Known for her touching and inspirational songs, gospel songstress Janet Manyowa, says if she was not a musician she would have stuck to her accounting and auditing profession, which she is still involved in as a day job apart from being busy with the microphone.
Undoubtedly, Manyowa is one of Zimbabwe’s respected gospel musicians known for her uplifting and gospel hits such as “Zadzisa”, “Nyasha Nengoni”, “Ndomutenda Nei” and “Ndomira Pamuri” among others.
The bubbly and humble singer has been in the music industry for close to six years and The Herald on Saturday Lifestyle caught up with her for a chat.
Manyowa said she was inspired to sing by her parents but never thought she could excel in her career.
“My inspiration to sing was derived from my parents who took me to music school at a very tender age. I had always sung in church and school. I later met my husband Munyaradzi Manyowa who then encouraged and convinced me to be a recording artiste,” she said. “I can say that he was definitely led by God. We got married in 2011, January, at Borrowdale Brooke Golf Club. In fact, ours was a fairy-tale love story as we first met at church. The rest is history,” she said.
Together, they have three children, Matipa, Waishe and Mufaro. She remembers her childhood being absolutely saturated with local and international gospel music.
“Whether it was Shingisai Suluma, The Charambas, Rebecca Malope, Sipho Makhabane and hymnal songs from various churches, in fact these were the soundtracks to my childhood. I specifically remember singing along to every lyric in song after song that played on our local radio stations.
“I can safely say my role model is Mai Suluma as I always admired the way she carried herself with humility and her prowess in song writing. It was a dream come true not only sharing the stage with her but collaborating with her on ‘Muchengeti’ song,” she said.
Having three young children, Manyowa said that she has come to really appreciate the ease with which even a child can memorize a song.
Again performing at various stages, different countries on tour, has made Manyowa to quickly to have a skill of adapting to environment and trying to remain the same.
To some she is a role model, teacher, accountant, preacher through music, but she says her biggest profession that she cherishes and respects in life is being a mother.
Does she sing for her family and with our culture how well does she balance the two — Christianity and some cultural aspects?
“Many things I am otherwise, but music is just by passion but I am a full time mother. I am a very hands-on mum so as much as I can want to be involved in the welfare of my children from bathing them to tucking them in, I create time to clean special elements of my home and I cook quite often. I am still the mother they knew before they were born and to my relatives I am still the aunt, sister, mother they grew up with. No diva moments whatsoever either at home or on stage. I respect my culture and values,” she said.
The musician who always loves to spot a half bob shave hairstyle said she is also chump for food. “I love food! So I eat almost everything as long as it is well cooked. I generally love fish. I think it’s healthy and tasty. My favourite drink is Crème Soda though I have it once in a while, on a healthy tip I love freshly squeezed orange.
Manyowa who describes herself as a simple God-loving individual seeking to live life to the fullest, said time management and planning makes her schedule of the day to move well.
“Most times I have to manage my tasks so that they don’t take too long, so efficiency is key. Besides catching up with important people in my life and on social media I limit my time there. With family, work, music and my faith all needing my attention and only 24 hours in a day, it gets hectic and I have learnt to prioritise and make the most of what I have,” she said.
Asked about her greatest and worst moments in her music career, Manyowa said: “They are quite plenty, particularly in the music fraternity. ‘Grateful’ album launch was a huge highlight for me but I always treasure the days I held all my babies for the first time in my hands. My worst and embarrassing moment was the day I forgot my lyrics at an event. It’s a learning curve.”
Manyowa said she writes her songs together with her husband. “I have been privileged to co-write the song, ‘Muri Mwari’, with my husband. The rest I have written and they generally come from a place of prayer and meditation. I have written quite a lot and I am soon going to be passing some of them to other musicians. I record my music with renowned producer Andrew Baird at Orangotang Studios in South Africa,” she said.
Manyowa said she likes going to the gym, pray, meditate and doesn’t miss a school-run apart from being busy in the studio. Her favourite room at home is her studio and given a chance in the music world, she wishes to change the perceptions around piracy.