Today I feature one of the greatest contemporary church choirs to emerge in post-independent Zimbabwe — the multi-award winning United Family International Church (Ufic) Choir).
By The Master
The ministry began in 2008 sprouting from an interdenominational ministry that became a fully-fledged church, which like its choir is growing from strength to strength.
Riding on its phenomenal success on the local music scene, the Ufic Choir under the newly-established Family Music Incorporated record label, is now eyeing international markets, said its leader Pastor Hubert Chigumira, popularly known as Psalmist Hubert C in the music circles Chigumba has successfully led the choir since its inception.
The Ufic Choir has recorded 10 albums, including its latest titled In The Sanctuary, which was recorded live at the Life Haven Sanctuary, a prayer and retreat centre set up by the church founder and leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and wife Prophetess Ruth Makandiwa.
In The Sanctuary was recorded at the group’s prayer retreat at Life Haven Sanctuary and the album comes with a DVD.
Chigumira was quick to attribute the choir’s achievements to the spiritually-inspired leadership of, Prophet Makandiwa and his wife. The Ufic Choir has drawn inspiration from the divine teachings and guidance of the Makandiwas, who have also been its greatest financial partners.
He said they were now a commercial entity following pressure from thousands of their fans locally and abroad who are finding it difficult to access their productions, as they had kept their music within Ufic circles.
“We decided to go commercial when we did our last project in March last year. We had recorded it in 2016 and released it on March 9 last year. that is when we also launched our commercial brand,” said Chigumira.
“We have been keeping our music in-house and people have been asking where they can get the music.Most of our productions were geared towards pushing material for our TV station Christ TV.
“You now can find our music on online stores like iTunes and Amazon, among others. You can also engage our local online distributors like Oyos Music and zimonline stores.”
He said they have opened doors to local markets and the airwaves.
“Most of our local DJs were shocked to hear that we have 10 projects, In The Sanctuary is the 10th, yet they did not have anything,” said Chigumira.
With over 30 talented recording artists, Family Music Incorporated musicians include Worshipper Larry Gunda, Minister Michael Mahendere, Tapiwa Masatara, Linia Utete, Psalmist Hubert C, Tinashe Magacha and Fiona Chinembiri, among others.
“Our mentor is Bishop Leornard Zhakata. We have formulated a music association in our church where we share ideas to bring the best out of us,” he said.
“Our thrust is to push the music, not only locally, but to the ends of the earth, Taking Christ to the Nations, that is our message.”
The artists begin the careers at grass roots, in Ufic local assemblies which are led by resident pastors, said Chigumira.
“When one joins our choir they join from grassroots, then we will call them to our central team which at the moment comprises 550 members. That’s only the Harare team and among those we have a band complement of 30 band members,” he said.
“When we do our national and international conferences, we rope in our assemblies because we operate on a centralised format whereby everything we do as branches are monitored from headquarters. This includes uniforms to be worn and new songs that need to be done.
“Once we come together for conferences, we normally reach to around 800 to 1 000 members, including our South Africa-based teams. We have three teams in Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria. In Zimbabwe, we have more than 78 assemblies. We communicate effectively on weekly basis with our members”.
Chigumira said they have lined up live recordings, as well as international collaborations for this year.
“Our last offering was last year so expect something coming out this year for the local market in as much as we are releasing something for the international market around March or April and locally around May,” he said.
He promised another recording by the choir around October, which will be released in 2019.
“We will also be releasing special ladies projects under the Victorious Ladies Projects and something specifically for the youths, contemporary or Zimdancehall. We have all of them in our stable,” said Chigumira.
“So far, we are working on the project In the Sanctuary Volume 2, which we did at the Chitungwiza basilica. Our aim on this production is to take the project to the international market.
Chigumira said the major highlights in his musical career was being given the chance to lead the Ufic Choir having been musical director for Afro Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe version of African Rythms.
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