Home » Arts & Culture » Gospel Music Undergoes Revival

I have observed that in the last few years, Zimbabwe’s gospel music landscape has been taking a major shift. Gone are the days of rigidity in the genre as artistes go out of their way to incorporate various styles and beats in their music in a bid to cater for a wider market.

There was a time when it was taboo to use the hard sungura type of guitars on the stage and in recordings with regards to gospel music.

It took the courage of a few early gospel music guitarists to break the “jinx” by venturing into traditional beats that characterised and defined the Zimbabwean music.

But now, a revolution is taking place in the gospel music genre which is set to completely change it for the better.

It was, until recently, not a popular move for gospel music groups to record live Ds. We were used to being bombarded with Ds from foreign gospel musicians and groups like Hillsong, Michael Smith, Kirk Franklin, Donnie Mcclurkin, Don Moen and many others.

These were a marvel to watch considering the way they handled their live recordings because everything was perfect and up to scratch.

I have noticed that local groups are also doing their best now to offer their fans live recordings.

Today I look at the latest live recording project done by the United Family International Choir, commonly referred to as UFIC Choir.

The choir, made up of almost 1 000 members, recently released its fifth live album within two years.

The latest live recording simply titled “Revival Songs” is a marvel to watch as it was perfectly done and to international standards. I urge all those who aspire to make live recordings, especially of gospel songs, to watch and study how the D was done.

The D has 15 songs recorded before a packed 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale and the songs are in English, Shona and Ndebele, with the opening song simply titled “Hallelujah Song” mainly a worship piece.

That the song, composed by Pastor Michael Mahendere, talks about the greatness of the name of Jesus compels every believer to reflect on the love of God to mankind.

It is the message and the choir’s dressing on this song which captures the imagination of the viewer of the D. Dressed in flowing white garments with a gold lines on the wrists, the choir shows its versatility when it comes to innovation in terms of dressing. “Greater Works” is a feel joy song that makes anyone want to stand up and dance to the beat.

The songs was composed by Sharon Mafunga, but performed on the D by Pastor Hubert Chigumira, who leads the massive choir.

On this video, the choir changes into all black with white sweaters, with some members putting on white flowers. The aantage of the choir on this D is that it managed to capture the interest of the audience at 7 Arts Theatre from the first song right up to the end.

This is evidenced by the way the audience sings along and dance the night away to the music.

The choir managed to give a new feel to old songs such as “Ndiye Woga” which was composed by Mrs Rachel Mushosho of the group Family Singers some time ago. The song is performed by Alvin Chigumira whose clear voice and worship qualities makes the song sound new even to those who have listened to its other versions.

The title track “Revival Song” was composed by Pastor Mahendere and leaves no one in doubt that a revival is going on in Zimbabwe, not only in the church, but also in gospel music. It is the revival in music that is aptly captured by the entire D album which is a mixture of various beats, but all aimed at praising and worshipping the Lord.

Disc B of the live recording opens with a new set, with the choir wearing black trousersskirts and shirtstops of different colours.

The disc is made up mainly of praise songs which are danceable.

“PendukaniTendeuka” is done in both Shona and Ndebele, while “Hamba Nami” is purely a Ndebele song.

My pick on the whole album is the song “Zvichanaka” which was composed by Pastor Mahendere who roped in his wife Vimbai to perform it on the D.

It is a song that gives hope not only to believers because the message is clear that all things will be well because of what Jesus promised.

Included on the album is the American contemporary gospel song “Our God is an Awesome God” and it is on this song that the choir shows its innovativeness.

The song is done in English, Shona, Sotho and French by different singers who show their versatility.

UFIC choir’s latest achievement is winning last year’s Zima awards in the Best Contemporary Choral Music with its live recording “We are a Family”.

But this was after it got five nominations at the awards for Best Contemporary Choral Music with three albums “Divine Solutions Volume 2, “Divine Solutions Volume 3” and “We Are a Family”.

The choir was also up for Album of the Year with “We are a Family” and also for Best DuoGroups category with the same album.

The choir was formed in 2008 by Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and his wife Prophetess Ruth Makandiwa, starting with only 30 members.

It recorded its debut album in 2009 titled “Season of the Spirit”, followed by “Possessing the Promises” that contained 15 tracks in 2011 and then “Prophetic Praise and Worship” in 2012.

In 2013, the live D album “We are a Family” was recorded, leading to the other recordings live recordings.

Source : The Herald