come and see what love can do, Come and witness this celebration of a love that conquers all.

I quit drinking, quit smoking, and stopped chasing after girls because of you my dear, the belly to the gym, look now its gone, Now I am fit, fit like a strong teen.

Chorus: So come and see the wonders of true love, of a perfect love, Come and see what love can do, Come and witness this celebration of a love that conquers all.

Back in 2013, King Isaac, after surrendering the award to Buju Banton and failing to make it on the Grammy Awards winners’ list, warned us that a new record wasn’t high on his list of priorities, saying at the time “right now, doing another album doesn’t excite me”. Since then, he’s teased us by saying that this new album will make all his previous recordings “look like child’s play”.

Professor King Isaac is based at Michigan State University in the United States.

Another Zimbabwean musician based in the United States, Jona Masiya has just released a gospel album called “Time To Praise Mbira-Marimba Special”.

Looking at his biography, he has been in the music business for quite sometime. I have had a good listen to his new album and it looks like a lot of work has gone into its making.

The album, “Time To Praise Mbira-Marimba Special” is a unique fusion project that combines traditional Mbira and marimba to create a rich, upbeat, inspiring music that appeals to all. This album is the first in the making combining Mbira and Marimba to play Shona gospel music, ushering a new era for Mbira and Marimba music. It will soon be available on ITunes and Amazon.

Jona’s gospel music career grew from his years as a praise worship member in the AFM church in Rutendo, Kwekwe and Rujeko, Masvingo.

Jona is currently a percussionist for Victory Church in Virginia, US.

Jona Masiya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Africa University and a Master of Music Education from Shenandoah University, US. He is a distinguished teacher and player of the Djembe drum, Ngoma, Marimba and Nyunga Nyunga Mbira. He taught Nyunga Nyunga Mbira, Marimba and Music Theory at Rutendo Secondary School in Kwekwe, and at Masvingo Teachers college in Zimbabwe. Jona taught World Music and led an African Ensemble at Shenandoah University in the US.

Currently, he is a high school Special education teacher at Grafton Integrated Health Network in Virginia, US. In 2004, Jona received Culture Arts funding and recorded an album in Zimbabwe. The album was recorded at Mahendere studios with the Mahendere brothers.

While in the US, in 2013, he recorded the album; Deep roots-(Zimbabwean Drums). The album features popular Zimbabwean drumming rhythms and Jona’s newest compositions. He has performed on numerous public concerts. He is featured in the official visitor’s guide for Frederick County and Winchester City 2011-2012.

Jona hosts an African drum circle at the Shenandoah Arts Council in Winchester Virginia, the first Friday of every month. He has performed in numerous public concerts including 2014 Montgomery County Pan Africa Festival and DC Africa Festival. He has been a guest artist at the Embassy of Chad during 2011 DC tourism week. Jona currently directs his Marimba band.

He is a visiting Marimba teacher for Marenje Marimba in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Jona is a teacher and performer currently creating awareness of Zimbabwean music and musical instruments within the state of Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia.