We caught up with the “Ndozvinoita Nyasha” gospel track singer last Sunday at an IprayLife Dandaro Cultural conference. There have been questions in the minds of many who watched the video to the track which he collaborates with Chelsea Mguni. Most question the significance of the accident scene in the video. It was this question that prompted this interview on what makes Jonah’s music as soulful and deep with as much creativity in choreography and video quality?
At start, Jonah’s story is the other side of the predictable ones for most gospel artists; born and raised in a Christian family with both parents as Pastors in the AFM church. He started performing in church when his mother would register him and his siblings to perform during church service ministrations as is traditional in most Pentecostal churches. In grade 6 Jonah composed his first complete song and even performed to throngs of people at Rufaro in Masvingo. His performance there, though only a single line as part of a Sunday school act, raised an astounding “Encore!” from the crowds at the Youth conference in 1998.
His story begins to take on a surreal turn when you go back in time to when it all began. Jonah says they were at a family prayer gathering which they were wont to hold regularly at their house when one of the ladies started prophesying. She gave a word to each of his siblings and the word from the Lord over Jonah’s life was that he would grow to be an anointed musician. Hence his mother’s initiative in making them sing in church.
However, other than church, Jonah seldom participated in any musical activities until high school. There, him and some friends started an acapella group called “All for God” which thrived throughout high school. Then something terrible happened – puberty! Jonah’s voice broke at the height of adolescence and this affected him much on an emotional level. It drove him right back to the no-activity zone as far as music was concerned.
After high school, though, a personal phenomenal experience happened. He had a dream in which two celebrated Gospel fathers laid hands on him; Dr. Shumbambiri of AFM and Archbishop Ezekiel Guti of Forward in Faith Ministries. In his dream, they had asked him to sing a popular AFM hymn, “Mwari muri zuva redu” before praying for him. The rest is all, as the adage goes, now history.
Jonah says he is inspired by various local and international artists but much of his South African musical feel he attributes to Sebastian Magacha and Kudzi Nyakudya. He gets support from Gospel gurus like Pastor G, Janet Manyowa and Takesure Zama. On the international arena, Jonah is inspired by the lyrical content of Cece Winans and the depth and spirituality of The Gaithers. When asked what his personal favourite is from his own music, Jonah laughs and answers “They are all my children, I have no favourites.”
He, however, recommends “Washandura” as his song of the season as it aptly defines Christianity in a society where people are quick to give labels based on one’s past -particularly the bad past. Even way after God has changed one’s life for the better. On listening to the song, it comes with a deep and inspiring message, concocted in a rich texture of an Afrocentric musical arrangement.