One weekend afternoon I was impressed by a group performance of one relatively unknown gospel outfit, Zvipo zvaJehovha, which made a surprise performance along South Avenue in the central business district of Harare. I soon noticed that the group which also belongs to the apostolic church, Zvipo zvaJehovha, was in fact selling their musical CDs. This is a new marketing technique
now employed by most musicians and artistes in order to survive the harsh effects of music piracy in Zimbabwe.
While the price tag of US$1 per copy of the CDs clearly justified the huge competition for the CDs which soon followed, it also appeared to me that many people were impressed by the group's melodies comprising of well-blended voices, clapping of hands and the rattles.
In an interview on Sunday last week, leader of the group and founder of the church Zvipo zvaJehovha, Madzibaba Amos Mupasi said his church took the decision to record its music as a way of growing the church.
It was also meant to support its members who are unemployed, while others are less privileged.
"I founded the apostolic church Zvipo zvaJehovha in 2009. The name Zvipo zvaJehovha means we are gifted with good voices and prophetic visions we receive from God. We decided to record our songs in order to utilise our vocal talents.
"We also wanted to grow our church from our CD sales. We realised we can support our church's widows and orphans with food and clothing from our CD sales. Most members of our group are also not employed, so they also survive on our CD sales," said Madzibaba Amos.
He said he wrote all the songs on his groups' albums, and added that the songs, which they recorded, were revealed to him in dreams together with their tunes.
"I write all our songs. The songs are revealed to me in dreams including their tunes. I even forget some of them but God reveals them to me.
"God uses us to convey his messages to the people through our music, said Madzibaba Amos.
He said his group uses mainly voices and rattles during their performances but explained that they would be happy to use modern musical instruments such as electric guitars and keyboards.
"Our problem right now is lack of sponsorship. We need sponsors to help support our music. Our wish is to be able to buy and use most of the modern musical instruments in recording our music.
"We also wish to record our music with professional recording companies in order to increase the marketability of our music but we are finding them very expensive at the moment" said Madzibaba Amos.
The group Zvipo ZvaJehovha started recording its music in 2009 and has since recorded three albums which include "Doctor", released in 2009, "Vagaratiya", released 2010, and their latest offering "Canaan" which was released this year in April.
The album Canaan carries eight songs which include "Bofu", "Vavengi Vangu", "Na na na", "Mweya Mutsvene", "Judgement", "Jesu weNazaretha", "Canaan" and "Canaan Remix".
The group comprises of nine members who include Madzimai Mupasi, wife to Madzibaba Amos Mupasi, Clayton and Tichaona Mutaranzwa, Martin Mutseki and Prosper Moyo among others.
Madzibaba Amos said his church believes in the Bible, adding that his group's music was based on teachings from the Holy Book.
He added that his group was free to perform anywhere if invited and that since its inception, it has performed in numerous private functions in Zimbabwe. Commenting on the general reception of their music in Zimbabwe, Madzibaba Amos said he was happy that many people appreciate and enjoy the music.
This acceptance was reflected in the type of crowds they pulled as a group during their performances, as well as the encouragement they receive from the general public.