Zimbabwean blind musician releases debut album

John Madubeko, a Zimbabwean blind musician based in Gweru, has released his much-anticipated album Hossana after two decades of joining the music industry.

John Madubeko. Photo: Chronicle
John Madubeko. Photo: Chronicle

Popularly known as Big Dhara, Madubeko has endeared himself to Gweru music lovers with his guitar antics and his 10-year-old son’s drumming prowess.

Madubeko, 54, who has penned several songs routinely performed at functions and weddings, had never recorded an album in his 20-year music career. The wait is finally over as the Sungura artist and his ensemble, made of his three children, has released their first eight-track gospel album.

Recorded at Ghetto Studios in Gweru, the album has been well received, with the artist getting invitations to perform at public events.

“I perform at family shows and functions particularly church gatherings,” he said. “I have been invited to perform in local popular night spots but my children are still juveniles and that could give them an indecent upbringing. However, I am looking for new members since my children go to school so that I can perform outside Gweru.”

Madubeko, whose eight-year old daughter is the lead vocalist in all the songs, also spoke about his condition: “I became blind in the year 1994 because of an eye condition called Glaucoma. This is an eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, becomes damaged. This resulted in my blindness.

“I started begging people for help to earn a living but I later decided to join this industry and start using my singing talent as well as playing my guitar to take care of my family through donations.”

In 2012, a street band owned by two prominent Bulawayo blind musicians, Tafirenyika Dube and Gertrude Munodawafa, released a 10-track CD entitled Mwari Vangu.

Madubeko’s Hosanna is available in the streets of Gweru, Zimbabwe.

The article was originally published in Chronicle on 11 January 2017.

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