Gospel music today is no doubt filled with various personalities and different styles. But there are many more gospel musicians that are yet to be discovered or given opportunity to market their style music because there is a general tendency by people to favour established artists.
One of them is Alexander Sikelo (42), a musician, who sings with the praise and worship team of one of the fastest growing Pentecostal churches in Zimbabwe, the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries known as the Yadah Voices.
He recently released his third album Nezita RaJesu Kristu, a beautiful production which can send all reggae lovers onto their feet.
The first two albums titled It Is Possible and Wauya Munyaradzi, have so far done very well on the local airwaves.
In an interview recently, Sikelo said he sings all the parts in these productions from soprano, alto, tenor and bass. But he fuses women’s voices on some of the tracks.
A trained music tutor in vocals and choreography, Sikelo bemoaned the fact that established musicians are reluctant to collaborate with upcoming choirs and bands and yet this is the norm all over the world. He cited the ease with which secular artistes are able to work together and pump out hits for their audiences.
Kirk Franklin, a popular Afro American, has enjoyed tremendous success collaborating with many artistes in both the Christian and secular world.
Locally, musicians like Oliver ‘Tuku” Mtukudzi have had collaborations with various artistes in Africa and one that comes to mind is Jordan Katembula a popular musician from Zambia. Tuku has also had collaborations with a good number of musicians like Willom Tight, the Chimbetu’s and many others.
Pastor Gee, is yet another celebrated gospel artiste who has done collaborations.
“Tuku has sung with so many artists, but gospel artistes seem to be doing it for the love of money and not preaching the word through music. There is a too much jealousy in the gospel music industry. To hire equipment from locally established gospel artistes will charge you $5 000 just for an album launch where one will for example sing just one song. But musicians in secular music prop each other for free because they are a united force.”
Sikelo has performed with Tutani Ndumiso a well-known South African gospel artiste and performs at weddings and corporate functions. He also performed to raise funds following the train-bus crash that killed nearly 36 people at the Tynwald North/Dzivaresekwa rail road junction in 2007.
“The situation here is very different like for example South Africa. Established and famous musicians in that country groom upcoming musicians to produce perfected tunes. I dream of doing collaboration with the Charamba’s and Fishers of Men . . . that will be the best thing that can happen to me. I adore Baba Charamba,” Sikelo said.
He described Madzibaba Zacharia aka Senior Lecturer, a guitarist with Yadah Voices, as a unique guitarist, performer and humble songwriter.
“I have learnt a lot from this man. Humbleness is the key to achieving greater heights. Many musicians push people around and want to see downfall of upcoming musicians. Madzibaba Zacharia is a great man of faith who nurtures talent.
“You should have faith first because every songs should minister to people that will buy the dvds. You must also have faith that people will like your productions. There are so many DJs who request for my music when their dvds get scratched or get damaged . . . This actually shows that I have a following that is yearning for my music,” he said.
His manager Rodwell Banda, who is also his child hood friend when they were growing in Mabvuku, chipped in and said that Sikelo is a great preacher, teacher of the Bible and an awesome musician.
“If you like music by the late Lucky Dube’s of South Africa, you are likely to embrace Sikelo’s music. We will start arranging for live shows by the grace of God. Or greatest challenge is the lack of equipment, but we will break into the gospel music arena. We will be travelling to Zimbabwe’s outskirt areas this year to spread the word through music,” Banda said.
Away from the microphone, Sikelo, who lives in Westlea, is a farmer and also runs a buying and selling