Over the past years, the most notable event in the thrust to honour fallen music heroes was the Bob Marley commemoration gig that musician Trevor Hall, popularly known as Ras Jabu, religiously pursued annually.
Drum Beat with Godwin Muzari
Ras Jabu engaged different promoters for the commemorations that mainly featured reggae and dancehall musicians. The Jamaica-born musician became known more for the commemorative gig than his personal music adventures.
However, the event slumped in popularity due to a number of organisational glitches and lack of a consistent organising team.
While Ras Jabu had a noble cause to honour his late countryman and legendary reggae musician, local musicians and promoters seemed uninspired by his perennial efforts.
For those many years, it appeared no one took the idea seriously to come up with a local version of a commemorative event for late local musicians.
The few events that were linked to departed musicians were more of marketing gimmicks by promoters than serious celebratory occasions. The late musicians did not get their deserved honour.
Although none of our late music heroes can be equated to Marley’s international influence and historic achievements, many of them left indelible marks of ingenuity locally and even across our boarders.
Their prowess is well-documented while their timeless hits still pose stiff competition to current releases.
Some of them have spawned generations of talented musicians from their families besides inspiring strangers with their well-crafted beats.
There is everything to celebrate about our fallen music heroes. It is for this reason that local music lovers should be joyful at the turn of events over the past year.
Since the Simon Chimbetu [pictured] commemoration gig that was held in Chinhoyi in August last year, the music industry has turned towards celebrating the lives of late great musicians.
Although there was a low keynote System Tazvida commemoration at a small venue in the capital before the Chinhoyi event, it was Chimbetu’s honourary show that made promoters and musicians realise the need to salute their fallen heroes with big events.
In October last year, promoters put together a two-legged Tongai Moyo commemoration event in Kwekwe and Harare.
Last month Allan, Sulumani, Tryson and Douglas Chimbetu led the “Dr Nero Commemoration” show that was held at Andy Millar Hall to honour Naison Chimbetu and brought together other musicians like Alick Macheso, Peter Moyo and Munya Mataruse.
On Wednesday the showbiz scene came alive with the Leonard Dembo commemoration event that was held in the capital.
The commemorations are slowly taking shape and it is touching to note how music fans are supporting these events. It shows that there was a yawning gap that went unattended for a longtime.
Commemorations were the missing link between young musicians, their predecessors and the fans.
It took the Dembo commemoration for many of the late musician’s fans to realise the potential that his sons, Morgan and Tendai have in the industry.
Their previous shows at the same venue had not attracted such a huge crowd. The event linked the youngsters to their father’s fans in a special way. The memories that such events evoke give the late musicians’ successors practical realisation of the workload before them and inspire them to work harder.
While the previous commemorations have mainly involved late musicians’ children that are pursuing the art, this wave should also ripple to celebrate the lives of great icons that might not have immediate successors in the industry.
Every great musician has to be honoured. It was because of these talented instrumentalists and wordsmiths that the industry is in its shape today.