Fred Zindi Music Column
On March 16, 1991, one of Zimbabwe’s talented artistes and fast-rising music star was born. She was christened Pamhidzai Tracy Mbirimi. Yes, the Mbirimis are all musical. From Friday, Lovejoy, Beaulah, Taka, B, to Clancy, and Pamhidzayi is related to all of them.
On asking her how she coined the name Pah Chihera, she replied: “It was simple, Pah is short-cut for Pamhidzayi and Chihera is my totem. The use of totems is in itself a sign of respect and pride in one’s identity.”
It wasn’t until 2014 that Pah Chihera’s reign in the music world was cemented. Although her career only started with her debut album, “Runonzi Rudo”, within two years and at only 23 years of age, he career has already blossomed to dizzy heights. Many older musicians have struggled for 20 or more years to make a mark on the music map. Pah Chihera’s soulful music has a unique freshness makes her stand out as a natural singer.
Pah Chihera attended Zuva Rabuda Primary School in Glen Norah before moving to Mufakose High 3 where she did her secondary schooling. She then enrolled with ZDECO College for a reception management course and then Herentials College where she received a diploma in hotel and catering management.
Pah Chihera’s musical gift became apparent at an early age. Her powerful voice was discovered at five years old, before she even started school. By the time she went to primary school, she was already known as that girl with a beautiful voice.
Pah Chihera’s journey as a professional singer began when she did backing vocals for her uncle Kudakwashe Prince Musarurwa (I forgot to ask her if he is related to the famous August Musarurwa of the “Skokiaan” fame), in the Afro Royal Chamberlains Band. Her uncle also features in most of the tracks on Pah Chihera’s “Runonzi Rudo” album.
I asked Pah Chihera how she had catapulted herself to the level she is at right now within such a short time.
“It is a question of who you know in the music industry. I am lucky to have started working with an uncle who was already in the business with three albums to his credit, which are ‘Kurarama’, ‘Gara Muberevere’ and ‘Gogodera’.
After my uncle decided to wean me off and left me to go solo, I started my own net working. You see, I have a sister in Dubai and as soon as she heard I had recorded an album, she started making arrangements with people at Majestic Hotel, Dubai for me to perform there. In no time, the band and I travelled there and we gave a fantastic performance. The gig was attended by Arabs, Kenyans, Nigerians and of course, Zimbabweans as we belted songs from the album ‘Runonzi Rudo’ which my sister had done the donkey work to make sure everybody knew about it. This trip also gave me the opportunity to see my sister, whom I had not seen for a while.
“Now in a similar fashion, we have another pending trip to the UK. We are just waiting for the visas to come out. I have an international manager, known as Charlie who has arranged everything.
“When I arrive in the UK, I am going to receive the ZIWA (Zimbabwe Women Artistes) Award which I won last month in absentia for my effort in ‘Runonzi Rudo’. I would like to say I’m really humbled with the warm responses I’m getting since releasing my album. Zimbabweans are really supportive and I’m very grateful. I am not sure how many CDs of the album I have sold now, but Slimaz Productions are handling everything on my behalf.”
I went on the streets asking people what they thought about Pah Chihera’s music.
Geoffrey Masuta, a self-employed car mechanic, described her music as follows, “Oh, she is a breath of fresh air. If we continue to have female musicians of this calibre in this country, Zimbabwe will soon conquer the whole world!”
Miss Memo Onai Chi Chi Magadzire who seemed very excited when I asked her the question, had this to say: “I am actually related to Pah Chihera. She is my sister. Her mother and my mother are sisters and I think she is an excellent singer. When I first heard that she was going to be a singer in a band, I thought she was just playing. It’s stunning and for a woman her age to write such songs on her album, the meaning and the way she expresses and portrays our community as a whole and our culture, I like it. On the song called ‘Vana Vangu’, the last one on the CD, she really nailed it.”
Another comment came from school girl, Tapiwa Manuhwa who said, “I have never seen her perform live, but going by her classic video of ‘Runonzi Rudo’, she has become one of my favourite artistes. I am going to make sure that I will attend one of her gigs soon!”
Hector Mafaro Mugani, a manager at the Book Café, simply says, “She is not only amazing. She is sensational!”
Pah Chihera herself says that she is greatly inspired by the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi within Zimbabwe and Zahara from outside Zimbabwe. She acknowledges that she is helped by her uncle, Prince Musarurwa to write some of her songs.
“My uncle Prince Musarurwa has also written some of my songs and together, we are a great team,” she says.
Last Thursday, she performed live at a new venue known as Dandaro Inn during the on-going Winter Jazz Festival in Harare. She sent the crowd wild with her stage performance and left them asking for more.
On being asked about her video which seems to have mesmerised quite a few people, she responded, “It’s my first ever video. We had a small budget but I’m pleased with what we came up with. As they say, the first cut is the deepest and I’ve a feeling it will be my greatest, though there’s a lot more in my tank to do better.
“The video was shot in Harare Gardens. There’s a myth that the park is where all the romance begins, so we decided to shoot it in the park. ‘Runonzi Rudo’ is about the story of a girl and a boy who meet in the park and both happen to be listening to the same song through their earphones. Mesmerised by the song, they both fall into a trance, seeing themselves in love and having fun.
“The boy, to his great disappointment, later comes to his senses and realises it was all a daydream, to the embarrassment of the girl. Thumbs up to Slimaz Production the brains behind the choreography for a job well done!”
This girl is not only a singer but also a strategist. She says that on her return from the UK, she is going to embark on charity concerts where she will perform at children’s homes throughout the country for free.
Given the way she has carried herself so far, we all hope that Pamhidzayi, who is currently working on her second yet-to-be-named album, will soon become a household name and the first female Zimbabwean artiste to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We also hope that she will win a Grammy award soon.
Wait and see!
Feedback: [email protected]