POPULAR yesteryear gospel musician Noel Zembe, who managed to create a name for himself on the gospel scene with hits like Ndaiwana Hama and Masodzi before he was involved in an accident which almost ended his musical career, has hinted on a comeback. Before becoming a gospel musician, Zembe was a vocalist for the group Frontline Kids whose creation was facilitated by Fred Zindi. NewsDay (ND) Life & Style reporter Freeman Makopa recently caught up with Zembe (NZ). Here are the excerpts from the interview.
ND: At one time you were among the country’s most well-known musicians. Do you feel you still occupy that position?
NZ: Yes, I still do because after my disappearance for several years my loving music followers are celebrating my reappearance with great excitement and great expectations, and I know that my return brings music that will bless, satisfy and soothe their hearts.
ND: What are some of the best memories you have from your time with the Frontline Kids?
NZ: Some of the best memories with the Frontline Kids were; when we would meet our fans who used to scream at us all the time asking for autobiographs, when we used to go around the country performing in big clubs, hotels, stadia and halls side-by-side with big local and international artistes, earning big money, when we toured African countries like Botswana, South Africa and Zambia and when we performed during the 1991 Zimbabwe Independence Day with fellow Zimbabweans abroad.
ND: And what inspired you to transition to gospel music?
NZ: During my time with the Frontline Kids and after, as a versatile artiste, I could do any type of music but my religious background always made me remember where I came from. As I grew up, I used to sing in church with my family, so my transition went smoothly from secular music to beat with a message and finally to gospel because it was like going back to my roots to do what I knew best. And I still believe that’s where my calling is.
ND: When you look at the music industry today, do you feel it has grown? What excites you? What are the regrets?
NZ: Local music industry hasn’t grown that much over the years due to piracy and the poor performance of the economy. A lot of us had been living on CD sales and live shows, but now it‘s no longer viable due to reasons I mentioned above except for a few who have moved with the times and took advantage of the technology and started to market and sell their music on platforms such as YouTube etc.
ND: There is a sentiment that after transitioning to Frontline Kids, you guys could not stand the competition and collapsed. Do you agree with that?
NZ: I regret my slow transition from the old traditional and hard ways of selling CDs by going around with CDs on the streets, to offices and shops when technology has since been at our disposal to help us. I, therefore, regret all opportunities and monies I lost over the years due to ignorance.
ND: Would you say your 2013 accident negatively impacted your music career?
NZ: The accident that occurred in 2013 really had a negative impact on me and my career because it happened when I was just about to record a new album. I broke my ankle so badly such that I had to spend a couple of weeks at a private hospital where my leg underwent a serious operation. This process was so painful and expensive. All my plans were derailed and my hard-earned finances were wiped. Special thanks to my brother Luxon Zembe who quickly came in and helped me clear the huge bill at a Harare private specialist for the bones. After I was discharged, my ability to walk, work, even to go into the studio was badly affected. I could not properly walk due to pain as a result I lost both opportunities and money because I couldn’t perform live shows or walk around selling my music like I used to do. My life changed from good to bad and most of my music followers got confused as to whether I had quit music forever or I was late. I had a very tough musical journey after the accident. My younger brother Farai greatly assisted me alongside my sister Winnie.
ND: So do you have a strategy to help you with your comeback?
NZ: From my fans’ comments, I realise thousands of our fans have been disappointed by my silence and are waiting for my new offering. So I’m about to break the silence with a new album. I have been praying and working so hard behind the scenes, so I believe my new music will have a great impact and will transform a lot of lives. To make my new and old music accessible to both our local and international fans, my music will be sold on CDs and DVDs, online and will be marketed on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram etc. I am now ready to do live shows on local, continental and international platforms. Noel is alive.
ND: Your parting shot?
NZ: My special thanks go to Nash TV for sponsoring the recording I am currently doing at Military Touch Movement.