Vocal Extra-ordinaire (Vocal Ex), an inter-denominational grouping of gospel musicians draw from the Bulawayo Christian community, is literally taking the local gospel scene by storm, thanks to the group’s scintillating if not dazzling performances and harmonious songs while on stage.
Last Saturday the 24 -member group, founded in July 2013 and the brain child of Thembelani Mdlaziba, Eric Moyo and Mkhululi Bhebhe, held a highly successful concert at Bulawayo’s Large City dubbed Sithi Uyigcwele, which literally translated means God, you are holy.
The show, attended by about 1 000 gospel music enthusiasts, was recorded live while Vocal Ex was on stage doing what they know best.
Vocal Ex founders — Madlaziba, Moyo and Bhebhe – apparently used to sing together at church during their high school days before deciding to form a fully-fledged religious musical group with an equally extraordinary name – Vocal Extraordinairé.
From their different music experiences they were inspired to start the group, ostensibly after realising that Bulawayo “has a lot of talent and most of it is exported or nothing is done about it.”
Due to the groups professional acts while on stage, some avid followers of gospel music have no qualms in drawing comparisons between the Bulawayo gospel group with the Harare-based Zim Praise or South Africa’s world famous Joyous Celebrations.
“The name Vocal Extraordinaire means as a team we are more than just a group with vocal prowess, but our voices carry God’s message about love, peace, unity, hope, and salvation,” explained Mdlaziba, one of Vocal Ex founders and official spokesman.
“We consulted with our pastor who is now based in England, Pastor Victor Adams to pray over a name we could use to represent our calling, that’s how we came to be,” he added in an exclusive interview with Southern Eye Lifestyle on Wednesday. He teamed up with Moyo and Bhebhe, who are also directors of the group, to spread the word of God through music.
When choosing members to join the group, Mdlaziba says, founders did not only look for musical talent, but also individuals that were grounded and had a good character to be entrusted as Vocal Ex singers or artistes.
The group, which continues to draw large crowds to its concerts and other Christian performances, sings in all languages. “Our tongues can master,” Mdlaziba said.
“We celebrate our different cultural backgrounds in a godly way. God made us different and we celebrate that diversity musically. We are inspired by the word of God to write our own songs such as the songs Mupfudziwangu and Ndinowuya.”
Coincidentally two of the founder members Mdlaziba and Bhebhe have had contact or still have contact with Joyous Celebrations.
Mdlaziba has worked with former Joyous Celebrations musician Avis Dlamini after moving to South Africa where he got the opportunity to learn more about the professional gospel scene while Bhebhe is on the books of Joyous Celebration as one of the lead singers.
Joining Joyous Celebrations has seen Bhebhe crisis-cross the world as soloist, singing gospel tunes as part of the grand plan to spread the Word across all continents.
Moyo, another founder of the group, is well-known for his singing prowess, including doing renditions of famous international gospel stars. He won the MNet East and Southern Africa Idols contest in July 2008 in which he signed a recording deal with Sony BMG.
He also emerged as a winner in the 2009 East and Southern Africa Idols completion. He was a runner-up in the 2008 CBZ Zimbabwe Academy.
Vocal Ex hosted a debut concert on October 4 last year at Word of Life church in Bulawayo before holding another concert on December 23 this year.
As an appreciation of their music talent Vocal Ex was invited by the Zimbabwe National Arts Council to open the proceedings at the 2014 musical awards held in Bulawayo.
They have also performed at a Zimpraise concert hosted by Word of Life Church which featured the likes of Takesure Ncube and the Worship Addicts, Mathius Mhere and Pastor G.
“Within a space of a year God has really elevated us and taken us to places beyond our imagination. In five years’ time it can only get better,” Mdlaziba, said.
“We take one day at a time prayerfully asking for guidance. We want to lead by example and affect the world for Christ.
“It’s hard to say what is next after the Sithi Uyingwele DVD recording, but with the growth of the Vocal Ex brand, opportunities will come and doors will open.”