Mai Charamba and her husband, together with the group The Fishers of Men, are busy putting final touches to their respective albums, set for release on April 8, in another musical feat as they enriched their discographies.
Yes, two powerful separate albums, to be launched by the gospel super couple at the Zimbabwe College of Music next month. Mai Charamba’s upcoming album titled Voice of Miriam, carries eight tracks while Baba Charamba’s album titled Abba Father, carries nine tracks, including the song Tudikidiki — a collaboration with the melodious CCAP Voice of Mbare.
They said they have not forgotten their fans.
“The reason for the dual offering is that we both have taken long since we released albums as individuals,” said Baba Charamba.
“WeNazareta  was a collaboration and Mai Charamba’s The Gospel and my Pashoko Pangoma were released in 2006 and 2010 respectively.”
And more importantly, the force behind their music is God the Almighty, with his presence their sole guide.
“God is definitely going to speak to people’s lives through these albums. We didn’t record them alone, we always felt His presence right from the composing stage. It’s better to wait. Let the music speak for itself,” he said.
Baba Charamba gave an insight on the upcoming albums, saying the song themes vary, with salvation being the principal matter and they also touch on family life, with a little bit of religious commentary, as well as passion singing.
For a couple regarded as one of the most impactful gospel artists in Zimbabwe, having a combined celebrated 13 albums, 10 by the husband who is revered in music circles as Baba Charamba, what inspired them to venture into this genre?
“It’s a calling from God the Almighty, who comes first in our marital union,” said Baba Charamba, as he laid out bare how his family functioned.
“We believe our union is more to do with God’s will than personal affections, though we love each other so much. It’s not by coincidence that we sing gospel. I received a calling in which an announcement was made to say, ‘I was being commissioned into singing for the kingdom of God’.”
The Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) member reminisced on how he prayed for a spouse. He would ask God to provide him with one who would be able and willing to complement his efforts in the fulfilment of his divine mandate — singing for the Kingdom of God.
Olivia, also a member of AFM, was the answer.
After they got married in 1997, Olivia became a backing vocalist in the Fishers of Men band led by her husband before she began solo projects with the album Amen that was followed by Daily Bread and The Gospel.
Popularly known as Mai Charamba, she rose to prominence with songs composed by her husband and featuring friends Tariro Muringa and Spiwe Chimuti as backing vocalists.
After hit songs, including Machira Chete, Buruka and Nyika Zimbabwe, also came the commercial aspect of their success story as the couple did not only enjoy the spiritual, but the material fruits of their labour.
“It’s a bit of a controversial subject. Gospel music is both an industry and a religious activity. Approximately 80% of the resources that are sought by a gospel artists are financially expensive,” hesaid.
Inevitably, this calls for an artist to engage in mechanisms that help to recover costs. They may sell their musical products, services or merchandise, Baba Charamba explains further.
“Once monetary transactions take centre stage, there is a commercial complexion to the whole thing. Many might want to do it for free, but it’s not possible,” he said.
“The Bible itself is not a cheap product. What comes for free is salvation though Jesus paid a blood prize for it on our behalf.”
Some gospel musicians’ careers have been cut short by scandals. Can one continue singing gospel if they are mired in things considered as sinning in the Bible?
Baba Charamba said while scandals in general are immoral, some are mere fabrications against successful artists.
“If one is in a habit of cheating God while occupying a religious office, he is bound to be exposed or punished by Him. If genuine mistakes happen, people are forgiving if one owns up to their mistakes and publicly shows remorse,” he said.
“I think it’s not for one to decommission themselves when they sin. Christians are made holy not because of the good they do but what Jesus did on the cross. Unlike Judas Iscariot who committed suicide, we should be like Peter, who, after denying Jesus, repented and reformed. Salvation is a process that ends upon death or rapture, hence the need for believers to continue picking each other from sin-inspired fallings.
“Upcoming gospel artists should first know why the genre adopted the name ‘gospel’. The main thrust of the music is the desire to further the objectives of the biblical teachings, particularly from the four gospels [Luke, Mark, Matthew and John]. It’s not about swag, modernity, affluence, profiteering or self aggrandisement, but salvation.
“The benefits it brings are welcome, but must not be sought at the expense of winning souls. If one gets into gospel music for wrong reasons, they are bound to lose. To those with the right attitude, they continue to cover the space they have; no matter how small, God will reward,” he said.
Baba Charamba graduated with a national certificate in Music and holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz.