SNEAK PEEK: CHELSEA USAFARE
EXCITING praise and worship music outfit, Joyfull Praise Choir (JPC) which recently rose to fame with their hit song Ngoro Yeminana was recently nominated for an African award at the Maranatha Africa Continental Awards. Band spokesperson Rudo Tania Madhindi said the move was motivated by their endeavour to be effective preachers through music. NewsDay (ND) Life & Style reporter Chelsea Musafare caught up with Madhindi (RM), who gave insights into the choir among other issues.
ND: What inspired you to set up this choir?
RM: This is a vision given by God to (group founder) Gamaliel Blessing Madhindi. He is a person with music at heart. He is passionate about it and he breathes and eats music. He has been seeing most gifted people around, mostly in Gweru and he realised that these people have been failing to exhibit the talent they have because they do not have a platform to showcase it. He then decided to start an association that would help people bring out their gifts, be it dancing, comedy, singing, writing songs or playing instruments.
ND: Mass choirs have become a popular concept in Zimbabwe. What distinguishes yours from other choirs?
RM: We are proud of our sound as it is unique from any other choir that has ever existed. Our sound gives us a definition as we reveal a joyful character, tone and feeling. Secondly, we can fuse two genres in one song, for example Ngoro Yeminana; it was a reggae song and we put in a fusion of dancehall. Ehekaka is a version of jazz and traditional, we can do rhumba and fix it with kanindo. We can do any kind of genre in our songs and there is no other choir which does that, hence it is different.
ND: What do you intend to achieve as a choir?
RM: We hope to build legacies and unlock destinies. In JPC we have solo artistes, people that we are grooming and branding so we are aiming to build them and expand them from the circles of being in a choir. It is an association that trains musicians how to handle themselves as solo artistes. Some people even come not to join the choir but to get information and tutorials as solo artistes. As a Zimbabwean group, we want to put our country on the international map as gospel musicians. We want to impact people globally, make people know that there are Zimbabwean musicians that are good and convey the message of Christ through gospel music. We aim to bring souls to Christ through gospel music.
ND: You have been nominated for the Best Live Ministration award at the Maranatha Africa Continental Awards. How do you feel about this nomination? What does it mean to you?
RM: This came as a surprise. It was an overwhelming experience because we did not think we would be recognised at that level yet. It is something that is telling us that God is taking us somewhere. He is doing beyond our expectations. This is also pushing us to do more.
ND: How does one qualify to be a member? What are the processes they go through?
RM: We recruit through auditions and one’s ability and availability qualifies them to the choir.
ND: Do you offer additional refresher courses or training for members already in the group, or their individual talents are sufficient?
RM: There is additional training for all members. We do not only have musicians in the association, but all artistes who possess different gifts. Therefore, there is personal development that we do, musical, vocal, how you speak to your audience as an MC, how to tackle and present an amazing comedy show etc.
ND: You have featured other top gospel artistes including Takesure Zamar Ncube. How has this helped to add value to your brand?
RM: Value has been added by the collaborations we have done which includes variety in genres, different feel of play, relationships and good connections too.
ND: Ngoro Yeminana seems to be your most popular track. Do you feel the same? What inspired it?
RM: The hit song Ngoro Yeminana was inspired by the love for Zig Zag band that our executive president had. When the lyrics were written for the song to be recorded, it was all for the fact that we want to bring the old people who have listened to the band. The fusion of reggae and dancehall was then used as bait to get the youth. So we hit two birds with one stone.
ND: There have been reports in some big mass choirs that sometimes members have to offer the leader certain favours to get slots to sing. Have you encountered such problems? How have you dealt with them?
RM: In JPC, your ability gets you to the top. You can be new today but surpass the one who has been in the group since 2014. The only favour one can give to our executive president is being committed to the group music and your gift. That being said, there has never been anything outside of ability that has taken members to the level of lead singing.
ND: You were voted the Best Newcomer at last year’s PERMICAN awards, how did you feel about the win?
RM: Winning PERMICAN was one surprising gift we got from God. Those were the first awards we got and we scooped four of them by the grace of God. We believe it opened doors for more.
ND: One of the distinguishing features of the group is its army fatigue, what inspired that choice?
RM: We are soldiers in the army of God, hence the army green uniform. However it is not our complete identity. We vary in uniforms due to the theme we have and the feel of the songs we have. We wear the unique and unusual.