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Gemma: The woman who upped Winky D’s game

Gemma Griffiths, a Zimbabwean soul music artiste has been trending quite a lot locally after she collaborated with Winky D on his MuGarden track that was released two weeks ago.

Gemma Griffiths
Gemma Griffiths

In the love song, Gemma, who is of white origin, captured many with her Shona vocals. Her pronunciation of imagine, which she sang as imajeni, also made the song interesting as many were fascinated by her singing.

In the video that was shot in South Africa and reached one million views on YouTube this week, Gemma plays the role of the biblical Eve. She is captured with a snake (the devil) around her neck while Winky plays Adam. No doubt, this video will take Winky D — an artiste who had been reluctant to shoot quality videos — places as it has an international standard showing that a lot of work was put into it.

For Gemma, who released her debut My Town EP last year, this video has put her in the spotlight, something that will likely boost her music career.

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The MuGarden video, however, is not the first time that locals have interacted with Gemma as she first won the hearts of many locals when she did a rendition of Winky D’s Musarova Bigman in 2016. She then followed it up with another cover of Jah Prayzah’s Mudhara Vachauya in 2017. So good were her vocals on both songs that many became interested in her and urged her to come up with her own music.

Having been raised in Harare, Gemma, who is based in Cape Town, recorded her own music and continued to work closely with Zimbabwean musicians. In her career, she has shared the stage with Jah Prayzah and the late Oliver Mtukudzi at concerts in South Africa. In Zimbabwe, she performed at festivals such as Hifa, Miombo Magic and Shoko Festival.

Of note is that she performed for the UK’s prestigious music channel “Mahogany Sessions” and also opened for Grammy Award winning UK artiste Joss Stone as part of Stone’s World Tour. It is no wonder why the MuGarden song is getting airplay on UK chart shows.

But who is Gemma?

Saturday Leisure (SL) sought out to find out more about Gemma Griffiths (GG) who is currently touring Africa. Below is her interview:

(SL) Who is Gemma Griffiths?

(GG) I am a Zimbabwean soul musician who grew up in Harare. I started singing when I was in nursery school and have always been drawn to music. I studied in university to be a musician and play the piano, trumpet and guitar.

(SL) Where were you born and where are you based?

(GG) I was born in Cape Town as my parents were there, but I was brought back home to Zimbabwe when I was six days old. Right now, I am based in a Land Rover as I drive through Africa making music.

(SL) Your Shona is quite refined, where did you learn to speak it?

(GG) At home in Zimbabwe through chatting and living there.

(SL) When did you start singing?

(GG) I was always singing. My whole family is musical and it was always just a part of me. It felt natural.

(SL) Do you have an album or your own music? If so, where can it be found?

(GG) Yes my debut EP titled My Town is on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and YouTube.

(SL) You have done several renditions of Zimbabwean artistes’ music, what inspired you?

(GG) I have always loved taking a piece of music and putting a twist on it, making it acoustic, or adding my own stamp on it. It’s such a fun process and it just sort of happened.

(SL) Do you have a particular music genre? If so, which one is it?

(GG) Acoustic soul.

(SL) Other than music, what do you do for a living?

(GG) I love exploring, travelling and writing.

(SL) Your collaboration with Winky D, how did it happen?

(GG)We just started chatting about the track and before we knew it, we were in studio. He’s fantastic to work with and a really great artiste. He knows his music well and is so great as a person. He is humble, fun and down to earth.

(SL) Where was the MuGarden video shot and weren’t you scared of the snake?

(GG) We shot the video in South Africa and surprisingly, I wasn’t afraid of the snake. I thought I would be, but the second I was holding her, I realised she was just a gentle soul.

(SL) What can we expect from you this year?

(GG) Music, music, music and lots of it as well as this Africa trip. I’m sharing the experiences of this amazing continent on Instagram at @drivingpamwe.

(SL) What do you think can be done to develop the Zimbabwe music industry?

(GG) The Zimbabwean music scene is filled with incredible artists and amazing talent. We just need to support the artistes wholeheartedly (by going to their concerts and sharing their music).

(SL) When can fans expect a live performance from you?

(GG) Soon! I will be announcing my plans to come to Zimbabwe at some point on Instagram and Facebook. Chronicle.