Two albums in a year for Josphat Somanje

BY GILBERT MUNETSI

Award-winning sungura musician Josphat Somanje has this year released two albums, one of which he has dedicated to his birthday which he celebrated this month.
Famed for numerous songs that became instant hits in the yester-year, Somanje opted to pursue a solo career after falling out with his now deceased brother, Daiton, following what the siblings termed “irreconcilable differences’’.

Somanje went on to form Somanje Stars with which he has produced a total of 20 albums, some of them chart-breakers and award-winning projects. He is a recipient of a National Arts Merit Awards gong and one of his albums, This Time, was the number 1 song on the Radio Zimbabwe Top 100. A video from the same album was also voted the best for the year.

Now the Marondera-based hit maker comes with not one, but two albums, titled Hope DzaDaniel and Zvine Zvinozvidaro.

“We are now busy marketing the second album because companies that used to do both recording and marketing of the traditional vinyl and cassettes for us are no longer the same we are working with,” Somanje told Standard Style.

“And with the advent of the digital era, the current scenario is such that we get a master copy which we then use on various marketing platforms that include Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

“The advantage with this set-up is that we are able to reach out to our fans in all parts of the world at the click of a few buttons and the remuneration is much better because at times the money comes in hard currency.”

Like many other productions preceding the current Zvine Zvinozvidaro, the Somanje Stars frontman believes the album is going to be a hit, and could not have come at a better time than now when there are a few more months going into the festivities.

Comprising six tracks — Claris, Ita Daddy, Iwe Ndipe Rudo, Kamelemede, Musambo and Tsombori — the singer touches on a variety of themes such as Covid-19, single motherhood, humanity and oneness. He tips the track Tsombori to rule the roost and cause a stir on the airwaves, in homes and social spheres.

Apart from leading the vocals with the help of his son, Clever, Somanje also put his hand to the sub-rhythm on some tracks. On bass guitar is Simba Moses, Phil Mudzigwa is on drums and the other rhythm is strummed by Bemba Farm-based Gumisai Chimwanda who also footed the expenses for the whole project.

Meanwhile, Hope DzaDaniel — the album he did during the first quarter of the year — had its success hampered by technical challenges as the software used by the recording studio was not compatible with that of most local broadcasting stations. While he is pushing sales for it, Somanje has plans to re-do it so that it is able to enjoy sufficient airplay.

An immensely gifted vocalist in his own right, Somanje says he has never regretted going his own path, though he still commands a lot of respect for his departed elder brother, Daiton, with whom he formed a formidable combination.

From very humble farm-set beginnings, they together stormed the deep sungura waters, causing quite a stir with such hits as Kwatakabva Kure Nenhamo, Munofamba Muchinditaura, Seiko Kuonda, Titonganisei, Zvibate Pamhaka and an all-time favourite for many, Tsaona.

The two alternated on vocals on the total of 28 albums they recorded together and it was after the release of the blockbuster Tsaona that the centre could no longer hold, and they went separate ways.

Somanje, who has built himself a decent home in Cherutombo suburb south-east of Marondera town, complements his musical carèer with the repair of electronic gadgets under the banner of his company, Josphat’s Diplomatic Electronics Engineering. His music is a mixture of kanindo and sungura.

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