Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Arts Reporter
Rachel Jambaya, affectionately known as Rachel J, who rose to fame when she appeared on six billboards in greater Harare promoting her new single “Makwikwi”, says she is not a slay queen, but an artist.
“My music is about who I am and I’m not a slay queen. It is just a hobby not a career. I am not a musician but an artist,” she said, refuting allegations levelled against her by critics.
Rachel J has featured prominently on city billboards promoting her music. A number of critics have slammed her as a “slay queen,” largely due to what she says, is her flamboyant lifestyle.
“I wanted to put Zimbabwean artists on the same platform as international artists. It’s not the first time my work has appeared on billboards. In fact, I invest money into my music and if anything comes out of the music, oh well, it’s a bonus,” she said.
The vivacious singer-cum-businesswoman said the freedom of song is a direct contrast to the right rein she holds over herself in all other aspects of her life.
She said her natural optimism and energy have helped her survive in any condition.
The businesswoman’s singing talent may be remarkable but her business and family conscience are just as strong.
“I was raised by my grandmother, Gogo Phoeby who was a peasant farmer in Gweru who looked after me when my parents died. It was a tough world and Gogo Phoeby showed me the way and how to survive,” she said.
At 16, Rachel J completed her high school education before enrolling for a diploma at a local college.
She later left for South Africa where she enrolled for a degree programme in Fashion and Interior designing.
“I put myself through school having passed my A’ Levels before I joined Danhiko where I learnt so much about charity work,” she said.
Rachel J has refused to be pigeon-holed in one music genre. She has dropped a couple of gems including “Makwikwi” and “Triumph” a gospel number.
After the release of Makwikwi, a remix version was followed with a video featuring Soul Jah Luv, Sniper Storm and Lady Squanda.
“I also believe artists should not be restricted to one genre. I sing what I feel like whether gospel or dancehall.
“I don’t want to be boxed. My music is inspired by my lifestyle and societal settings,” she said.
Outside of music, Rachel J is a shrewd businesswoman.
“I am an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and of course an artist. A vision is important. People want to invest in a vision and more often than not they look for a principled person to invest in, so you have to have principles,” she said.
Rachel J has vast interests in mining, transport and logistics, fruit and vegetables, fuel, luxury bus coaches, Vashandi Transport and farming all under Jarach Investments.
She also owns a newspaper and printing company which prints exercise books, novels and labels for various products.
As a designer Rachel J has dressed the well to do, celebrities and prominent politicians.
She is set to host her new television show, coming soon.
Rachel J also does a lot of philanthropic work.