Nation mourns jazz crooner Mbirimi



LOCAL arts motherbody, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) has joined the nation in mourning the passing on of veteran jazz crooner Friday Mbirimi (78) in Harare on Tuesday.

Mbirimi was part of the legendary Afro-jazz group, the Mbare Trio.

His younger brother Clancy yesterday confirmed that Mbirimi succumbed to colon cancer.

“He succumbed to colon cancer after he developed complications. Burial arrangements will be announced in due course as we are sorting out his death papers,” he said.

In a condolence message, NACZ director Nicholas Moyo said Mbirimi’s wisdom would be missed by those who worked with him as well as jazz lovers.

“National Arts Council of Zimbabwe would like to pass its deepest condolences to the Mbirimi family and the entire music fraternity following the sad loss of the seasoned educationist, songwriter, singer and band leader,” Moyo said.

“The death of Friday has robbed the nation of a well-loved musician who entertained the country for decades and performed alongside hundreds of local and international musicians.”

Moyo said as an educationist, Mbirimi played a huge role in developing new musical talent as a lecturer at the Zimbabwe College of Music between 2004 and 2007 after having been the first substantive headmaster of Epworth High School which was commissioned in 1981.

“Mbirimi started his singing career performing in schools in Harare with the likes of the late Simangaliso Tutani and other jazz musicians in the 1960s. With colleagues, Mbirimi formed their first band the Shelton Brothers which delivered hearty home-styled Zimbabwean jazz music,” he said.

“His illustrious career spanned decades in the local jazz circles and he was a member of various groups including the famous Harare Mambo band which had the likes of Elisha Josam, Clancy Mbirimi, Newman Chipeni, Newton Kanengoni, William Kashiri, Tanga wekwa Sando (Ernest Sando), Paul and Virginia Silla.”

With his brother Lovejoy Mbirimi (late) and William Kashiri, they formed Mbare Trio which produced such hits as Uru Rufaro and KwaMutare.

Mbirimi was also a session artiste for many musicians such as Summer Breeze, a local outfit, Faonri Sumaili lead guitarist, Vincent Kapepa on bass and Moses Kabubi on keyboards.

Several artistes took to social media to express their condolences following the untimely demise of Mbirimi.

Award-winning Afro-jazz musician Bob Nyabinde said: “Sad to hear of the passing on of yet another legend, the great Friday Mbirimi. The local music fraternity is poorer today.”

Radio personality Comfort Mbofana said: “I would sometimes drive Friday Mbirimi home from jazz clubs or festivals. As he jumped out on arrival at his Prospect home, I would shout ‘see you later, Sunday! He would perfunctorily laugh at this not-so-ingenious joke.”

“He was great friends with the late Oliver Mtukudzi and one night at Jazz 105 (he had just gotten off the stage with his band Mbare Trio) heard them joking with one another behind me about what day of the week it was. It was a Sunday. We have lost another one. RIP.”

The jazz crooner is survived by five children, and mourners are gathered at number 131 Montgomerty Drive in Prospect, Waterfalls, Harare.

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