'Mothers should equip girl-child artistically'

HARARE - Gospel music star Olivia Charamba believes the girl-child should be equipped artistically as this can turn out to be a future sidestep career.

Popularly known in the music circles as Amai Charamba, the gospel diva said she is already teaching her three girls basics in music.

Amai Charamba is married to gospel sensation Charles Charamba and they have five children.

“I have three girls whom we are already empowering artistically. The eldest is in Form Three while the other two are in Grade Five and Three. We are teaching them the basics — playing the piano, guitar, violin and drums,” she said.

The idea to arm kids artistically has several advantages.

“As the children grow, they will choose their preferred professions while also armed as artistes. It is a profession they can easily fall back on in the event that they are not successful in other academic areas."
“And the good thing is that one can be a musician while working on a different professional job.”

The gospel diva’s wish is to one day see all-female bands performing in Zimbabwe.

“It all begins with us as mothers showing our girls the ropes in the arts sector. We have to open their minds and build their confidence when they are still young. The more we introduce them to music early, they will develop an interest and we can afford to have all-female bands.”

Amai Charamba urged young female artistes to remain focused on their goals as the industry was fraught with sex predicators.

“I recently met a young female artiste who told me a sad story about her struggle to break in showbiz.
She said each time she tried to meet promoters or producers for engagements they always demanded some sexual favours. "

"It is sad and I think as women artistes we need to stand our ground and fight such exploitation by men,” she said.

The gospel diva said she was lucky in that she can’t be exploited by males because she works alongside her husband.

“I feel for female musicians who lead musical groups because most of the times the band members are male and it is difficult for her to control them. I am lucky in that I have someone muscular — my husband, who can take care of the male band members. He is my shield.”

Apart from her husband protecting her, “he also composes all my songs.

"He has a gift to compose and I am lucky in that aspect as well. My job is just to sing; put vocals. I am blessed.”

Amai Charamba released three solo-hit-albums, including all-time classics Amen and Daily Bread which were among the top-selling albums.

“It is interesting that when I released these solo-albums fans began to compare me with Baba Charamba and I was saying “but you can’t compare us” because all the music belongs to him — I am just putting my voice to his compositions.”

While she and husband were once commissioned to compose a gender album, it was her wish to compose more songs to empower women.

It would also benefit her when she is invited by women’s groups to grace their functions.

“I have asked my composer to write me songs that have to do with women and he agreed. So in the next album be sure to hear songs promoting women.”

After six years without releasing any new songs, Amai Charamba says she is ready to record.

“We have been thinking of working on a collaboration album with Baba Charamba which should be out at the end of the year or early next year. Baba Charamba is still at school (College of Music) and that is taking most of his time."

“But we are hopeful and positive that he will spare some time so we can record.”

Amai Charamba works with four women in the band, two of them session musicians while the other two are permanent.

“We rehearse once or twice a week at our home studio.” she said.

But how has she been managing to juggle between family and artistic career?

“It has not been easy, especially with the kids. I have to take them to school, but I should say I am done with kids now and hoping my future has more space for my artistic career.”

Amai Charamba’s day begins with an early morning prayer after which she prepares her children for school.
“I am a proud mother and enjoy motherhood. It is a blessing that comes from God and thankfully we are counting the blessings."

“I enjoy spending time with my children and it is my duty as a mother to see them grow healthy and well cultured.” she added.

She was happy that Vice President Joice Mujuru and Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe have risen up the ladder and challenged our male-dominated political landscape.

“I see a day when a woman will be president of Zimbabwe and this can be achieved considering that Amai Mujuru is just one step away while Amai Khupe is just three steps away. They say in Shona musha mukadzi. Imagine having a female as our President and how this can transform our image in society” she added.

She said mothers the world over are known to be caring. “As mothers we have a gift — this motherly touch and I think we need more women in higher societal positions because they are motherly by their nature.”
Amai Charamba praised women for supporting the Christian ministry."

“Women make up the bigger numbers in churches and this should be applauded. They also attend our music concerts in numbers.”

She said while she cannot play in beer halls and night clubs, she acknowledges that patrons appreciated their music.

“Our music is for everyone, especially those who have not received Christ. It is meant for them, so they are introduced to the Christian way of life” she said.

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