SHOWER Power is today a bona fide Zimbabwean legendary musical group. Started 22 years ago by Vernus Khumalo, the celebrated vocal group had Khumalo, Abishai Madhakiwe, Munyaradzi Nyawiri, Nqobile Ncube, Tidings Chaitezvi, Simba Nyawiri, and Brian Ncube in the original line-ups.
Over time, because of work commitments and migration precipitated by the search for greener pastures from the period between 1990s to the late 2000s, the group’s line up also changed.
After the departure of Munyaradzi Nyawiri, Nqobile Ncube, Vernus Khumalo and Simba Nyawiri for the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, Khumalo’s young brother Emmanuel joined the group alongside Mandikudza Sithole (group’s current leader) Thabo Mlotshwa, Jerry Janda, Bright Madhakiwe and Fortress Ndlovu.
The last three have since moved on with Thabo Mlotshwa — a soloist in his own right — currently training to be a pastor at Solusi University.
Incidentally, since he is the son of a retired pastor in the same church, destiny perhaps beckoned for him. The other two Bright Madhakiwe and Fortress Ndlovu remained behind after a US tour only to be replaced by others.
On and on the group has moved with the line-up changing.
Hailing from the Seventh Day Adventist church with its rich choral and vocal tradition, (the same church that spawned United States Grammy award-winning group Take 6), it was natural for Shower Power to form an a cappella ensemble (singing without instrumental backing).
Interestingly, because of the vocal style which borrowed from American do wop traditions of the ’60s and the Motown template of boy bands which in all honesty had their genesis in the American black church groups, the group has had its critics, but such is the nature of the music business.
In the US, some of these vocal groups gave rise to artistes such as Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooks who went on to become legendary secular soul music exponents.
“Secular music is not what we are about, we don’t want to do it,” says Sithole about the group’s focus.
It is ironic then, that for a group that has stayed the gospel music course over such a time, Shower Power has been as much controverted within its own denomination as it has been embraced by members within the same.
“I was personally discouraged at one time and wanted to leave the ministry when one day at an engagement we had I had someone come up to me and say: ‘Elder Sithole, I have been trying to teach my child to sing properly and here you are singing this way!’
He was trying to humiliate me in public. But I just took it in my stride and laughed about it. After that I went to a pastor who encouraged me saying that it’s only a fruit tree which is assailed by stones so do not be discouraged!
He said: ‘All you have to do is check whether what you are doing is Biblical’. I needed this encouragement. I also had a friend who became HIV-positive and was feeling hopeless and suicidal. He got hold of our cassette which had our song I Don’t Wanna Walk Alone which gave him hope to live on and he regained his strength and shared the music with his support group. So such testimonies give us strength and conviction to carry on with our ministry. Interestingly in 2005, while being criticised at the lower level of our church, the highest decision-making authority in our church invited us to sing at the General Conference! We took that as vindication from God about our ministry.
The people who invited us said: ‘We have heard your music, we like how you sing and we want you to minister in the States’!” reminisces Sithole the group’s leader.