Musician triumphs over adversity

HARARE - Manchester-based Zimbabwean musician La’Diva Leila Million has over the last few years frequented festivals in the United Kingdom and United States of America where she has shared the stage with top international stars.

With five albums under her belt which cover genres such as rhumba, soukous, zouk and salsa, Leila’s music career is surely on the up.

Though the Gweru-born musician, who launched her latest album Desire at the Book Café yesterday, is happiness personified when she talks about her career prospects, however this picture fades when she is asked about her childhood and background.

Life seemed to have fallen apart for the rising  Zimbabwean artiste when circumstances forced her to move from one relative to the other in search of shelter at the tender age of 11.

“I have never been a street kid though I could easily have been one. But God protected me. I had to move from one relative to the other after my father threw me out when I was just eleven years old,” Leila Million opened up to the Daily News on Sunday.

“All I know is that, earlier my mother had been forced to go and live in the rural areas. I remember after being thrown out by my father I just picked up my clothes and I started walking.”

After moving from relative to relative in search of shelter with little luck, Leila Million eventually found help from the most unlikely source.

“There was another uncle of mine from my mother’s side. He was 

co-habiting with a former sex worker but I grew close to this woman,” she said.

“She had her own story and she made sure that I got a better chance at life. She made a plan for me. No one could throw me away. I went to school and then went to Gweru Technical College where I did secretarial studies.”

As a teenager, Leila moved to England with the help of her uncle’s girlfriend and as soon as she got settled, her music career began in earnest.  Interestingly, her music paints a clear picture of the moments of pain and joy that she has gone through in her topsy-turvy life.

She released her debut album aptly entitled From Despair To Destiny in 2004 which was followed by I’m Redeemed two years later.

Her other albums which mirror her life are Ain’t Givin’ Up (2007), Zeal For Your House (2008) and the latest album Desire (2014).

Her latest seven-track album has songs such as Abero which chronicles the life of a naughty and troublesome guy of the same name.

Other potential hits on the album include the title track Desire, Hold On and Humambo.

“This album was inspired by the fact I have never really known love. Yes, I have met men who said they loved me but I don’t really think I have been truly loved,” she told the Daily News on Sunday.

From her current base in Manchester, the gifted songwriter believes her music will eventually take her to the top of the world.

“I do Rhumba mostly because it draws the attention of drunkards and sex workers; people who are into unfortunate things. But you don’t know why they are into those things. That’s why I always say never judge anyone who you don’t know anything about. Get to understand their situation first,” she said.

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