Of couples who record, perform together

HARARE - One of the most fascinating developments within the local music industry in recent years has been of musician couples who work and sing together in their respective bands.

While the set-up is not far wide, there have been special examples starting from the early days when Jonathan and Shuvai Wutaunashe formed the gospel group Family Singers in 1982.

While Shuvai was the lead vocalist, her husband played the piano to perfection and together they released early hits like ‘Nditorei’, ‘Vana Vanokosha’ and ‘Shine On’ among others.

In 1984, when sungura musician Nicholas Zacharia and a few friends formed the group Khiama Boys after his short stint with Vhuka Boys — comprising Solo Makore (now band leader of Fogo Fire), Shepherd Chinyani, Samuel Chikudzura, Wellington Sakala and the late Tineyi Chikupo — his wife Margaret was among the band members.

Margaret joined Khiama Boys as a dancer, a rare job for a woman at a time when being a musician was frowned upon, more so for a woman.

One of the hugely talented chemistries was that of the late Andy Brown and Chiwoniso Maraire who, as The Storm in the late 90s, dazzled the local music industry with their unique combined sounds.

With Chiwoniso playing the mbira, hosho and providing the soothing vocals, her combination with Andy — a great guitarist and vocalist as well — was just what the doctor ordered.

At the time, apart from Chiwoniso, The Storm comprised Sam Mataure, Ian Hillman, Adam Chisvo, Keith Farquharson and the late vocalist Mwendi Chibindi. 

The Storm went on to release several albums among them ‘Tigere’, ‘Let the Children ‘Play, ‘Gondwaland’, ‘Harare’, ‘Hondo Yesadza’, ‘Tongogara’ and ‘More Fire’.

Gospel power couple Charles and Olivia are probably Zimbabwe’s most outstanding and enduring duo whose recording careers have seen them win countless music awards.

An amazingly talented couple, the singers have managed to win over Christian and non-Christian audiences.

In 2000 and 2001, Charles and Olivia dominated the music charts with their albums ‘Exodus’ and ‘Amen’ respectively.

Both albums sold over 100 000 copies and were number one hits for several months. 

While they release albums as solo projects, it is Charles who composes most of the songs.

Charamba said he met Amai Charamba at Apostolic Faith Ministries’ St Mary’s assembly in Chitungwiza when she had just relocated from Gweru. 

“I had always prayed for a supportive spouse and I realised she could make the ideal partner I had always hoped for. I had an idea of the popularity I was going to attain in my musical journey and I resolved that I needed to put a seal on my marital status before breaking into fame.

“In life, a spouse can fall in love with your fame instead of you, hence my decision to avoid it before time. She possessed most of the qualities I expected from a prospective wife.

“I prayed about my perception of her and the Holy Spirit confirmed she was the right one for me,” said Charles in an earlier interview. 

Olivia said she began to work with Baba Charamba before she married him. 

“He used to help me and my friends Tariro Matongorewa and Spiwe Murerwa compose songs.” 

Charles and Olivia were eventually married in 1997.

A mother of five, she says balancing her musical career and her home life was not easy. 

“It is quite challenging. I have five children right now, I had my first child when I was a backing vocalist then and it was not easy. You needed to balance between children and the music career and this calls on you to schedule your work otherwise you get lost,” said Amai Charamba. 

“The only time that I am really affected is when we are on tour and I am forced to leave the children at home. I miss them and we pray for guidance and protection when we are away.”

America-based Shingisai and husband Stephen Suluma are another gospel couple who sing and compose songs together.

Like in the case of Shuvai, Shingisai is the main vocalist of the group while her husband plays instruments and helps in song composition, arrangement and production.

The couple is popular in Zimbabwe for producing hit songs; ‘Maitiro Enyu’, ‘Mirira Mangwanani’ and ‘Fara Zvakadaro’. 

They have released several albums among them ‘Tiri Parwendo’, ‘Huyai Ishe Jesu’ and ‘Ndewake’.

Gospel musicians Charles and Namatai Chipanga met in 2003 when both were performing with superstar musician Oliver Mtukudzi.

The couple left Mtukudzi to pursue their own careers.

Namatai says the couple helps each other and does everything as a duo and they seem to be balancing family and music. 

“I do everything with Charles. He is the one managing everything and I can include his song on my album just like I do on his. He manages the band and all the logistics, so we are a team.

“I also manage to separate the two, being a wife and a musician. When I am at home I am a wife, when we are on stage we do business, we are professionals. Home is home and work is work, we just play our roles accordingly,” she said.

Coming from musical families, Tendayi Manatsa and wife Selmor Mtukudzi (Zexie Manatsa and Oliver Mtukudzi respectively) the duo has artistic blood oozing.

While Tendai is a veteran guitarist, Selmor is more into mbira, hosho playing and singing. 

With more than six years working as a couple, the duo is also proud of being the parents of three children whom they say are already proving to be musically talented.  

Against this background, music is the daily bread of the family which unites them even more and has been the platform for them to build their music careers.

From the Mtukudzi family, music star Oliver and wife Daisy are a power couple that has defied age and continue to perform together at special events.

But they are not alone.

During his last days as a performing musician, the late Dick Chingaira aka Cde Chinx was singing with his two wives.

Zimbabwe reggae singer Joseph Nhara aka Man Soul Jah sings together with his wife and children in his group People Against Cruel Existence (PACE). 

With many reggae lovers being left out in the cold albeit with only international acts as their only recourse to enjoying this universal sound, in 1989 PACE exploded onto the Zimbabwean scene hailing from the Midlands town of Gweru and comprised Nhara, Eddy, Manu, Sister Lee and Percy.

While England-based diva Ivy Kombo used to deny having an affair with her producer and owner of Gospel Train, Admire Kasi, in the latter years the couple opened up about their secret affair and are now openly married.

The gospel star under the guidance of Kasi was propelled to national stardom through hits such as ‘Sammy Joe’ and ‘Handidzokere Shure’ and has released more than 13 albums.

The couple is now based in England.

Other musical couples include Nesto and Tererai; Freddy Manjalima aka Kapfupi and wife Mai Nga; Soul Jah Love and Bounty Lisa. 

There is also songstress Clare Nyakujara who is married to bassist James Buzuze; the couple also composes and performs together while award-winning gospel singer Blessing Shumba sings with his wife, Pauline Chipakatira who serves as a backing vocalist for the band.

 

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