New York record label releases street musician Gonora’s album

Daniel Gonora


GIFTED visually-impaired street musician-cum-guitarist Daniel Gonora and his band had their first international production titled Hard Times Never Kill released last week (Friday) courtesy of New York-based independent label, The Vital Record.

The nine-track album resulted in Gonora and sons becoming the subject of an award-winning short documentary You Can’t Hide from the Truth by local filmmaker A.a.V Amasi.

After successful runs at film festivals worldwide, Gonora’s unique music and message got the attention of New York-based independent label, The Vital Record, who travelled to Zimbabwe to record their first international release.

The album that showcases Gonora’s full breadth as a guitarist, vocalist, composer and songwriter is about survival and beating the odds, straight from the streets of Harare. It will be available on vinyl and all digital formats.

It features controversial Netherlands-based Zimbabwean songstress Vimbai Zimuto on the track MaZimbabwean and popular choral gospel group, Vabati Vajehova on the song Kuna Mambo.

Gonora is no ordinary busker, he is seasoned pro, who was a member of one of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated groups, the Jairos Jiri Band.

Gonora Sounds take on the sungura style which is somewhat more rugged than most. Isaac’s drumming is a downpour of rolls and patters, while his father’s guitar drips cascades of fireflies.

Shimmering electric guitars, bounding bass, tight harmonies… all give his latest album a light, carefree, and joyous feel.

Between drums, vocals and guitars, it is the song Kusaziva Kufa a syncopated marvel that shifts to an even higher gear halfway

The first song Mukoma Shadrek, features Gonora’s famous street setup — people will be astounded by how big and rich the sound gets with just two voices, a jerry-rigged guitar amp and a DIY drum kit.

Kusaziva Kufa, is one of the album’s full band sungura tracks. Some of the country’s best sungura musicians were assembled for this song: Malizani Mbewe on bass, Nelson “Mr Longman” Mutanda on lead guitar and his son Isaac on studio drums.

The tracks were produced by Zimbabwe music luminary and sungura pioneer, Bothwell Nyamhondera whose producing credits include the late Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo and Aleck Macheso.

Tuku protégé and rising star, Zimuto, contributes her vocals on the track, MaZimbabwean, about the Zimbabwean diaspora, from which the album gets its title, Hard Times Never Kill, but it pushes you where you don’t want to go.

The album Hard Times Never Kill is an honest portrait of contemporary life in Zimbabwe, which is more difficult than most people could possibly imagine.

Nevertheless, the album also documents the grace, strength, and optimism that — somehow — glows in Zimbabweans against all odds.

Songs on the album are Go Bhora, Muchange Muripiko, Mukoma Shadrek, Madhiri, Wapinda Mazviri, MaZimbabwean, Kusaziva Kufa, Ndasuruvara Senjiva and Kuna Mambo.

Their songs such as Madhiri, Muchange Muripiko, Kusaziva Kufa and Mukoma Shadrek have been played on BBC radio and they have also featured on the New York Times playlist.

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