Yvonne Chaka Chaka mentors Zim artiste

HARARE - Two years ago, a fledgling Zimbabwean musician, Simbarashe Charandurah, performed South African music legend Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s hit Kana Uchema at a memorial service for a popular community leader called Tembeka Nkamba-Van Wyk held in Pretoria.

Little did the Bulawayo-born Charandurah, who uses the stage name Simba Ci, know that Chaka Chaka was part of the audience.

As he was getting off the stage, Simba Ci was approached by the South African music legend’s personal assistant.

“She ran to meet me as I was exiting and said mama (Chaka Chaka) wanted me to perform at her gig to mark her 50th birthday and 30 years in the music industry which was held at Gold Reef City’s Lyric Theatre in Johanesburg on March 28, 2015,” the young artiste told the Daily News.

Simba Ci’s performance at the gig turned out to be the beginning of a “special bond” between him and the South African music star.

“We (Chaka Chaka and Simba Ci) killed it; we blew the crowd away. Ever since she has been mentoring me … she is definitely one of the most amazing people I have in my life.”

Two years on, the bond between the Umqombothi hit-maker and the upcoming Zimbabwe-born artiste remains strong.

Recently, Chaka Chaka posted a video on social media urging music fans to support Simba Ci before he began his on-going tour of Europe.

“Simba Ci’s brand new album is amazing. Support him …he is going to do a tour of Europe. If you can’t find his music go to his website. Local is lekker, African is lekker…support Simba Ci because I do too,” said Chaka Chaka on the short video.

But who is Simba Ci?

“I was born in Bulawayo. I started singing at the age of five, taught and groomed by my mother who of course sang at church. I grew up singing in church at Holy Cross Parish Tshabalala in Bulawayo.

“I was also involved with the school choir, when I was at junior level at Ihlathi Secondary School where we recorded an album with me as lead vocalist along with Bekezela singer Bozoe Nkomo who is also pushing his music in South Africa,” he said.

After school, Simba Ci took part in several music talent competitions.

“I participated in the CBZ A-Academy and I was part of a band that represented Bulawayo at the Music Crossroads national finals around 2006/7,” the young artiste recalled.

With his music career not taking off the way he wanted, Simba Ci relocated to South Africa at the end of 2007.

“I made my way beyond Zimbabwe’s borders because the situation was increasingly becoming unstable. But it wasn’t plain-sailing for me in South Africa but I persevered.

“In 2009, that is when I started being taken seriously as a musician after I formed a band called Roots Intact which I co-led with another Zimbabwean called Farai Machingambi,” he said.

Though Roots Intact performed at several top festivals around South Africa including the Joy of Jazz Festival which has featured music superstar Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi several times, the band split in 2012 forcing Simba CI to go solo.

“I released my debut album called Zenith in 2015. It was produced by Zimbabwean Alastas Mushoriwa who has previously worked with the late Andy Brown, Mtukudzi and Sharon Manyika,” he told the Daily News.

Though he is an independent artiste, Simba Ci has managed to tour several European countries since 2012.

“I am currently in Germany as part of another self-sponsored tour. I have been here since May 23. I performed at three venues in Berlin and then went to Hamburg where I performed at a pub called New Orleans Siege on two consecutive nights.

“I have shows lined up in Dresden and Munich after which I will leave for Slovenia where I have three collaborative concerts with an artiste there called Lin Morre. From Slovenia I will head to Bosnia, then France, Spain and Italy. I will return to Africa in September,” the Zimbabwean artiste said.

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