Charamba completes studies, looks ahead

HARARE - For four years now, gospel musician Pastor Charles Charamba has been attending music school at the Zimbabwe College of Music, a tall order indeed for the singer who has had to balance this with his music career and family.

Just this month Charamba wrote his final examinations for the music degree programme.

The Daily News Assistant Editor, Maxwell Sibanda (MS) interviewed Charamba (CC) to talk about his studies’ experience and his immediate future plans.

MS: Pastor; you have finally completed four years at school now — how has been the journey?

CC: It has been very challenging to balance my musical career and studies since 2009.

I thank God for the strength.

There were both written and practical assessments that needed my total commitment and I managed to do my best each time I faced them.

Faith, will power and the Lord’s grace pulled me through. I thank God that I feel I am now an informed composer.

MS: How has your four years affected your live show performances?

CC: It took a lot of courage because I enrolled at a time when Fishers of Men had accrued a number of proposals for international tours.

I pleaded with my workmates to scale down our concerts and shelve all our over-seas concerts, save for a few regional ones, like Mozambique considering the close proximity of some of the venues to Harare.

I was determined to know the other side of music, which was different from what I was good at.

MS: How has been Fishers of Men been surviving?

CC: I thank God that our music still makes reasonable sales although the levels are incomparable to those we were used to prior to the advent of piracy.

The sales as well as live performances provided much of the income.

Fishers of Men being a professional company also hires out music instruments and video shooting equipment and this supplemented our monthly earnings.

Members were also encouraged to be innovative, which saw some of them trading sub-regionally.

During the same period, our members were also engaged as session instrument players by other recording acts.

MS: Do you have a permanent band at the moment or you have session musicians whom you work with as and when you have concerts?

CC: We do not work with session musicians though they are very important and necessary for the music fraternity.

We have always worked with full-time members since inception; however, we also accommodate any former member who may want to re-unite with us at any given time.

Some occasionally feature for the sake of our mutual relationship.

MS: Since you were at school, who has been in charge of your musical engagements?

CC: We have a team of administrative assistants who would consult Mai Charamba whenever they needed guidance.

Deliberately we hadn’t appointed a manager as we felt there was little to concentrate on since we were not 100 percent functional musically.

Our band also has internal leadership, which manages some of the activities we do.

 MS: When were your last releases — both you and Amai Charamba?

CC: For me it was Pashoko Pangoma in 2010 and Mai Charamba, The Gospel, 2006.

MS: Now that you have finished school, what are your plans; in terms of the band; new releases for you and Amai Charamba?

CC: I intend to deliver that which God implanted within me to the best of my ability.

I will concentrate on composing, preaching, teaching, counselling, being a musical consultant and do everything within my means to make a positive change to people’s lives through my talent.

I believe I will have enough time to rehearse with our band as well as other collaborative partners locally and outside.

MS: Even when you were at school you used to perform live at various venues around the country — how was this possible?

CC: There were many factors to this, though I may mention a few things that overwhelmed me.

The love for our fans, failing to resist their calls as well as being challenged by most of the fundraising proposals people brought forward at our office.

The concerts ranged from orphanage fundraisings to church building projects.

Though we don’t regard ourselves as financial heavyweights, we felt we could play a part through offering our services.

It was however, demanding to write a thesis as well as examinations under such conditions.

As music is my calling, I do not regret balancing many activities at once.

MS: Do you, as Fishers of Men plan to sign your own artistes at your music label?

CC: We plan to teach, instruct, impart skills on younger generations but we shall avail our studio as an independent recording facility.  

Though we are already a label and registered corporate, we are more concerned with skills development ahead of anything else.

MS: Since your first recordings and up to now, how many musicians have passed through Fishers of Men?
 
Who are some of the success stories — musicians who are doing their own recordings?

Do you bless those who decide to break free and turn solo?

CC: We have turned ourselves into an academy that has mentored a number of artistes.

Some were average while others were able musicians prior to joining us, but they would benefit through sharing knowledge from a Fishers of Men perspective.

Some of the names that we have weaned include Spiwe Chimuti, Tamuka Marodza, Tariro Muringa, Jonathan Mgazi, Elisha Shamuyarira, Antony Gasani, the late Phanuel Mungandaire, Causemore Mushonga and Irene Tigere.

Some of the aspiring singers nowadays realise that there is no reason to hide their intentions and they announce at the outset that they would be joining us briefly, so as to earn musical experience.
 
Tigere is one of these. We do not object as long as we are able to accommodate them.

Others like Gloria Gasani continue to record their music while they are still part of our band.
 
We always insist on workmates to feel free to pursue solo careers if they so wish.

For that reason, a great amount of our rehearsal time is usually spent on lectures-cum workshops on subjects that are related to music and solo careers.

Besides preparing members for solo careers, we also highlight on the values that make instrumentalists complete in case they decide to join other groups.

MS: What are some of the challenges that you face as gospel musicians; and as Fishers of Men?

CC: They range from identity to misplaced perceptions.

Many times “we” gospel musicians do not understand the nature of God we represent and we end up despising ourselves.

Some public perceptions pile up pressure on gospel musicians by taking them for what they are not.

Inasmuch as people expect godly conduct from these musicians, they are human, they are prone (to some of) the challenges that bother anybody else.

As a result, of the pressures they are subjected to, some gospel musicians resort to living artificial life styles that are consistent with those perceptions.

The Bible discourages people from being imposters as it is tantamount to hypocrisy.

Romans 12:13 says “Let no man think himself more or greater than God has made him…” It is my plea to the public that they view gospel musicians as both true servants of God, and as a people who are striving to do better, morally and socially.

MS: As a family, what are some of your pass time activities; with your children?

How old are your kids now?

CC: I sometimes play soccer with my children.

We also share jokes and take turns to narrate folk stories.

Most importantly, we sing together and the songs range from hymns to impromptu compositions.
 
In some instances we take them out for eats.

There is so much fun we share. We have five children aged between two and 15.

MS: What does it entail to be parents and entertainers? CC: It takes discipline, integrity, sensitivity and open-mindedness.

We understand that our children are more than fans to us.

They bank on us for education, welfare and character building among many other things.

One should always pray to God for divine guidance, to avoid misleading the young ones.

We make sure that our children come first, to avoid a situation where fame and popularity steals all the attention.

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