Marshall Munhumumwe's shoes too big

HARARE - The new-look Four Brothers led by James Nyamande is finding it tough to fill the big gap left by the legendary Marshall Munhumumwe who passed away 17 years ago.

Nyamande’s group, managed by the late Munhumumwe’s eldest son Marshal Junior, has released several albums since the hit-maker died but up to date they have not produced hit songs that measure up to popular classics released by the original Four Brothers.

The Four Brothers won the hearts of many fans with hits such as Mbereko, Vimbai, Uchaenda Wega, Chero Uchindida, Rugare, Vatendi, Ndibvumbamirei, Shungu Hadziuraye, Chandagona Ndipembedzewo, Adiwa Iraki Rake, Tauraya Rudzi Rwedu, Rudo Chete and Rudo Moto among others.

In addition to vocalist-cum-drummer Munhumumwe, the legendary Four Brothers also included Alex Chipaika-Phiri (guitarist), Edward Matigasi-Uleya (guitarist), Never Mutare (bassist) who are also late.

The Munhumumwe-led group’s popularity extended beyond Zimbabwe’s borders.

Their 1988 hit Pasi Pano Pane Zviedzo was selected by late BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel as one of his favourite records of all time on the radio show Desert Island Discs in 1990.

In fact, the Four Brothers regularly performed at Peel’s birthday parties in the United Kingdom in the 1990s.

Interestingly, in October last year during a maiden visit to Harare, The Amazing Race, widely regarded as the greatest reality television competition show of all time, had contestants given a task to sing Pasi Pano Pane Zviedzo.

The Amazing Race executive producer Bertram van Munster, who co-created the reality television competition which has to date won 15 Emmy awards, described the song composed by the late Marshall Munhumumwe as an authentic African song.

“I selected this song because it sounds very African. The contestants had to learn and sing this Shona song,” he said.

At the Harare event, the new-look Four Brothers led by Nyamande performed Pasi Pano Pane Zviedzo for The Amazing Race contestants.

Though many critics believe the new-look Four Brothers is a far cry from the original one, Nyamande feels his band is doing well under the circumstances.

After a performance at the City Sports Bar last Monday, Nyamande, however, conceded that “the late Munhumumwe was a great musician whose shoes are too big to fill.”

“If Munhumumwe happens to resurrect today, he will be very happy with the progress we have made so far. We have managed to keep his musical legacy afloat despite very enormous challenges we face as a band in an environment ravaged by music piracy.

“So far we have released eight albums after his departure with songs Masalads and Rave Ronda being tributes to Munhumumwe,” he told the Daily News.

The new Four Brothers frontman is hopeful that the group’s forthcoming album will change their fortunes for the better.

“Next week we are planning to release a new album called Mwari Pindirai. We put a lot into the album and we are very confident that the album will propel the new-look Four Brothers to new heights. The new album takes a critical look at modern day prophets,” said Nyamande.

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