Drummer, vocalist rolled into one

HARARE - After making a name for himself as a drummer in Zimbabwe and in other parts of the world, Blessing ‘Bled’ Chimanga’s new mission is to prove that he is equally talented as a vocalist.

The diminutive Chimanga, who has played drums for top musicians like Dudu Manhenga, Hope Masike, Eric Wainaina (Kenya), Ray Phiri (South Africa), The Kokos (Norway) and Ary Morais (Norway), has released a red-hot single titled Maruwa Enyika.

The jazzy song is off Chimanga’s forthcoming eight-track album titled Dreams, set to be released in February.

“My type of jazz is called Casablanca because of the Brazilian feel my music exudes,” Chimanga told the Daily News on Sunday.

“I try to bring my music home as much as possible. You will find that Maruva Enyika sounds very samba but at the same time it has a strong touch of local rhythms.”

Chimanga added that his forthcoming album is a platform for him to express himself fully as a musician.

“I felt that it was high time I opened up more as a frontman. This is something that I could not express in someone else’s project as a drummer,” he said

According to Chimanga, the forthcoming album which centres on messages of joy, love and peace, was recorded with the help of Zimboita  — a band comprising Zimbabwean and Italian artistes.

It also featured Colombian saxophonist Esteban Copete who collaborated with Chimanga at the One Beat Musical Exchange in California, in the United States of America last October. Chimanga

revealed that the diverse musical experiences he has been exposed to as part of Zimboita have shaped his forthcoming album in a big way.

“My music travels as I travel. Being part of Zimboita has been amazing. When we started making the idea it was supposed to be a one-off thing but when we realised people were enjoying the collaborations we decided to keep the relation,” he said

“We are still individual artistes but when we are together we maintain being Zimboita. We are actually working on an album due April.”

Chimanga has been working with the Italians for three years.

“I met the Italian guys in 2011 at the October Festival hosted by the Italian Embassy. That day I was playing drums for Dudu Manhenga and when I went backstage I met Max Covini. He had just finished playing with his Italian band and we have not looked back since then,” Chimanga said.

“Zimboita has opened doors for me on the European side of life. It has made me meet more contacts and stretch myself because of challenges that come with going on a bigger stage and playing for greater crowds.”

The former Prince Edward High School student is also part of the Ngoma neGitare concerts in which he collaborates with Tariro neGitare.

“Ngoma neGitare has now become more of a seasonal thing because both of us have hectic schedules at the moment. The next concert is coming in April,” he told the Daily News on Sunday.

“Drums are the heartbeat of music; they create rhythms and determine music genres and style.

“Usually, all recognition goes to lead vocalists. The Ngoma neGitare concerts are meant to give drummers the recognition that they deserve.”

For Bled, playing drums has always given a soothing relief from stresses and pressures of life.

“I discovered my passion for drums when I was about eight. I would collect magaba and play them. For some reason it made so much sense to me and made me feel good,” Chimanga said.

“I started playing drums officially when I was 10 at our church. No one taught me to play I had to discover everything by myself.

“I also did drums during secondary school at Prince Edward and utilised that opportunity to polish my act.

“When I am playing drums everything just feels fine. They complete me and I find myself forgetting about all the negative things about life.”

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