ZimPraise concert: Memorable night

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Crowds stampede ZimPraise concert
I have a backstage pass so don’t hussle me, “brethren”. Yeah, check that with your boss. Let things slide and let me see what the madness I saw outside is all about.

I mean, the youths, kids and old folk have momentarily been turned into rock concert groupies trying to get a piece of this action. So it helps that one does this sort of job. Every job has its perks.

6 000 strong!
Having already perched myself on one of the seats I watch as the show begins to unfold. This is the “It’s All about Jesus” concert at the ZITF Hall Number Three on Sunday March 30 2014.

Soon enough close to 6 000 music fans will fill up this auditorium and groups in rapid succession will saunter onto stage and do their bit to quench the obviously hungry music fans.

As I said before, ZimPraise is a juggernaut and its sheer power is premised on the fact that out of many denominations and walks of life, they have all come together, all 120 of them.

Word of Life choir begins their set and leaves the stage shortly, followed by Bulawayo’s very own Vocal Ex. Vocal Ex’s performance is a bit shaky up till Eric Moyo walks onto stage.

Eric is a unique talent and he owns that stage setting off with Akahlulwa with which he mesmerises the crowd. He toys with the song doing about six key changes going up!

Moyo is a master at work and he milks that song for all that it’s worth. In short, he is the definitive singer of our time.

Later, Pastor G (Stanley Gwanzura) riffs from his catalogue and begins his set with his classic Count Your Blessing. The choir accentuated Munogona has the crowd lapping it all up.

Fever pitch
As ZimPraise choir comes on, I see crowds thronging again.

This time, the crowd’s direction is the stage. I am thinking is there going to be a stampede and might riot police need to be called?

Unhinged, unshackled, burly girls dancing and madalas jigging their pot bellies is a sight to be behold.

Fever pitch is reached with songs like Sungano and several others in different languages including Sotho and Ndebele.

All I knew at the end of the set is that you have to have a good carbo diet to attend a ZimPraise concert. If you try sitting you won’t see anything!

Oh let me mention that home boy and Beitbridge-born Takesure Ncube was just loved by the crowd. He had them worshipping.

The boy is a serious worshipper with an eye, it seems, on God’s glory. Somehow he manages to deflect the attention from himself.

The sense that something supernatural is in the room is palpable when he is onstage. That is all I can say. Mathias Mhere is firm favourite of many gospel lovers. I am yet to decide conclusively what his X-Factor is.

Take away lesson
Gospel music now has proliferated with many shades from sungura to urban contemporary. Is it the corollary to what’s happening with churches in the charismatic movement?

The conservative element in the church is much chagrined by the trend in the music whose emphasis is on the rhythm and repetitive lyrics.

But herein is the contention about music. European music or hymnology tends to be wordy.

But African music relies more on syncopated beats, intonation and repetition for emphasis. The jury is out on this one. I would advocate the middle ground.

Because we are Africans we need rhythm, but because our culture is not necessarily complete without learning from others, we need those elements that anchor the music on sound doctrine.

One thing for sure
The Joseph Madziyire-led ZimPraise as a concept, is winsome because it carries the entire corpus of Zimbabwean traditional gospel music. The director is incidentally Bulawayo-born and raised young man. Bulawayo confirms itself as the ultimate birthplace of the arts.

The city is the mother or father of artistic institutions such as Black Umfolosi and Iyasa.

What I witnessed on Sunday made me understand that maybe Bulawayo artistes need to look beyond their borders and seize the proverbial day. The entire world is waiting.