Pamhidzai Tracy Mbirimi’s soulful Afro-Jazz music has a unique freshness that stands her out as a natural singer. Known by her stage name ‘Pah Chihera’, she has just released her debut album, Runonzi Rudo, which has love birds in Zimbabwe all singing along. The title track features the slick Prince K Musarurwa who seamlessly complements her authentic voice for a heart-warming twosome:
The Truth About: Pah Chihera
Home Town & Current City: Harare
Current City: Harare
Age: March 6, 1991
Marital Status & Children: In a relationship
Genre: Afro Jazz
How did your career start, and where are you projecting yourself with all the talent currently coming out of Zimbabwe?
Music is something that I was born doing, although I had a strong passion for modelling when I was younger. I began as a backing vocalist for my Uncle Kudakwashe Prince, who is featuring in most of my tracks.
My uncle then decided to wean me and let me to record solo, with Runonzi Rudo as my first Album. I have always believed in quality and not quantity so I have taken my time to polish this album and I see myself growing and becoming a better artist .
Have you found Zimbabweans supportive?
Kusatenda huroyi chokwadi. I would like to say I’m really humbled with the warm responses I’m getting since releasing my album. Zimbabweans are really supportive and I’m very grateful.
I’m ever learning and I take praise and criticism as part of the constructive process to only make me better. As they say, 'akubaya zanhi ndewako'.
What do you consider your greatest musical strength?
Are you currently signed by a record deal?
I’m not signed with any recording company, but I am considering Chigutiro Records. These guys are really assisting me a lot, especially Shayne Dingz, he has been supportive and I can never thank him enough for the marketing and exposure he’s giving me. I think and feel Chigutiro Records is my home.
Do you write your own songs?
Yes, I am involved in the song writing. I’m generally inspired by real life experiences and tell stories from it. My uncle Prince K Musarurwa has also written some of my songs and we’re a great team.
If someone picks your CD from a record bar for the first time, what should they expect?
I want to think that my music is value-laden, conserves traditional values and contributes to our heritage. Most of my songs carry a message on life in marriages, respect for husbands and maintenance of their positions in the home and that is part of our culture.
I must emphasise that giving men the respect they deserve and being submissive doesn’t mean women have to put up with oppression. So my music tells life stories in an entertaining fashion, which I believe will go a long way and change the lives of many people.
On the respect theme, I also sing about the use of totems – itself a sign of respect and pride in one’s identity. I believe this should not be done away with by trying to westernise things.
What is your favourite musical instrument?
Easy, it’s the mbira.
PAH CHIHERA: RUNONZI RUDO
Do you have a day job?
I don’t have a day job, but I have recently been indulging in selling imported shoes and handbags as part of my income generation project. Soon will set up my own company, Pah Chihera Fashion.
Which schools did you go to?
Zvaramba Primary School and Mufakose High 3. I then enrolled with ZDECO College for a reception management course and then Herentals College where I received a diploma in hotel and catering management.
What is your guiding philosophy?
I believe we all learn from mistakes. You fall at some point, if not many times, but the most important thing is you get up and dust yourself and soldier on being careful not to fall in the same pit again.
You have released a video for ‘Runonzi Rudo’, tell us more about it?
It’s my first ever video. We had a small budget but I’m pleased with what we came up with. Asthey say, the first cut is the deepest and I’ve a feeling it will be my greatest, though there’s a lot more in my tank to do better.
The video was shot in Harare Gardens. There’s a myth that the park is where all the romance emanates from, so we decided to shoot it there. Runonzi Rudo tells a story of a girl and a boy who meet in the park and both happen to be listening to the same song through their earphones. Mesmerised by the song, they both fall into a trance, seeing themselves in love and having fun.
The boy, to his great disappointment, later comes to his senses and realises it was all a daydream, to the embarrassment of the girl. Thumbs up to Slimaz Production the brains behind the choreography for a splendid job!
Which song by any other artist holds special memories for you?
Dance with my Father Again by Luther Vandros. My father has always been my hero and every time I listen to that song, all the memories flash back and I can never have too much of that song.
How do you spend your free time?
I’m usually with my mum, who is my best friend, if I’m not in the studio or running around trying to make ends meet through marketing my new range of shoes and handbags. On an important note for me, I don't miss church on Sundays. I’m a Christian, though I wouldn't want to call Christianity a religion but rather a way of life. I wouldn't want to trade my Jesus with anything.
What is your definition of love?
Being there for one another even when you have differences – poor or rich, with or without. Understanding and respecting each other.
Do you have any Zimbabwean role models and who is your international role model?
Oliver Mtukudzi is my role model without doubt. Internationally, I’ve so much respect for Zahara. Those two have set the standard for me.
How do you manage emotional situations in your life?
In the face of criticism, I’ve learnt and taught myself to always look at the positive side. Never take everything personally. I’m motivated by Luke 12: 25 which says "Which of you by worrying can add an hour to your life?" So I take emotional situations as a stepping stone to yet another step in life and rather smile instead of crying.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’ve a lot of gas in my tank so expect a lot from me. With time, I hope to not only be on awards lists but more importantly being recognised for positively influencing a lot of people through my music. I want to thank all those who have supported me so far. I promise them that Pah Chihera is here to stay and entertain.