Zimbabwe: SA Gig to Remember Chimombe 30 Years On

23 October 2020

Today marks 30 years since the death of talented vocalist and guitarist James Chimombe.

Chimombe rose to fame in the late 80s as he performed with the OK Success Band, the Acid Band, the Ocean City Band, and the Huchi Band, among others.

His family has organised a commemoration gig in South Africa tomorrow, which will be headlined by some Zimbabweans based there who will share the stage with South African musicians.

In an interview with The Herald Arts, Chimombe's third born Davitah, who is based in South Africa, said all was set for the commemoration gig in Benoni, South Africa this weekend.

Chimombe passed away on October 23, 1990, aged 39, when Davitah was just eight years old.

Some of the musicians who are billed to perform at the 30-year anniversary include South African music legend Freddy "Amadamara" Gwala, Platform One, Dino Mudondo, Davitah Chimombe and Pamela "Gonyeti" Zulu.

"We will converge at Phenyani Jazz Bar in Benoni, Gauteng, to commemorate and celebrate my father's life," said Davitah. "It is a huge honour for me to have been given this opportunity by promoters to headline my departed father's 30-year commemorations.

"Everyone knows that James Chimombe was a legend, and 30 years later we keep enjoying his music. So for me to share the stage with other artistes like Freddy Gwala and Platform One whom I grew up listening to, is a huge honour that I will cherish forever.

"This coming Saturday (tomorrow) I will show everyone that my father's music legacy is in safe hands. I will perform some of his greatest hit songs."

Davitah said it was hard growing up without a father, but he soldiered under the care of other family members.

"I was very young when he died and it took me sometime to understand and adjust to the situation," he said. "I then wanted to follow his footsteps during that time, but our long-time family friend Phillip Svosve stopped me, urging me to pursue education first.

"We were born seven of us, that is Tendai, Freddy, Kudakwashe, Donald, Linda and Linden, myself. Now, only five of us are alive after Kudakwashe and Freddy passed away recently."

Prior to the upcoming show, Davitah has been busy in the studio working on his debut album "Chakuma" which is set for launch next weekend.

"My music genre is Afro-fusion," he said. "Over the course of the year I have been busy in the studio working with different musicians such as Willom Tight and Phillip Svosve who have been helping me in my musical journey.

"When people hear that you are James Chimombe's son, big things are expected from you, so I have to make a name for myself and carve my own career."

Since the show will be staged in South Africa, a notable absentee from the show will be James Chimombe's eldest child, Tendai, who said she could not travel because of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

"I wish I could be there, but because of the travel restrictions due to the Covid-19, I will not be taking part, but we are also organising another show soon back home to celebrate my father's life," she said.

"I believe in the Lord and he knows all plans that he has for us. This year we had the privilege to perform at the Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) and StarBrite where they honoured my father. I also did the early editions of Gara Mumba online shows. Right now I am back in the studio working on a single, 'Unondiona Saaniko?'"

Chimombe was a force in the music industry and had a number of hits in his catalogue, such as "Bindura", "Jikinya", "Siyawawoneka" and "Cecilia"

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