All that jazz: The groove with Chuman

A true connoisseur of smooth jazz and fantastic easy laid-back music, radio presenter and DJ Witness Matema (The Chuman) is one of Zimbabwe’s finest entertainment and jazz personalities.

His radio programme on Power FM, the Sunday Soul Session ushers in a feel good factor that is so real one can almost reach out and touch it.

“The idea is to present music that talks to your heart, to cool off a weekend that may have been hectic, bring a balance and relaxation that leaves one looking forward to a brand-new week,” said Matema in an interview recently.

On radio, the club circuit and at private functions, the man always brings out the best from his wide collection of jazz, blues, soul, Afro-jazz and laid-back smooth R&B. One can relax and at moments reminisce to music from artists like Barry White, Anita Baker, Simply Red, Lou Rawls, Ronny Jordan, George Benson, Joe Sample, Chris Brown, Jazz Invitation and many more.

Matema is the son of renowned Zimbabwean record producer Chris Matema. The senior Matema put a lot of years into Zimbabwe’s music industry working for major record companies including Gallo Record Company, Teal, Gramma and ZMC.

“There was always lots of great jazz at home. My father would bring the latest releases of the time and this sparked my passion for the genre. My father’s collection included wonderful music from the likes of Abba, The Eagles, Jordan Chataika and Chicago. I was immersed in the music,” he said.

Growing up ‘Chuman’ exhibited an exceptional talent in dance, winning a lot of school competitions back in the days. A strong influence also came from Radio 3 (now Power FM).

He was inspired by the great presenters including the iconic John Matinde, Hilton Mambo, Josh Makawa, Admire Taderera, Musi Khumalo, Innocent Manase and Nora Chipaumire (The Fly Girl).

At a young age of 18, Matema broke onto the scene when he landed a contract to play jazz at Solo’s Garden. With his father’s wide collection and astute music selection, his show at the joint became a popular Sunday hang-out for many jazz fans.
At this time Matema met a lot of people in the jazz fraternity including the legendary Chris Chabuka, Friday Mbirimi, Simangaliso Tutani and Paul Lunga.
He was then given an opportunity by Peter Mubi, the grandmaster in the club business, to play alongside Hilton Mambo at Circus Night Club in Harare’s Strathaven suburb.

“Working with Mudhara Hilton was a fantastic experience. I learnt a lot from him at a young age and also shared some notes with Comfort Mbofana in those days,” said Matema.

Witness hit the airwaves in 1996 when he excelled at an audition for Radio 3 and was selected top of the group that included Bridget Gavanga and Davis Mugadza.

Rubbing shoulders with the greats was very exciting for the young DJ; he met and worked with Musi Khumalo, Taderera and Kudzi Marudza. He has since partnered Marudza in Huggies Entertainment, an entertainment and brand promotion outfit that focuses on old school music.

Matema has big plans for Zimbabwe’s music and entertainment industry. Having worked at Country Boy Records as a producer; signing on brilliant artists who made it big at the time including Dino Mudondo, Noel Zembe, MC Villa, Major E, Booker T and Newman Chipeni, Matema said the time was now right and he was fully equipped to venture into the record production business.

Matema is married to Rumbidzai and they have three lovely daughters. He would like to see Zimbabwean music grow through the support from families, communities and the corporate sector.

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