ONE way of putting off music lovers when you are a musician is failing to be innovative. When something keeps playing over and over again like an old vinyl record, the monotony can become unbearable.
It appears like Mathias Mhere (pictured) was alive to this reality, when he came up with his seventh offering, Panogara Nyasha.
Although he has largely retained his sound — which probably defines his music — he has also done several touch ups that have added a bit of excitement on the new album.
One certain winning formula with a lot of musicians have seen paying off dividends is roping in other musicians to add on new flavours to one’s traditional taste.
Mhere has done this by roping in fellow musicians on this new 10-track album, which features the legendary Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, Kudzi Nyakudya, Bethen Pasinawako and Olinda Marowa.
These are principalities in music in their own rights, and when you rope them in onto a project, you hit the right notes on the soundboard.
Tuku features on the song, Porofita. Here is one track you can listen to over and over again and still come back to it.
It is a “reflection” song that draws its theme on the story of Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones.
The haunting, bittersweet blow of the saxophone that defines the song is almost like a break from Mhere’s traditional sound and it is indeed a beauty.
Tuku’s gravel voice, like the sound of broken glass, lends a cutting edge to the song.
In the song, Mhere calls on Christians to use their mouths to speak right and declare what they desire to see manifesting in their lives.
In an earlier interview with NewsDay Life and Style ahead of the album’s launch, Mhere said he enjoyed working with Tuku “because it has always been my dream to do a collabo with him. He inspires me a lot.”
The blend of voices on the third track, Matables, gave the song a sharper flavour, as Mhere seamlessly fuses his voice with those of fellow gospel musicians Kudzi Nyakudya and Bethen Pasinawako.
The song is an acknowledgment of how God deals with his children’s enemies. The bottom line is that as believers move forward, their enemies will be scattered.
Mhere also adds a line crafted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as he sings that he will continue moving on “vavengi vachingovukura” (as his enemies continue barking with no bite).
Mhere has also gone for cheeky song titles as seen in Matables (God is turning tables), the fast-paced Adam and Sarafina.
While one’s memories may be quickly drawn to the epic South African anti-apartheid movie featuring American actress Whoopi Goldberg — Sarafina — the song has nothing to do with the film.
It is about a father advising a daughter named Sarafina not to be double-minded about her faith, lest she suffers the fate of Lot’s wife, whom the Bible says was reduced into a block of salt due to her disobedience.
Panogara Nyasha, the title track, is an acknowledgment of God’s grace and how it can place you beyond the reach of the enemy.
It is a heartfelt ode of gratitude to God for his protection, encouraging believers never to move away from the Lord, who is their security and strong tower, through good and bad times.
Mhere’s music is traditionally for the dancefloor and has a subtle sungura feel to it. Those who love gospel music, but are also incurably addicted to the enduring sungura sound, will love this album.
As per tradition, Mhere draws extensively from the scriptures to craft the messages of his songs.
Other songs on the album are Anogara Pakati Pedu, Emmanuel, Simba Kubuda, also featuring Olinda Marowa and Bhuku.
“We have done our part. We did our best, now it’s up to the fans to give it value. We hope they will fall in love with it. It’s laden with grace,” Mhere said.
Overall, Mhere has shown that he is also able to be flexible and this is what will likely put him over and ensure he has a longer shelf life on the gospel music circuit.