Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Storm over James Chimombe brand

By Prince Mushawevato

Tendai Chimombe, the eldest daughter of the late James Chimombe, is a bitter person despite successfully reviving her late father’s group, the Huchi Band.

Tendai Chimombe, the eldest daughter of the late James Chimombe
Tendai Chimombe, the eldest daughter of the late James Chimombe

A cocktail of challenges threatens to blow to smithereens the little that she has achieved thus far. Tendai, whose debut album “Tribute to the Legendary —James Chimombe” was released late last year says apart from the cold shoulder she is receiving from top promoters, she has had to battle a cousin whose “unorthodox” business practice is threatening the longevity of the revived Huchi Band.

The cousin, Lincoln Chimombe, who is alleged to be fighting for monopoly of the James Chimombe brand is said to be in the custom of soliciting for gigs that he eventually fails to fulfil despite getting advance payments.

Lincoln’s father Simba and the late James are brothers.

“Everything was built from scratch and the future was looking bright. However, the behaviour of one of my cousins named Lincoln or Mupatsa is threatening everything that we have been working for and dreaming to achieve,” she said.

“He is in the habit of begging for gigs in different clubs but usually fails to fulfil them and consequently it is my brand that is now suffering. I have had to deal with a number of club owners that wrongly come to recover their money from me since they assume I work with him.”

Tendai was, however, quick to point out that she has no problem with his cousin using his father’s brand as other families have successfully done so.

“I’m not saying he should stop music but I’m just against his rogue behaviour. We can just do like the Chimbetus (Allan, Sulu, Douglas,Tryson) and promote the Chimombe brand.

“If he is failing to do shows because he has no band, he can come and join me or ask for my band members each time he books a gig and fails to hire session instrumentalists. I have permanent band members and am willing to help him since he does not have a band,” said Tendai.

Getting hold of Lincoln was a mammoth task.

The guy who moves around telling anyone who cares to listen that he is James Chimombe’s son is always changing his contact details and lodgings every now and then.

None of the four contacts that this writer got from different sources, including two bar owners he owes (names withheld), were getting through by the time of going to print.

However, in an earlier meeting with this publication, Lincoln claimed that he neither has a problem with any promoter or family member.

“I have a band that will help keep mudhara’s legacy alive. Most of the things you hear about me are false,” he said.

But Tendai feels hard done by promoters and club owners.

She feels that she is not getting the same support that is being enjoyed by the other sons and daughters of legends.

Certainly, the musician finds herself in the same predicament being faced by the Dembo brothers, Tendai and Morgan.

The musician has, nonetheless, received a boost from a permanent slot she has at Joy Centre paFio in Machipisa where she plays every Thursday. The event is known as “China Chemadzimai” and is meant to promote women in music.

She also regularly features at the now popular City Sports Bar Jam Session.

Tendai inherited the group long after the sympathy for the late James had fizzled out.

“It has been a tough path for me ever since I started music in 2011. Promoters appear not to have faith in women and as a result we are not treated fairly. Fellow musicians have also not supported me that much.

“In 2014, I held my father’s commemoration gig and only Tendai and Selmor came to support me. Not even a single promoter was part of the event despite having extended invitations to them,” recounts Chimombe’s daughter.

Tendai started her professional music career in 2011 after enrolling at the Zimbabwe College of Music. Over the years, she has worked with a number of artistes namely Emmanuel Thomas, the late Nyasha Bare and Cleopas Manyowa as a backing vocalist.

She is a holder of various academic qualifications, among them a diploma in secretarial studies from Harare Polytechnic College and a diploma in designing.

She used to be employed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

“Something kept telling me that I had done everything else but I still needed to go for the stage. Before this, I was employed elsewhere and I was running away from music. Having lived with a legend for so many years, I knew what was involved so I had my own fears as a female.

“Also, the death of my father pained me so much such that each time I heard his music, I would breakdown and cry so venturing into music was out of the question. I could not even visit his grave, I took time staying away from everything associated with him. It only took divine help for me to move on,” narrates Tendai.

The musician has been working with the Huchi Band since 2014.

The group comprises of lead guitarist Chris Saungweme formerly with Black Eagles, bass guitarist Tafadzwa Marowa (son to Tendai and also plays for Winky D), drummer Steven or Stavo, Cleopas Manyowa (backing vocalist/show organiser), Abdul Musa (dancer and keyboardist) and Charles Areketa (brother to Tobias Areketa).

Surviving members of the original Huchi Band have since retired due to age.

“We started doing rehearsals in 2014 at a club in Warren Park and I can now sing each and every one of James Chimombe’s songs. I’m targeting the ghetto for my shows because that is where most of our fans are,” she said.

“A love song called ‘Siya Wawoneka’ that is commonly mistaken for a death track is my favourite. I personally got to know that it’s a love song in my adulthood.”

Tendai comes from a family of three boys and two girls. Unfortunately, two of the legend’s sons — Kudakwashe (who has song ‘Kudakwashe’ named after him) and Freddy, are now late.

Tendai is working on a video album that carries remixes of James songs “Jemedza” and “Masutu”.

Her wish is to have her own public address system as well as instruments since she is currently hiring.

Some of the tracks on her debut eight-track debut album include “Anondida”, “Zuva ramakaenda”, “Kutsamwa”, “Baba Vevana” and two remixes of James Chimombe’s “Masutu” and “Jemedza”. The Sunday Mail