James Chimombe's spirit lives on

HARARE - Heralded and unheralded artistes combined efforts to pay tribute to fallen legendary musician James Chimombe in Harare at a weekend event that enthralled music fans.

Musicians took turns to perform their acts in between speeches and life history of Chimombe, aptly told by his widow before hundreds of fans at Warren Park’s Hilltop Tavern.

The iconic James Chimombe died 24 years ago — leaving lasting memories of a glittering music career only compared to Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo and Marshal Munhumumwe.

“It had always been a burning issue in my heart that nothing had been done to remember my father, but today I’m so happy that it has happened. I thank well-wishers who chipped in to make this thing a reality,” Tendayi Chimombe, James’ eldest daughter told the Daily News.

Chimombe’s widow — Snodia — had the crowd in stitches as she recounted her first meeting with James and how they raised their family.

“Yes, l know they could have been other women in his life, but I’m sure they all knew l was the real McCoy,” she chuckled.

The day’s proceedings started with a performance by Tendai Manatsa and Selmor Mtukudzi who were backed by Sandra Mtukudzi. It was evident that Selmor has grown in leaps and bounds in her musical career in which she has deliberately avoided riding on the fame of her father — Oliver.

It was clear that Selmor and Sandra are their own act and Tuku is his own man. Selmor had the crowd eating from her single Nguva Yangu, a hit highlighting the wails of a jilted lover who had hoped for best things in a “blossoming” relationship. Both Selmor and Sandra had to sing the song twice after the crowd’s special request.

After Selmor and her husband left the stage, it was time for Simba Band an Afro-rhumba outfit fronted by 62-year-old Jane Marimo who spent about three decades in Europe before deciding to come home and form a band.

The group gave a good account of themselves and proved to all and sundry that age ain’t anything but a number. She made some cool moves that would have left rhumba virtuoso Yondo Sister green with envy.

“ I think this is good for the memory of James Chimombe because he was an icon and his music still remains very relevant to this day,” Marimo added her voice to Chimombe’s tribute.

Her Danish husband who was part of the crowd could be seen lovingly swaying to the cool beats churned out by his wife.

Benjamin Chidewe and Blue Horizon whose Afro-jazz music is inspired by Chimombe, Paul Matavire and Leonard Dembo, did not disappoint either. Hits such as Takatenga mbeva, Shanda and Thompson had the crowd on its feet.

Little known Black ldentity showcased the talents of Tongayi ‘Chirandu’ Tarubona, a principal economist at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Tarubona has the talent and his music was so refreshing that the crowd appreciated the songs some of which were laced with Zambian beats.

“It is a good thing that Tendayi has managed to do this for her father. It was long overdue but l am a bit disturbed by the fact that some of the giants he worked with are not even here. I hope next year’s edition will be bigger and better,” Tarubona told the Daily News at the end of his performance.

Other groups that performed were Percy Masendeke and his Nhapitapi Express and Mama Rachie. James Chimombe’s Huchi Band, as expected, were the main act.

From the moment Huchi Band started with the song Jemedza, the crowd went wild as it took them down memory lane.


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