The Soul Brothers are coming! Bulawayo, Maphisa get ready for razzmatazz

The Chronicle

Lovemore Dube, Chronicle Correspondent

IT promises to be a walk down memory lane — a blast to the past — a journey that will turn many into a nostalgic mess. The razzmatazz, the music, the obvious fashion statements — will all be part of the show.

They are the Soul Brothers and for many years, Zimbabwe was their second home. As things stand, they are coming back to thrill locals with their fancy dress, chilled, but visually aesthetic dance moves and those melodic rhythms that only “Black” Moses Ngwenya can tap out of a keyboard!

They have promised their Zimbabwe fans a show to remember when they perform in Bulawayo and Maphisa in December.

Band leader Ngwenya spoke to Saturday Chronicle from his base in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening and was quick to tell this writer just how happy the group was to return to Zimbabwe. 

He said their return, five years after their Skyz Metro Celebrations show back in December of 2017 will evoke both happy and sad memories.

“We are going to take them back besakhula bebancane, their parents` favourites’ songs, abanye kuzoba buhlungu because bazokhumbula abazali abangasekho ababedlala iSoul Brothers Songs. But it will be a good experience for some seeing us for the first time.

“I think this time around we are more than happy because we have more than two performances, not only one show. Soul Brothers has lots and lots of hits, so we can even split our songs in these two shows,” said Ngwenya, a keyboard wizard.

Soul Brothers

The Soul Brothers have a huge fan base in Zimbabwe, both young and old, cultivated through the group’s early hits like Umshoza, Sibongile, Deliwe, Mama kaSibongile and Ungiphoxile.

Over the past 48 years, the band has evolved following the deaths of founding members David Masondo, Thuza Mthethwa, American Zulu and Zenzele Mnchunu but their sound has remained intact, lyrics for all occasions and stage presentation second to none in the genre.

While Simon “Mahlathinini” Nkabinde and Mahotella Queens are credited with the founding of Mbaqanga, the Soul Brothers perfected it and took it to another level that has made their music stand the test of time.

Ngwenya said the group is excited about the tour because of memories of previous visits and performances.

“We are so excited whenever we are invited to Zimbabwe, because we have old memories of our performances that we had with Zenzele Mnchunu and David Masondo when they were still alive,” said Ngwenya.

He said he would bring basically the group that visited Zimbabwe in 2017 with Siboniso Zuma on lead guitar.

Zuma had been standing in for lead guitar virtuoso Maxwell Mngandi who at that stage was on retirement nursing diabetes in KwaZulu-Natal.

Ngwenya spoke of Mngandi, describing him as a great artiste that he had worked with for over 35 years.

“We lost a Soul Brothers legendary musician, we had been with him for 35 years in the group. Now we have Siboniso Zuma who was with our group Imitshotshovu,” said Ngwenya whose group’s last recording was Iqiniso three years ago which was hit by the coronavirus.

He conceded that the CD had not done well on sales but was made available on downloads.

He said the last three years were hard for the group as there were no shows held as there was a ban on public performances due to Covid-19. 

“It was very difficult to survive during Covid because we were not allowed to perform, so some of the musicians decided to go back for a while. But because everything is opening up they are coming back to Johannesburg,” said the legend who in his own right plays as Black Moses releasing and performing instrumental music with a strong keyboard sense.

He also disclosed that the band was working on a new album but were hard hit by power cuts in Johannesburg where they are recording at Downtown Studios in Doornfontein.

Ngwenya said the fans must look forward to new and old songs in December.

“We have added new and old songs to our performances, songs like Iqiniso, Uphelile Umndeni Wami where the group mourns departed members like Masondo, Zulu, Mnchunu, Mthethwa, Japan Sidoyi, Sipho Bhengu and Mngandi as well as Hluphekile, Mantombazane, Inhlawulo, Xolisa uMoya, Heyi Wena, Hamba Ntombi and many more.

Ngwenya said the music genre will not disappear from the scene as the group will embark on workshops for the youths around South Africa.

With the group having resolved to release an album every two years in 2018, Ngwenya says he is being kept busy taking care of Impumelelo, Imitshotshovu, Oguluva, Young Brothers, Soul Brothers Brass Band and Thokozani Rhadebe.

Rhadebe took over the lead singer role from David Masondo in 2015 and Spha Masondo and Thami Khulu have ensured that none of the beautifully presented choreography disappears.

Ngwenya could not single out any album that sold more than others in Zimbabwe.

“Eish, I think in Zimbabwe most of our albums were liked and sold well,” said Ngwenya.

The man behind this upcoming trip is one Vusa Majazi who confirmed that they were working on bringing the Soul Brothers to Zimbabwe.

He said at this moment there was still a lot of work to be done as they were working on clearances with relevant statutory bodies.

He also revealed that the poster had accidentally been leaked while they were still working on finalising with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe among other statutory bodies.

“We are trying by all means to make this possible. It is unfortunate that the flyer was leaked before we could go through the formalities and we hope to do the right things and make it a reality with the blessings of the statutory bodies.

“We don’t know how the flyer leaked and while public response is positive, we will of course wait for the Arts Council to deal with our application before we issue further details on the Soul Brothers. As you can see there are no venues as yet as we are still to finalise with the Arts Council and ensure other protocols are in place,” said Majazi.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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