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Talking Drum bounces back

At their peak, Talking Drum delivered classics like Moyo Wangu (Urikuchema), Come to Me (Hapana Mazwi) as well as Red Sun and they were indeed a force to reckon with on the local music scene.

By Moses Mugugunyeki

Michael Lannas says Talking Drum is alive and kicking

Frontman Michael Lannas, who had mobilised a group of talented musicians in 1987 to form Talking Drum, tried to keep the band going, but that was not to be as members went their separate ways.

However, memories of their music still remain vivid in many people’s minds.

The original Talking Drum was made up of Brian Paul (bass guitar), Brian Jerome Williams and Wellington Mandizha on vocals, Temba Gumbo on lead guitar, Stuart Hutchinson on keyboards and the late Sebastian Mbata on drums.

At some point Talking Drum had to rely on session musicians and roped in the late Brian Rusike, Kelly Rusike, Louis Mhlanga, Henry Peters and Rick van Heerden. It was a super-talented outfit and with Lannas on the vocals, they churned out hit after hit.

Lannas, who is now based in the United Kingdom, told The Standard Style last week that the Talking Drum ship was still afloat although a new crew was now steering it.

“There are fantastic new musicians in Zimbabwe like Ngoni Andrew Chikuse, Matthew Ngorima, Nicholas Mutuwa and Kelvin Tapie. We have just recorded an album together and we are working on the second,” he said.

He said there were plans for a reunion tour where a handful of the remaining original members would be roped in for gigs in Harare and Bulawayo in the near future.

“There is a Talking Drum Concert coming soon and it will be held in Harare and Bulawayo,” Lannas said.

The musician, who was born in Harare’s Arcadia suburb, paid tribute to the late Brian Rusike.

Rusike, of Ruva Rangu fame, had been dead for nearly two months when his decomposing body was discovered on Tuesday last week at his Gunhill home in Harare.

“Talking Drum would not have been Talking Drum without my beloved brother Brian Rusike. We were more of ‘twin brothers’ but of different mothers.

Between us there was no colour. He was a genius. May his soul rest in peace,” he said.

With four albums under his belt, Lannas said he was still doing what he likes best — music — although he has a demanding job in the UK.

“I moved to the UK after I had been offered a fantastic job. I am always busy working solo and I have two different bands that I work with here. I am still writing and recording music. I have released three albums in the last year and written a book ,” he said.

“I am so critical about what happens in Zimbabwe because I love my country. I am not that bitter, but my country deserves something better.”

Lannas broke into the music scene with a group called Dharma where he teamed up with Isaac Chirwa.

He said Zimbabwe was endowed with latent music talent, although he felt little was being done to develop such talent.

“I am coming back to Zimbabwe to work with the young musicians. We will soon conquer the world. The music and ability of the young artistes, especially that of Ngoni, Matthew, Nicholas and Kelvin, is fantastic,” he said.

Lannas, a qualified pharmacist, said he started music at a tender age.

“My mother said I sang my first song on the day I was born. I am the only musician in my family. As of Talking Drum, the best is yet to come,” he said.
The Come to Me singer said there was need to revamp the local music.

“Without the resuscitation of the music market, young Zimbabwean musicians would not be able to make a living and Zimbabwean music would die,” Lannas said.

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