|Simon Chimbetu gone but not forgotten|
|Sunday, 21 July 2013 00:00|
It is almost a decade since Simon “Chopper” Chimbetu passed away, but he is still remembered with a fondness that has become a tribute to his never-dying legacy.
If it is not his music then it is his son, Suluman, fondly known to many as “Sulu”, or his nephews Douglas, Tryson and even nieces reminding us that a soldier never dies.
Years after his death, his music continues to inspire many and has stood the test of time. Like wine, it has gotten better with age. Add to this his son (Sulu) together with his uncle Allan and cousins who have successfully ensured that the legend’s legacy lives on.
And this year, for the second time in a row, the holding company of Orchestra Dendera Kings will be hosting a commemoration gig for the fallen great. Unlike the previous year, organisers have indicated the event will be bigger and better. Sulu’s manager, Trevor Jakachira, said this year’s occasion was reloaded.
“We had a similar event last year. However, the concept has improved this time around. The life of Simon is going to be celebrated throughout August, but the major event will be held in Harare on August 7,” he said.
Besides dedicating the whole of August to commemorating the Dendera exponent’s life, the major commemoration day will witness the birth of yet another concept. Close to a decade after his passing on, the Master of Song, as Chopper was also affectionately known, will have his music reproduced. And this time around not as renditions or remixes, but as an anthology.
“As part of the new concepts that we are going to introduce this year, we will be releasing a compilation album carrying seven selected songs from the late Simon. The album will be made available on the official commemoration day,” noted Jakachira.
The songs, he said, were going to be selected randomly.
The youthful Dendera musician, Sulu, said all Zimbabweans across the length and breadth of the nation will be part of the celebrations.
Some of the cities and towns that will play host to the commemoration gigs include Rusape, Mutare, Bulawayo, Beitbridge, Kadoma, Chinhoyi and Masvingo.
Apart from producing quality music, Simon popularised the use of different languages on his songs. He could sing in Shona, English, Swahili and Chewa, among other languages. He also enforced a sense of smartness among musicians with his fine fashion taste and the unmistakably neat haircut.
In the budding stages of his career, Chopper teamed up with his sibling Naison to form the Marxist Brothers, with whom he penned a number of great albums that include Mwana Wedangwe, Boterekwa, Kunjere Kunjere and Dendera Resango.
Though the duo at the time rocked the airwaves, Simon was to scale dizzy heights after going solo. On his own, the Master of Song released albums that made him a household name. The compositions were so powerful that they weathered competition from his colleagues in the industry that included the in-form Leonard Zhakata, Jonah Moyo, Oliver Mtukudzi, among others. His rich discography includes Karigoga, Nguva Yakaoma, Lullaby, Pachipamwe, Ndouraiwa, Survival, African Panorama-Chapter One (1999) and Two (2001), Zuva Raenda, 2000 Blend, Takabatana, Hoko and 10 Million Pounds Reward, which was his last offering.
Through the foundation built by Chopper, the Chimbetu family continues to produce talented musicians. Developments over the years have shown that it is not only the male Chimbetus who have music running through their veins; the women, among them Saiwe and Miriam, have plans to also make it in the cut-throat industry.