…on fame and longevity in music
FIRSTLY, it was Pastor Charles Charamba and the Fishers of Men band and then came Mai Olivia Charamba and now the music dynasty is growing with daughters — Shalom and Eternity —- joining their parents in song and dance.
Now popularly known as the First Family of Zimbabwean Gospel, the Charambas often say: “We are called to ministry through singing and preaching”. There is certainly a lot to expect from this gospel family. Pastor Charamba (PC) speaks to The NewsHawks’ Jonathan Mbiriyamveka (JM) on how the Charambas have evolved musically and the challenges of keeping music in the family.
JM: Tell us how you have evolved as a musician.
PC: We give all the glory to God. There’s not much to say, it’s mainly to do with our ability to compose songs that are dearly loved by many; songs that stick in people’s minds and hearts. We are thankful that our band, Fishers of Men, has maintained consistency in play and musical expression. Our challenge prior to any performance is related to the songs that should make up the playlist. It’s a rare challenge and we glorify God for the equal respect given to the majority of our songs.
JM: We noticed that you not only sing with your wife but also daughters Shalom and Eternity. Can you introduce them to us formally, their ages and professions?
PC: Shalom is the eldest and is 22. She’s studying for a degree at university. Eternity is 19, about to enroll as an undergraduate. They are not full-time backing vocalists of Fishers of Men per se. We already have Bridget Mlambo and Mrs Lindiwe Kadiki. Those and Mai Charamba are the permanent singers. Our daughters have their own establishment in the making and it involves their other three siblings. They join us as and when they desire to, for interest’s sake.
They are welcome to become musicians if they decide to as long as they factor in the changes and dynamics that are associated with the arts industry. They also need to allow God to lead and direct them through prayer and faith. They are all musical. They are welcome to express themselves as full-time or part-time musicians.
JM: You are singing as a family, what are the challenges you face?
PC: Singing as a family for me is a blessing. It always gives more spiritual energy praying together and worshipping together as a family. The downside of it is that it can tear members apart if not handled properly. We manage through God’s grace. It needs proper schooling and wisdom to distinguish professional setting and family settings.
There are times when I have to direct my wife or daughter as the producer of their song and the language may not be as sweet as that of a father or husband. It becomes easier when the people involved are mature enough to tell the difference between home and industry. You also tend to direct attention towards one thing as a family and that may deprive other sides which could be yearning for equal attention.
JM: What are your views on the exclusion of gospel artists from the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) legends @40 list?
PC: The exclusion from the Nama awards didn’t dampen my wife and my spirit at all. We accept the discretion and diligence of the adjudicators as well as the other professionals involved. I do adjudicate at some high-profile events as well and I am aware how difficult it is to split contesting participants. Gospel music missed out, we trust God for tomorrow.
JM: The music sector has been affected by Covid-19 in a big way. How did you ensure you reach out to your fans?
PC: Covid-19 has caused some inconveniences in the industry. We only got access to our fans by making use of virtual technology. We sang online, preached online and interacted online. Of course, it hasn’t been perfect because some fans do not have the necessary gadgets to link up with us on technological platforms.
JM: Nowadays music is more about visuals or videos. What are you doing in this regard?
PC: We are conforming to the standards that are being presented by the times. We have been adjusting by reloading our music video and ramping some of them. All the newer songs are accompanied by videos. We had to invest in the equipment that help in video production as well though it is not enough. We are grateful to the Lord that it’s going on well. Our music is becoming more and more accessible to the global market through the various online platforms.
JM: Which musicians inspire you?
PC: The generation of the early 1980s made the list of artists who inspired me. Having grown during a time when gospel music was scarce, I learned a lot from those who shaped Zimbabwean pop music. Though they can number in tens, the Bundu Boys had a special place in me. Most yesteryear artists including international ones like Pat Kelly, Lionel Peterson, Itani Madima and others inspired me.
JM: When last did you release an album as Baba naMai Charamba or as solo artists?
PC: We last released in 2017, Abba Father and Voice of Miriam respectively, launched as a dual release.
JM: The music business has changed in the last few years. Would you consider having a manager to manage your business?
PC: Yes, the explorations are ongoing though trust is the main challenge in arts business management. In the meantime, we are outsourcing knowledge and applying according to own understanding.
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