FOR Sithabile Mahubaba, growing up in a family of church singers was a huge influence in her decision to take up music.
“I come from a generation of choristers. Most of my uncles were vabvuwi (men’s fellowship singers) with the United Methodist Church and while for them it ended there, I felt I had to take it up and go for recording.”
It was, however, not an easy journey for the mbira player and vocalist.
“After school in 2007, when I told my parents that I was to take up musicology at university, there was some resistance as they felt it was not the right field for me.”
She soldiered on, making a good first impression by becoming lead singer with the university’s band in the second year at college.
“I started off as a backing vocalist and when the lead vocalist left, I was selected to lead the vocals and this was a great achievement for me.”
Another break was to come when she recorded a demo with the late maestro Andy Brown.
But despite this early success, challenges continued to hound her as a separate band she started in 2009 had most of its members based a Gweru at a time when she had moved to Harare.
“We could not get together often so it was mostly an on and off thing and this disturbed our rehearsals and performances and at times I ended up doing solo shows.”
Ironically, it is the same year, 2009, that S’tha recorded some fundamental successes.
Her band was awarded a contract to perform at the now-defunct Taste of Afrika restaurant and as they were runners-up in the Midlands Music Crossroads competition under the banner of Inkabakwe Rukuvhute Arts.
Her biggest achievement was to come in 2014 when she recorded a single titled Nyarara.
The song has a positive message of hope and gives motivation for a child in whatever situation with assurance that things would be alright.
“This was an opportunity for me to discover who S’tha is, a musical ambassador of children,” she said.
Nyarara, which was launched at Chiedza Child Care Centre in Harare with over 100 children and United States scholarship beneficiaries joined by representatives from organisations like Unicef, US Public Affairs, LET THEM Trust, Population Services International Zimbabwe, Best Communities Micro-sure Trust, Pawn Engineering, EDZAI ISU Theatre Arts Project among others.
From then on, S’tha performed at fashion house Uzuri Creations’ first anniversary where she did a collaboration with award-winning actor, writer and director Tafadzwa Muzondo.
The single was also used in an HIV and Aids at the workplace short film Hanya Nani? 1.
The Afro-jazz song, which carries not just a deep message, but also has great instrumentation, could be the path to the musical future that S’tha is seeking.