Gumbo Jnr follows in father’s footsteps
renowned musician trying to follow in the path of their forebearers without the necessary talent in their veins, his is a different case altogether.
One just needed to be at the album launch by gospel music outfit Firm Faith held at a Harare hotel recently, to testify that the young man is indeed not a fluke.
The guests were lucky to witness Don Jnr live in action together with prominent accappella gospel music group, Shower Power, where he is a member.
The group was one of the guest performers at the launch, and Don Jnr made his father “proud” by keeping his music torch alive.
The 25-year-old singer has been a member of Shower Power since 2006, and sings bass.
“We recorded seven albums together. It was easy for me to join them because they belong to the Seventh Day Adventist Church in which I grew up worshipping,” he said.
As if that was not enough, Don Jnr, who is the third born in a family of five — Doris, Doreen, Dionne, Duduzile and himself — was also one of the founding members of the late Sam Mtukudzi’s AY Band.
Being Sam’s contemporary at Prince Edward High School, their working together was easy because they both belonged to the brass band and music group at the school.
All this was made possible, thanks to the music seed that his late father had sown in him at a tender age.
“I developed a passion for music during my father’s days when he would hold practice sessions with his fellow artistes Andy Brown, Busi Ncube, among others, at home.
“My dad would take time to teach me how to play the guitar even though he was left-handed while I used the right hand.
“This helped me in a very big way because in 1990 I found myself playing the bass guitar at Prince Edward. I later joined the wind section band where I was a trumpeter under the tutelage of Elias Mapiye of the PE music department.
“I was lucky to also learn how to play the lead guitar from renowned guitarist Clive Mono Mukundu who taught our music club at the same school,” Don Jnr said.
The desire to excel in music and fill the vacuum created by his father’s death saw him learning other instruments as part of his Cambridge Ordinary Level music studies.
“This later saw me diversifying into playing various other instruments like the piano and the clarinet. Before long, we had teamed up with Sam Mtukudzi and other fellows to form AY Band.
“Sam was on the acoustic guitar, Victor Chiduku on the drums, Jacob Tofa on the keyboard, Vimbai Mukarati on the saxophone while I played the bass guitar.
“I remember that, despite our youthful age, we took part in a number of high-profile gigs including corporate functions at a number of leading hotels in Harare, as well as at the 2007 Zimbabwe Music Awards where Sam, Tendai Manatsa, Flash Gordon, Cindy Munyavi and myself, played some songs by our fathers,” he said.
The young artiste said this was an eye-opener and a stepping stone for him in that he fully understood the ups and downs that his father went through in his music career.
“It was a great experience to be on stage with other musicians because I was later to play with Andy Brown and Busi Ncube during a show to commemorate the group Ilanga in 2009.”
Don Jnr wistfully recalls the days he spent with his father before death separated them.
“He was a very composed person who got along with people. He was so close to Andy and Busi to the extent that they were quite a big ‘family’.
“He always said that in life people must follow their heart’s desire and put God first in everything they do. So when he eventually passed away in 1998, when I was on my way from a church camp, I was devastated,” he recalls.
Don Jnr said he is currently working on a new project with the assistance of a South African-based Zimbabwean singer and producer by the name Riffi.
“It is an instrumental album and I will also re-do some of mudhara’s (Don Gumbo)’s old songs.
“Zimbabwe has very enthusiastic musicians. The industry is growing but sadly, the majority of the artistes are not living off music. Something needs to be done about piracy,” Don Jnr, who runs his own business, said.
The artiste — who is still single — was born on August 1, 1987 in Harare and attended Alfred Beit Primary School in Mabelreign and Prince Edward High School.
Don Gumbo Snr was a founder-member of Ilanga which comprised musicians like Busi Ncube and the late Andy Brown, among others. They produced a number of hits together.