Godwin Muzari Arts Editor
Gweru-based gospel songstress Respina Patai, who is popularly known as Mai Patai, could be on an emphatic rebound.
Since the release of her album “Punish the Devil” recently, her sharp voice has been melodiously screaming loud on most radio stations.
Her songs “Ndinodavira” and “Anokomborera” have topped charts on the weekly Radio Zimbabwe Coca-Cola Top 20.
The songs have made serious impact on air with Midlands 98.4, a radio station from her province, making the hits a staple of their selections.
That unmistakable sharp voice, which made a mark when she did highly-successful track “Mazambara” some years ago, is piercing the airwaves once again.
Could she claim the ‘queen of gospel’ title on the scene where competition among gospel divas has massively fallen?
During the days of “Mazambara”, she managed to snatch attention on a landscape that had tight contest among the likes of Mai Charamba, Shingisai Suluma, Ivy Kombo, Carol Chivengwa-Mujokoro, Primrose Cement and Fungisai Zvakavapano.
Even rising female gospel voices of that time that included Mercy Mutsvene, Jackie Madondo, Ruth Mapfumo, Joyce Simeti and Amanda Sagonda were also claiming their pieces of the cake.
Competition was really tough and the current scenario is a far cry from that golden era of gospel music.
Save for Mai Charamba, who has been consistent over the years, most divas in the industry at the moment are struggling to get big crowds.
And that leaves a convenient gap to Mai Patai. Having convincingly pulled ropes to get recognition at a challenging time, she should surely know how to play the cards.
Her new album is evidence of a well-crafted strategy to take over.
She only needs live shows to prove that she still has the energy with which she swayed to her popular “bheriya” dance.
Choreography is one of the areas she expertly mastered. She would lead her team of aggressive dancers through inimitable “bheriya” paces.
Every time she went on stage people were assured of a good act and she often stole the show at divas’ concerts.
Then, they were known as Baba naMai Patai and The Voice of Prophecy because she was still working with her husband Ephraim Patai.
But this time Baba Patai has decided to take a back seat and let his wife steer The Voice of Prophecy.
He has confidence in her because she used to completely steal the limelight from him, especially at live shows.
If Mai Patai still has that performance acumen, then her emphatic return is guaranteed.
The album has already announced her comeback in a good way.
She could become another big name from Midlands province that already has produced a list of successful male musicians.
She has the potential of being the most successful female singer from the province.
Although “Ndinodavira” and “Anokomborera” are instant hits, other songs on “Punish the Devil” have potential to take good shares on the market.
The praise and worship songs are laden with messages that were surely crafted to punish the devil.
Other tracks on the album are “Moyo Munyoro”, “Usatye”, “Shoko Rinesimba” “Dai Asiri Jesu”, “Ruvengo” and “Denga Rashe”.
In a recent interview Mai Patai said she would maintain her apostolic flair in her brand although she left an apostolic sect to join a Pentecostal denomination.
“New revelations led us to move to another church. We still respect our previous leaders and the teachings that we got from them.
“We worship the same God and our music is interdenominational. We will try to preach to everyone through our music regardless of denomination,” she said.
Her husband said he will be working on his album later and the focus at the moment is to assist Mai Patai on her new project.
“She is eager to continue preaching the word through music. There were many other commitments that kept us busy. Her heart had a burning desire to return to the music scene. She was always talking about it and I am happy that the album is now out,” said Baba Patai.