Whenever he performs, people request for encores. His voice is powerful and you feel his emotions. Sam Dondo is one of the country’s rising contemporary musicians.
By Moses Mugugunyeki
At 30, Dondo, who releases his debut album Zviuya in April, has proved to be talented beyond his age and sings for the love of music, not for fame.
“I have a passion for music. It’s something that I enjoyed when I was growing up,” he said. “I started singing in church and was very active during praise worship.”
Dondo is backed by an equally talented group — Impala Subway Crooners — who include Munya Vialy who plays the keyboard, Freedom Manatsa (drums), Linthens Musoni (bass guitar), Tatenda Viaya (acoustic) and Trust Samende (lead guitar). Former Third Generation backing vocalists Jane “Generator” Chakanetsa, Dorcas Kambarami and Beatrice Matewere are the backing vocalists.
“I have helped Sam to organise this group and we are doing practice sessions four days a week, that is from Monday to Thursday,” said Munya Vialy.
Vialy, who has produced songs for some of the country’s best artists like Jah Prayzah and Sulumani Chimbetu, believes the sky is the limit for Dondo.
“He is such a talented musician. Normally I don’t just pick anyone from the streets to work along with. In Sam, I saw the future and great talent,” Vialy said.
Dondo heaped praises on Vialy whom he described as a friend, mentor and brother.
“We first met in Botswana and we have been reunited after seven years. He is a brother and teacher. I have learnt a lot from him since the time we started working together on this project,” said Dondo.
Zviuya is a 12-track album which includes two singles that feature Jah Prayzah and Sulumani Chimbetu. All the tracks were written by Dondo and have great lyrics that are inspiring.
The album is a potpourri of danceable songs overlaid with powerful vocals, buoyant lyricism and a tasty sprinkling of Zimbabwean beats.
“My messages have a social bearing which are inspired by my brief stint with a UK-based humanitarian organisation [International Reading Association] which I worked for during my stay in Botswana,” Dondo said.
“We went to Tanzania and Zambia and I saw the face of poverty. I have seen how families struggle to raise children and this is what I am singing about but with reference to Zimbabwe.”
The title track Zviuya is a collaboration which he did with Jah Prayzah while the track Kukanganwa Nhamo features Dendera ace Sulumani Chimbetu.
“We have performed with both Sulu and Jah Prayzah at separate shows and people appreciated our music. They have been requesting encores which clearly shows that they like our music,” said Vialy.
Other tracks to look forward to on the new project include Nhamo Ndaramba, Bvunze Moto, Peka Uyende, Dyara Kunamata and Makwidza.
Harare businessman Thompson Dondo who manages the group believes the Impala Subway Crooners are Zimbabwe’s next big thing.
“Sam is a talented and hardworking young man. He has what it takes to be among the country’s crème de la crème,” Thompson said.
“We want to run this group as a company and we want to make it a brand in Zimbabwean music industry. We will establish structures in the group and work together for a common cause, which is success.”
Impala Subway Crooners have been performing before a full house and Vialy believes it’s high time they become a resident band at one of the clubs in Harare.
“We will continue holding shows, but we want to find a place where we perform once a week, say Tuesday. This will also be part of our practice,” said Vialy.
Meanwhile, Dondo is set to launch his debut album, Zviuya at 7Arts Theatre where he will be supported by music gurus — Oliver Mtukudzi and Alick Macheso.
Jah Prayzah, Sulumani Chimbetu and Lady “Eriza” Storm are also part of the line-up at this unique event slated for April 16.
“We are working on the logistics, but we have covered a lot of ground. The album launch will be unique and different from other album launches,” said Thompson.
“We are engaging the corporate world and a number are willing to take part.”