Thursday 22 September 2011
Chimbekeya and the Famous Seven
I have met Zimbabwean musicians whose names can mean anything under the sun. Listen to this Mathias Gaston, Sydney Sabawo, Simon Bhaudheni and Sheila Saizi. And they were once led by one Staben Mawire. Yes, you guessed right - their band name was Famous Seven. Again their hit single was called Chimbekeya - Wonder Guchu
It is only after you have spoken to the musicians and written the story when you realise there are some names. I did so when I met the Famous Seven.
Are the Famous Seven - who first stole the music limelight with their hit single Chimbekeya in the 1990s - still famous, as their name suggests?
And if word that they are back and here to stay in an industry where the likes of Alick Macheso rules the roost is anything to go by, will they manage to stand on their own feet without the leadership of Staben Mawire, whose death created a yawning void in the band?
Moses Tafirenyika, one of the few surviving members of the Famous Seven who conceded that they had gone quiet but were now on a revival course.
"Zvanga zvadzikira, but if we keep on holding more live shows as we are doing right now, we will definitely rise again. We have two new albums in the pipeline," said the 43-year-old Tafirenyika who repairs sewing machines in the capital.
So, when can people expect to see the two albums on the market?
"We are currently assessing recording companies in order to see which ones we can best work with. We want a recording company that will accept our music on merit."We were frustrated when we recorded three albums with RTP between 1997 and 2002. They were not marketed properly. We ended up wrongly accusing radio DJs for not playing our music on air but they would tell us that they never received any promotional copies from the recording company," he fumed.
How did the name come about in the first place?"It was in 1989 when we were operating as Mutinga's Combination and we felt time was ripe for us to record our music. We feared that if we were to record using Mutinga's name - the owner of the instruments we were using then - would lay claim to ownership of the band and that is how we settled for the Famous Seven."Tafirenyika said.
The original Famous Seven comprised himself and his brother Job, Mathias Gaston and the late Sydney Sabawo, Simon Bhaudheni, one only identified as Eddie and Sheila Saizi.
"We then hooked up with Mawire a few months later after the people he was supposed to record with had ditched him. Our first single was Sarura Wako followed by the album Ndafunga Kure three years later," he recalls.
The group's big break came in 1992when they toured the United Kingdom and performed in Birmingham during a gig that featured three other bands from the Caribbean Islands, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Born on April 10 1965 in Murehwa, Tafirenyika started playing the lead guitar at a very tender age dabbling with homemade guitars before going professional years later in Mabvuku by teaming up with several other youths who had a passion of music.
To other musicians, Tafirenyika who is married to Synodia with whom he has three children has this to say: "One of the keys to success in music is perseverance. Music inoda kushinga because chipo chinoerera nemvura. To our fans, we are not dead we are still there."