Linus Kadzere: Celebrating the legacy of a lion-hearted Shumba in Leicester
… Thomas Mapfumo, Mathias Mhere, Sulumani Chimbetu in “Lee” Kadzere celebration concert
In 2005, Linus “Lee” Kadzere booked Thomas Mapfumo to perform at The Athena, a venue in Leicester that had been closed for over a decade.
The US-based Mukanya had only been in the UK for one gig, a birthday celebration, organised by Lee’s wife, Priscilla Kadzere.
However, in the midst of his 40th birthday celebration, Lee had a lightbulb moment. Here was his favourite artiste, Mapfumo, performing in the UK for the first time in over three years. Why could he not entice him for more shows in the British Isles, reacquainting him with his Zimbabwean fans?
That stroke of genius by a man, known for his business shrewdness and opportunism, kick started a tour which, once it was rolling, somehow found itself at The Athena, a long-abandoned venue in the East Midlands.
The Athena, originally founded as an Odeon Cinema in 1936, was convinced to open its doors and there few could have known at the time, Lee had just blown a breath of new life into a venue that had been comatose for over a decade.
18 years later, Mukanya, this time flanked by Mathias Mhere and Sulumani Chimbetu, is set to make a return to The Athena under totally different circumstances.
The Athena, located in the cultural heartbeat of Leicester City, is now a thriving venue which is usually fully booked.
Lee, the man who inspired its revival, has passed away, leaving a gap that has been hard to fill for the Zimbabwean British community. His legacy, however, is being safeguarded by his daughter, entrepreneur Kirsty Kadzere, who founded Greatest Shumba Entertainment Limited, in memory of her late father.
In an interview with Nehanda Radio, Kirsty said the music extravaganza, dubbed the “#Linus’LegacyofLove Memorial Concert” felt like the appropriate way to honour a man who delighted in bringing joy to the hearts of people through his blockbuster events.
“The legacy of a man is always felt through the hearts he touched. My late dad, Linus (Lee) William Kadzere, was an embodiment of unconditional love and sacrifice.
“He would go above and beyond to ensure everyone was taken care of and his legacy of unconditional love lives on in the lives of the people he touched.
“Why a concert? Bringing people together for an unforgettable experience is what my dad did! Whether you knew him or not, his highly anticipated events guaranteed a night to remember! To know Lee was to love him,” she said.
A concert honouring Lee at the Athena, feels like a full circle moment, bringing back memories of his transformation of the once dormant venue into a cultural nerve centre that now plays host to some of the most popular artistes from around the globe.
“Lee was a mentor to many and a genius businessman. Embarking on many business ventures and succeeding! A mastermind whose limitations stopped at nothing. His love for Zimbabwean music, gave him a knack for music promotion.
“Back in 2005, my Mum, Priscilla, had booked Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited to perform at the surprise 40th she threw Lee. He then proceeded to take Mukanya on a UK tour!
“During this tour, Lee discovered the-then desolate Athena Events Venue in Leicester, which had been closed for over a decade and encouraged them to reopen, making Mukanya the first ever artist to take the Athena stage.
“The likes of Burna Boy and Davido have since graced the Athena stage. The venue became a home-ground for several notable UK-based Zimbabwean promoters and remains operating today,” she said.
Through her company, Kirsty said, she was continuing the legacy of a who went from a school teacher in Zimbabwe into one of the most culturally influential figures in the diaspora.
“The company was founded in memory of Lee. It is a way of rekindling the legacy and heritage of Lee through musical promotion and this concert was key to bringing forth TGSE into the playing field.
“I have many visions to execute for the future and I look forward to seeing the company grow with my dad’s intercession. I hope to continue his legacy and be half the business (wo)man he was,” she told Nehanda Radio.
With Mukanya now in the twilight years of his career, Kirsty said she was excited to bring her father’s favourite artiste to his old stomping ground.
“Mukanya was my dad’s favourite artist of his lifetime. When they eventually met, the love and respect extended beyond the stage. Prior to Lee’s 40th surprise birthday, Mukanya had not received any UK bookings for 3 years and the promotional tour Lee took him on, solidified their relationship.
“18 years later, I am honoured to be the last promoter ever to bring Mukanya to the Athena to honour my late Dad for the launch night of my very first company which falls on his 2-year anniversary,” she said.
With the show starting at 4:30pm and including various genres and styles of music, Kirsty said the gig would be open to everyone. Some of the proceeds from the concert would be going to charities that Lee supported when he was alive.
“Despite Lee’s anniversary falling on a Sunday, I want people to be a part of this extraordinary show I have planned. With an earlier start time, it enables people to come, enjoy and leave relatively early, finishing their week on a high! Sunday Funday!
“EVERYONE IS WELCOME! A percentage of ticket sales will be going to Mutemwa Leprosy Centre and Scope UK, two charities Lee was passionate about during his lifetime.
Not only will you be witnessing Zimbabwean greatness as we enjoy Gospel, Sungura and Chimurenga music, but you will be making a difference by purchasing a ticket!” she told Nehanda Radio.