TALENTED Mutare-based Sungura musician Brian Samaita – who entered the music scene following the death of top composer Tongai Moyo to whom he was a friend and promoter as his self-confessed devotee with his aptly named band Murondatsimba Express, has shifted allegiance to legendary Sungura pioneering artiste Leonard Dembo.
The swing came as a surprise considering that he recorded his first album with Dewa’s key Utakataka Express band members like Spencer Khumbulani who continues to play his bass guitar during recordings until now.
Samaita said the move was not as a result of his apparent fallout with his late friend’s son Peter Moyo but an effort to go back to the root of the music.
“We decided to go back a step to Dembo because that is where the late Dewa also derived his sound from in honour of the legend that created this distinct genre.
“We realized that while there are many artists who are trying to emulate Dewa very few were trying to revive Dembo’s original sound besides his sons,” Samaita said.
‘Eastern Igwee’ as he is fondly called by locals Samaita said the move has been well received by his fans as the album that he produced to signal the shift – Ndafunga Dembo has been well received.
The five-track project, which will quickly remind many of the late wordsmith because of his heavy and striking instrumentation as well as Samaita’s silky voice is arguably the musician’s best album ever judging on the response it has received, particularly the rave reviews on several local radio stations such as National FM and Diamond FM.
It’s his fifth studio album after Tsono, Murodzi Wepfungwa, Nemiwo Munazvo and Kumaziva Ndadzoka.
The hit Handityi kufa opens the album. It’s a prayer in which he begs God to give him more life and health so that he sees his children growing up.
The musician also takes time to honour his Mbizi clan, popularly known as Manjenjenje, on the sing along song Samaita – a fond reminder of Dewa’s plug track Sanyanyemba. It is a clever jit and sungura fusion.
Veteran sungura artiste Somandla Ndebele – who at one time produced an album with Tongai Moyo is featured on the song Hombarume.
Samaita urges against seeking wealth-enhancing charms on the song Kuromba. He cautioned against sacrificing innocent lives of relatives, including children, so that they amass wealth and power.
The album was recorded and produced by Bothwell ‘African’ Nyamhondera at Diamond Studios.
The instruments were done by veteran sungura instrumentalists who besides Khumbulani include Evidence Tarabuku, fondly known as Baba Gari was on lead guitar.
Discerning ears will note that unlike Dewa’s use of two rhythm guitars the new sound features only one as in Dembo’s music.