Brief bio of some of the country’s finest musicians


Paul Matavire 
HE was one of the country’s prolific musicians and songwriter born in Maranda, Mwenezi District. He rose to prominence in the 1980s when he joined the Jairos Jiri Band (JJB) in Bulawayo at the Jairos Jiri Rehabilitation Centre.
He was then elected to lead the Jairos Jiri Band. He was one of Zimbabwe’s finest musicians to emerge after the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.
Matavire was a social worker left blind by glaucoma as a child.
While his deep lyrics garnered him the nickname ‘Dr Love’, his songs were also known for their social commentary.
Matavire’s music gained popularity due to his humour, the use of rich and deep Shona lyrics and his willingness to tread on what many regarded as sensitive societal issues.
His music touched on anything from religion to marital issues, but still retaining the humour that made it ever so popular.
His hit song ‘Dhiyabhorosi Nyoka’ stirred controversy at its release for its reference to the biblical Eve, and women in general, as the root cause of every man’s troubles, while at the same time acknowledging the pivotal role women play in society.
Matavire’s music has remained popular, even among the young in Zimbabwe, years after his death. He is also remembered for his willingness to experiment with the Shona language in his songs, coining phrases that have remained part of everyday conversation.
The JJB grew in popularity during the late 1980s and also toured abroad.
The band, composed of various musicians under Matavire’s leadership, released 13 albums, the last being 2003’s Zimbe Remoto.
Matavire was also known for leading a simple life.
Semi-retired before his death, he balanced music with tending goats and cattle in Rutenga where he moved after 2000 when he was awarded a farm by the Government.
Matavire is fondly remembered for his music more than anything else.
He died at the age 44 in 2005 at his farm in Rutenga, Masvingo. By the time of his death, he is believed to have been an owner of a large herd of cattle, having spent the last days of his life as a farmer.
James Chimombe (1951-1990)
A vocalist and guitarist par excellence, Chimombe was best known for experimenting with different sounds from across Africa.
His career included stints with OK Success, the Acid Band, the Ocean City Band and the Huchi Band. His music melded South African, Kenyan and Congolese influences into his music. Chimombe also worked American Country & Western sounds into his music, combining them with African horns and light, lilting guitar lines.
Chimombe got his start as a rhythm guitarist from Thomas Mapfumo’s Acid Band. He next moved to the Blacks Unlimited and OK Success. As one of Zimbabwe’s first resident Congolese bands, OK Success recruited top Zimbabwean musicians and produced a string of hits in the 1960s and 1970s.
Paul Tangi Mhova Mkondo, owner of Club Hide-Out 99, was instrumental in establishing James Chimombe who was the resident musician at Club Hideout 99. During the 1980s, Chimombe led the Ocean City Band, later leading the Huchi Band until his death. He also spent some time with the Real Sounds of Africa. Chimombe is best known for his hits ‘Jemedza’, ‘Kudakwashe’ and ‘Bindura’. In 1990, Chimombe died of AIDS-related illness in Zimbabwe.
Lovemore Majaivana
Majaivana was born Lovemore Tshuma in Gweru.
Aged four, his family moved to Bulawayo where Majaivana sang in the church choir in which his father was a minister.
By age 15, he became a drummer in a local Bulawayo band, the Hi-Chords.
After moving to the capital city, Salisbury (now Harare), he gave up drumming and began singing in nightclubs playing Tom Jones and Elvis Presley songs.
After playing in Bulawayo for four years, he returned to the then Salisbury and formed his own band, Jobs Combination, named after Job’s Nightclub (owned by then businessman Job Kadengu) where the group was the resident band.
By age 16, the musician in Majaivana was evident. He and his friend Mtshapi built their own first set of drums from plastics and empty cardboard barrels cut in half.
They carried these drums all over the local Beer Gardens (Manwele and New Bhawa) in Bulawayo playing to adoring patrons for a meagre fee or whatever the patrons threw into the hat.
This brazen effort by Majaivana paid off a year later when he acquired a real set of drums.
Majaivana became lead singer for the Hi-Chords.
The Hi-Chords flourished under patronage of a local businessman Memo. Unlike other teenagers, Memo groomed them and gave them a clean cut image. They wore suits and appeared very professional. That marketing genius by Memo earned the Hi-Chords instant success.
They had access to instruments, transportation and good management.
Under Memo, they travelled extensively in and around Bulawayo. They played at weddings (Macdonald Hall) and local Boys Clubs. Soon they were playing at bigger venues like the then famous Valley Hotel, the Great Northern, Marisha Cocktail Bar and many others.
Lovemore liked to dance as he sang, hence the name Majaivana, derived from the English word ‘jive’. His early music covered teeny-bopper, bubblegum and rock as well as the Tom Jones ballads.
They covered the Beatles, Grassroots, Rolling Stones and any top hits between 1968 and 1970.
1974 – early 1980s
Jobs Combination also teamed up with blind singer Fanyana Dube and performing various popular musical idioms. They had several successful singles early on and their debut album, Isitimela, was a big seller. Despite all this, the band broke up shortly thereafter and Majaivana sang with the Real Sounds for about two months.
1980s popularity
The turning point in his career came when he joined the Zulus, a band from Victoria Falls which featured two of his brothers. Finally having a stable base from which to work, Majaivana and his band released an album of traditional folk songs, Salanini Zinini, that he and his brothers had learned from their mother in 1984. From then on, he departed from his former Western influences and his popularity steadily grew especially in Ndebele-speaking Matabeleland and Bulawayo in particular. His first international album was released in 1990.
— Source — Wikipedia


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