Educative lyrics, a cross-rhythm of beats that have elements of jazz, sungura and jit; a distinct self-carved voice, that systematically intones, rises and falls in tempo and crescendo, when it must, sums up the music of Charles Charamba, for me.
When he intones and postures on stage, Charamba does it so well, that even angels on their flight to Heaven would stop and gaze in awe.
There is no monotony in Charamba’s music like the traditional gospel songs that are predictable and in most cases, moribund. Lifeless!
From his albums Tinashe Akatendeka (1997) to Vhusere (2000) to Pashoko Pangoma (2010) to Abba Father (2020), Charamba has proved to be a creative genius of all time.
Boy oh boy, Charamba is to me the only gospel musician who takes the Bible from its laid back gothic state to real life. His music breathes life to Biblical verses and makes them more meaningful and relevant to modern life.
His lyrics capture your imagination: for example, the debacle of the stuttering Moses at the Red Sea on that famous journey from Egypt to the promised land of Canaan and how about the hullabaloo at Noah’s Ark?
The characters from siblings to professionals and traditional leaders all playing tomfoolery to their perish, at the behest of the huge flood. “Ndiwo maperero adzakaita hama dzedu idzi dzekutanga… kufunga funga kwakaita vapaare…” he comments insidiously, thereafter.
The song Buruka is an all-time hit and Charamba’s quaking voice projection and intonation deliberately give the song an emotional tempo while repetition gives it emphasis. Machira Chete is light and is easy to dance to and yet it is pregnant with meaning. It captures the morning after the death of Jesus, the harbinger of Christianity.
The other lyrics I have found irresistible are; “Nemuchadenga ndafariramo, nidkaendza kuidya nyika ikaramba kupera…. Mhiri Kwemakungwa ndakafarirako, ndikaenda kuiday nyika ikaramba kupera…” Great stuff. Great warning!
Other big hits for me are Mhinduro Iripo, Sarudzai, Nyika, Kombererai Vana Vangu’.
Like or hate him, believe in Christ or not, to me Charamba remains the greatest gospel musician of all time. His music transcends across ages and races as I once witnessed in one of his show in the United States of America, years ago.
I am not a Christian. I don’t belong to any Christian denomination so no one will accuse me of favouring Charamba.
The good thing is that he does not struggle with his instruments, he does not struggle with his intelligence, his interpretation of issues is amazing and he brings life and humour too. Before you know it, the music sweeps you away. Musically, Charamba does not struggle with anything.
On stage Charamba is serious. He is at work and he commands his band and presents it with decency. The dances are not untoward like we have seen in some gospel outfits.
When the history of gospel music is written and written properly without fear or favour, Charles Charamba’s name will occupy a special place for Christians and non-Christians. It is good music. It is life itself.