Sungura musician and Khiama Boys frontman Nicholas Zakaria has rekindled the yesteryear Khiama Boys magic with a six-track offering titled Zadzisa that promises to change his fortunes and once again catapult him to the zenith of the sungura genre.
The new project features the young and fiery bassist Simon Mutambi, an Alick Macheso and Zakaria protégé, who has not hidden his praise for his two sungura idols. Zakaria reckons it will be all systems go once the album hits the streets next month.
"I have always known what the fans love and I am highly confident that the new album will rekindle the Khiama Boys yesteryear sound that made us a darling of many yet fused with modern beats that will give fans a sound to cherish," Madzibaba said.
"In Simon Mutambi, we have reintroduced the booming bass yet submerged and in sync with the mesmerising lead and rhythm guitars for that reminiscent of the Khiama sound that made our brand a household name."
The Khiama Boys of old was made up of some of the celebrated Zimbabwean sungura music greats in Macheso and Zakaria Zakaria, who is younger brother of the left-handed lead guitarist.
The star-studded Khiama Boys of old was a marvel to watch and was strong in all departments from vocals, lead and bass guitar as well as drums and rhythm guitars.
When Senior Lecturer, as Zakaria is known in music circles, took that music sabbatical reportedly to focus on his cross-border truck driving work, Macheso and the younger Zakaria took a gamble and formed Orchestra Mberikwazvo which went on to become a force to reckon with.
While the older Zakaria and Khiama Boys founder remained in the game producing quality yet under-marketed music, he was rather subdued and played second fiddle to Macheso, including some new sungura music names that were buoyed by the sungura giant's laxity.
The Khiama Boys ship, however, seems to have taken a turn for the better for Zakaria and his
Khiama Boys who walked away with the best sungura album gong at this year's edition of the Zimbabwe Music Awards (ZIMA) in January.
"The gods are smiling on me and I am encouraged by the positive strides that we are taking as Khiama Boys. I have always taken pride in the success of my students, but equally important is the fact that I remain a visible and recognised sungura music torch bearer," Madzibaba said.
"Our recent launch of the video to our golden oldie Zomvelamvela was fully subscribed and we are close to 30 000 views in close to two weeks. As we count down to the new album, I want to promise the fans a quality and cherished album which will take them down memory lane yet ushering them into the festive season in style."
The joint album comes with six tracks, three apiece between the sungura godfather and Mutambi and his Cobra Kings. Mutambi, who lent his bass guitar hand to the project, said he was honoured to be working with his music idol.
"Working with Mudhara Zakaria is a dream come true for me. I have always been a fan of his music and I remember in my early career days I would make sure that anyone who wanted to be part of my Cobra Kings outfit should be able to play Khiama Boys music," Mutambi said.
"We are done with the production and mastering of the album and we will be furnishing fans with finer details of the release date, but I can assure you that the album will be a scorcher and our sungura fans will have a sungura season to remember."
Zakaria has professionalised his music career following a two-year branding deal with Esteem Communications, a local public relations and brand development company which has worked with various brands across the sectors.
Creative director for Esteem Communications Walter Chiyanja said they were happy to work with Zakaria on his Khiama revival expedition and satisified with the results to date.
"Esteem Communications is a dream factory and when Zakaria approached us with a dream to rekindle his Khiama Boys brand of music last year, we felt humbled and challenged at the same time," Chiyanja said.
"First, we had to work on his digital footprint and marketing and we are happy to say his brand is now highly visible and interactive which has seen great interest in his work.
"Our public relations acumen has opened engagement with his fans and music stakeholders. We have had enquiries for international shows even during the lockdown period and we are hopeful that the new album will bring even better prospects for the sungura giant."
Chiyanja's sentiments were buttressed by Lazarus Zakaria, the Khiama Boys manager and son of the Senior Lecturer, who emphasised that good times were back at Khiama Boys.
"Khiama Boys is now an esteemed sungura music outfit and we are doing a lot to make sure we stay on top of our game both on and off the stage," Lazarus said.
"We are not going back with this new trajectory and we are covering a lot of lost ground thanks to our professionalism and commitment to excellence.
"During the lockdown period, Esteem Communications facilitated some advocacy work for Mudhara where he was working with Padare Enkundleni Men's Forum, a local non-governmental organisation, in the fight against gender-based violence.
"They also successfully organised the launch of the video to the song Zomvelamvela and work is underway to produce more videos including some from the soon-to-be-launched album."
Zakaria has remained one of the most respected musicians thanks to his level-headedness and drama-free life both on and off the stage and the recent engagement by Padare Enkundleni Men's Forum to partner them in their stop gender based-violence campaigns buttressed that view.