Some birds build their nests with other birds’ feathers and likewise Zimbabwe has witnessed a number of musicians who depend on others for success. This is not about Mutare- based upcoming gospel musician Blessing Shumba who has shaken the gospel music industry, becoming the King of Gospel.
When he ventured into the music industry fans crowned him ‘The New Charamba’ but the Handina Mhaka hit-maker has dismissed the title.
With only three albums, Shumba has won the hearts of many people, shrugging off stiff competition from great musicians.
Determination and hope kept Blessing Shumba’s spirit alive and that has seen him rapidly progressing within a short space of time, a remarkable feat in the tough music industry.
With his remarkable humility, the gospel music superstar may often be overlooked, but at a careful glance, fans can find themselves jostling to catch a glimpse of the music gospel icon.
Our reporter Bridget Kanamhora (BK) caught up with Blessing Shumba (BS) at his Mutare home and below are the excerpts.
BK: Who is Blessing Shumba?
BS: Blessing Shumba was born 34 years ago in Buhera before my father relocated to Odzi. I did my education at Mabvudzi High School in Rusape. I am married to Pauline Chipakatira and we have four kids. I was blessed with two set of twins. The first twin boys are called Levious and Levite while the second born twins are a boy called Elite and a girl called Eli.
BK: When you rose to limelight, you earned the nickname “The New Charamba”, did you like it?
BS: I hated the nickname with passion. It hurts me when people use such kind of a title. It’s too heavy and it creates tension among musicians. I am not and will never be The New Charamba, I am just a gospel musician with one mission to spread the word of God through music.
BK: Do you think you have taken over as ‘The King of Gospel music’ in Zimbabwe?
BS: No, music is not a competition but a mission. All gospel musicians are doing their best in spreading the gospel message to the people. There is no King or Queen in gospel music.
BK: Most of your music is played mostly in kombis, shops and beer halls and there are reports that at one point you distributed your discs for free to gain mileage, how true is that?
BS: I never did that, I was also surprised to note that my music was being played everywhere.
BK: Is it true that music is your part time job?
BS: At first I thought so, I am an electrician by profession and I own a company so I never thought of quitting this profession. I am thinking about quitting because of pressure from promoters and most of the time I am busy with live shows. Moreover I do farming because my late father left a farm in Odzi.
BK: When did you venture into music?
BS: It is still a mystery to me because I never knew one day I will become a well known musician. My late father was a leader of the Mugodhi Apostolic Sect where he used to teach us how to sing church hymns. In 2001 together with other five church members we formed an apostolic choral group called Vakushi Veshoko and released an album titled Tumai Mweya which became a flop. The group dismantled after some of the members relocated to South Africa due to economic hardships that were prevailing then. However, I wrote my first song Kurwa Kwakanaka in 2008 after the death of my father and approached Metro Studios who refused to offer me a contract to record the reason being the type of my music. However, with the help of Olinda Marova and Brian Ngolombi I recorded three songs Kurwa Kwakanaka,Varombo Vachaiteiko and Handina Mhaka at VOJ studios. Fortunately Nathaniel Ncube a presenter at National FM passed through the studio and picked the song Handina Mhaka which he played on radio. That is when I realised that I needed to finish the project and released a six track album called Ishe Wazvose in January 2009.
BK: Who marketed and distributed the album?
BS: I then returned to Metro Studios who then agreed to market and distribute the album. I went back to the studio and recorded another album in December 2010 called NdiMwari.
BK: When and where was your first live performance?
BS: Harare Gardens in September 2011.
BK: How was your performance?
BS: The show was marred by technical glitches and there was poor turnout so it wasn’t the best of all.
BK: When and where was your best performance?
BS: It was my first time to appear to people in Chinhoyi in the same year. The reception was overwhelming and frightening at the same time. People chased my vehicle for over two kilometers, others tried to lift the vehicle up while others were trying remove the windows to see me. The police however intervened. I went on stage and gave out my best. The fans vowed to deal with me if ever tell them of going home, so instead I sang and repeated songs with fans still streaming into the venue. Fortunately there was a blackout and this is how I ended the show.
BK: You are a member of the Mugodhi Apostolic Church where modern musical instruments are condemned, how did your other church members react when you released an instrumental album?
BS: They have no problem with that, our mission as a church is to preach the gospel of Christ no matter what.
BK: What are you currently planning to do?
BS: I am thinking of holding a show outside Zimbabwe, probably in the United Kingdom and South Africa where we have many Zimbabweans. If given the opportunity that will be the best move to take anytime from now.
BK: Are you assembling your own backing group anytime soon after losing three band members?
BS: I am comfortable working with the new band I am assembling.
BK: You have been described as the most humble musician in Zimbabwe, what is your say on that?
BS: It’s good to be good, my father taught me to be humble. People do say that, if I am humble I am humble.
BK: There is rumour that you are about to relocate to Harare, how far true is that?
BS: Many are suggesting I stay in Harare because of its centrality but the truth is i won’t live Mutare. Harare has its musicians and I belong to Mutare.
BK: Who is your best musician in the country?
BS: The late Brian Sibalo