Gemma’s tough climb
By Veronica Gwaze
Gemma Griffiths is an artiste who needs no introduction to the local music scene.
The multi-award-winning pop singer has been around for a couple of years, creating a name for herself mostly through renditions of popular tracks.
Notable songs she has done over the years include Jah Prayzah’s “Mudhara Vachauya” and the late Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi’s “Neria”.
The South African-born artiste, who was raised in Harare, has won the hearts of many with the way she easily sings in Shona.
However, Gemma’s greatest breakthrough came last year when she was featured on Winky D’s monster hit “MuGarden”.
The songbird believes it is her best collaboration effort thus far.
In the award-winning track, Gemma complemented Winky D on vocals, delivering pulsating Shona verses.
The song reached more than a million views within a fortnight on YouTube and also gained international traction.
Naturally, this was supposed to be the dawn of a new era for Gemma.
The collaboration placed the “Musarova Bigman” rendition singer in the limelight, and all she needed to do was maintain the momentum.
Sadly, that has not been the case.
She released several songs after “MuGarden” but not any has attracted meaningful attention.
“In the music industry, there are a lot of challenges, there is no clear cut way to get to where you want to be,” said Gemma in an interview.
“It is a career choice that comes with a lot of pressure. You have to figure it out along the way, craft an image of who you are as a person and as an artiste.”
Gemma had planned to collaborate with Dr Tuku on “Hakuna Zita” before the untimely demise of the music superstar.
She said the hymn was one of Dr Tuku’s favourites.
The idea of a collaboration, which was to be the duo’s first project, was born after Dr Tuku listened to Gemma’s original version of the song.
Gemma and Dr Tuku’s friendship began in South Africa at the icon’s 65th birthday concert when the two shared the stage.
In fulfilment of Tuku’s dream, last year she went on to make a solo production of “Hakuna Zita”.
However, the hymn failed to make an impact upon release.
Perhaps it could have been a different case had the late music icon put his Midas touch on the project.
“After sharing the stage we stayed connected, we would chat a lot as I watched and marvelled at him from afar,” she said.
“The experience of sharing a performance with him is still an exceptionally special thing to me.
“He reached out for a collaboration after listening to my first mini version of ‘Hakuna Zita’ on YouTube.
“It was his favourite hymn but unfortunately, he passed on before we went into the studio. I ended up doing the full version myself in his honour and I consider the project to be more about him (Dr Tuku) than anything else.”
Two months ago, Gemma released another track titled “+263” featuring Natty O and Asaph. It is a good production by all measures, but it is still failing to work wonders for her.
As a result, the “Titungamire” singer now wants to try her luck on the small screen through a reality show.
The move, she hopes, will boost her visibility.
“Considering that my life is full of exciting experiences like living in a car and writing lots of music and the fact that next year I will be touring East and West Africa, I think I have a lot to share.
“I also have a clip with my good friend Natty O, which we recorded in Chimanimani recently when we went hiking. I believe that I have a story to tell to the world. I want to have a situation whereby when one listens to my music or watches my show, they get to see and understand who I am and where I am coming from. In fact, that is one of the greatest lessons that (Dr) Tuku taught me.”
Gemma released her first extended play (EP) in 2018 which contained four songs among them “My Town” and “Musarova Bigman”.
The artiste has to date held shows with South African artists and bands such as Goodluck, Jimmy Nevis, Majozi, Freshly Ground and Matthew Mole.
Back home, she has been one of the major highlights at high profile events like Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa), Miombo Magic and Shoko Festival.
Outside music, the pop singer’s hobbies include dancing, hiking, cooking and walking.
Gemma is a name of Latin origin, meaning gem or gemstone. The Sunday Mail