In a Zimbabwean environment often associated with hardships and internal strife to keep us down this was a refreshing experience. Judging by the sheer exuberance of the performances by Patience Masiyambiri-Mandizha, Fulton Bheme, and Pianos Jaravaza last Tuesday at the Alliance Francaise in Harare, one might have thought otherwise.
It is a rare occurrence for the three mushrooming gospel acts to share a stage together, but it happened and it speaks volumes of our local talents, thanks to Patience and the team for making the concert happen. It was a packed house, an indication that our gospel stars are as well receiving their due recognition.
The event offered nothing short of humour as Harare-based comedienne Madam Boss was the host, seeing to it that even in the middle of worship plunge people have their lighter moments. Even when she accidentally swore, it sounded less impious.
Of special note among the high-profile attendees were Mupostori Wency, Pastor Bhura, and Timothy Ngwenya.
The highest bidder for the new CD was Pianos Jaravaza who bought it for $60.
Fulton Bheme and The Trumpet of Praise were the first to take on the stage, performing two of his singles, Mavambo and Kurauone, off his impending project. The ZINGOMA boss held a confident fort on the podium, always alert to tempi changes and the entrances were spot-on.
Worshipper Pianos Jaravaza and his thirteen piece band, the Emmanuel Praise followed up and from their very first entrance, it was clear that Jaravaza was a musician who valued refinement and flashes of brilliance. He gave out a dazzling and an electrifying performance of his two songs, later to return again shortly after Patience to deliver Dzikamai, an upbeat song inspired by Ecclesiastes 9:11.
The double stops and multitude of running scales were delivered with surgical precision which served to make the lyrical moments more sincere, leaving many to conclude that Pianos Jaravaza is nothing less than a national treasure.
Then came the lady of the moment herself, Patience Masiyambiri-Mandizha. Donning a red outfit and a visibly sweltering makeup, her costume and that of her backing vocalists were a visual spectacle on their own. Together with her ten-piece band, they were awarded a rapturous ovation by the appreciative audience before she could dive the auditorium into yet another level of praise frenzy.
Revellers were treated with gems from her then-launched new album entitled Mirira as she opened her performance with Ndiani and then went on to usher Mumoyo Mangu, Mirira, Ndezvedu (reportedly, her favourite track off the new album), Ipa, Anonyaradza and also other two yet-to-be-recorded singles Ndiye Mwari and Mhinduro.
Mandizha’s singing, combined with her dynamic choreography, is an ambitious and athletic centred stage production which at times impacted her ability to perform at full vocal strength – no one should be surprised by this reality when so much of her effort is replete with fast-paced physical movement.
To the band’s credit and with vocal amplification, their sound was stable and consistently on a pitch, varying from one song to another as she goes about unravelling diamond upon diamond of her rich discography that she proudly terms a fusion of Jazz and Traditional overtones. Impressive we will attest, their repertoire was diverse and inclusive with ballads, praise songs and contemporary gospel selections smartly inserted.
And because a set that searing needed a little break, the diva whose span as a soloist is now nearing a decade took some time off, giving Pianos Jaravaza another moment to shine.
She was back again in the next thirty minutes or so, and virtually the entire house rose to its feet to clap their hands and wave their arms as she prepared to pounce again.
With her second set, the mother of two took a turn to embellish yet again her strong melodic line more floridly with songs such Zita Rake Ndiani, Jesu Hama, Tapombonoka and Baba Vangu, a collaboration with the Chalenams. And because she appreciates and contributed to some of these works by her fellow contemporaries, she also gave her own renditions of Makomborero by Fungisai and Ivai Nesu by the late Chioniso Maraire with greater vigour and richer harmonies.
Soon the concert was drawing to an end, but the audience was getting footloose and ready to shake, singalong, and rattle. However, it could not end without acknowledging this one person who significantly made her who she is today: her mother, Pastor Masiyambiri. The veteran recorded artist took on stage and with the help of the band performed Nditungamire and Zvamaronga as per the floor’s request.
Thereafter, Patience picked it head-on and closed with Hondo and Akadzabwera, after which the band gaily shuffled its way off stage.
You simply can’t fake the type of joy that the singer poured into the music during the matinee concert. It was in their eyes and lit up their smiles. It could be heard in their voices and seen in their dance moves. And it was certainly contagious, as the fans were swept away by a steady supply of uplifting anthems.
What a night to never be forgotten! The Patience Masiyambiri-Mandizha Live In Concert as it was dubbed, was a ‘must see and hear’ experience for anyone, fans, and enthusiasts of gospel music.
Now as her new album is out, we cannot wait to attend more of her concerts.