Sometimes I look at myself as one blessed individual. Coming from Bulawayo and being Zimbabwean teaches you a lot of things about life and how to be a survivor in any space. But despite the different journeys we go through as a people, there is always that one thing that brings a smile on your face and right now for me, it is this duo —Stango and Nongoma.
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The first time I heard their song titled Phez’konke was when I bumped into it on YouTube. The song speaks about that entity that is the guiding force, the force that makes everything possible, including creativity and the ability to touch people’s lives. Phez’konke is a fusion of mbira, guitar and clean vocals in Ndebele which caught my inner being. I hardly get swept away and very few artists who I listen to for the first time can do that to me.
The likes of Emeli Sande, Indigo Saint, Zahara, Lira, The Muffinz, The Soil, Tariro Negitare and now Stango and Nongoma, have managed to make me fall in love with their art at first listen.
What I admire the most about Stango and Nongoma’s sound is that it is original and many artists can learn a lot from them. The inimitable fusion of the spiritual sound of mbira with the strings of a guitar and the blend of majestic voice derived from the Ndebele tradition is one that you surely would like to experience. Their music has a purity and newness that touches the human in a spiritual way.
Their unique backgrounds make them even more admirable and possibly the best thing that has come out of Bulawayo and Zimbabwe. Nongoma herself comes from Filabusi — a Ndebele community in the Matabeleland South region. Just like many artists, she started off singing in church and grew through the desire to experiment with vocals. Afro-jazz influenced her to the extent that she would challenge herself vocally and in the process has managed to mould her own identity in the musical space.
Conversely, Stango grew up in an orphanage in Bulawayo where he taught himself how to play marimba, mbira and some percussion that include the Djembe. He taught himself to play the guitar in an effort to interpret a unique sound that was inside him. On meeting Nongoma, he taught her how to play mbira and they have since grown and learnt together. Their songs and sound is inspired by a spiritual element that is inside all of us as human beings.
I wish most of the music I listen to could bring out this side to me and to anybody. I admire artists that take time to mould their craft, learn about themselves in the process and tell their story which in turn touches lives.
That is the entire beauty about art; when you are legitimate and true to yourself and what makes you, everyone can pick it up and interpret it in their own unique way.
This pair, which is my current favourite sound from Zimbabwe, has music that feels like a connection to something that is beyond the human. Beautiful sounds that form a soothing, yet haunting experience. An experience inspired by a high power.
Gilmore Tee is a well-travelled social entrepreneur, public relations and branding consultant, host, curator and above all, global citizen. He is the host and producer of the weekly #GTeeVibe podcast and also one of the leading fashion facilitators from southern Africa. He can be reached on www.gilmoretee.com or Facebook/Instagram/ Twitter/SnapChat: Gilmore Tee