Interview: Griffiths unveils latest single

How did you feel about incorporating a sample from Bob Nyabinde’s classic Chabuda Hapana into your song, and what significance does it hold for you?

THE track titled Where I’m Going is a rendition from the late jazz icon Bob Nyabinde’s timeless classic, Chabuda Hapana, and is a collaboration with local-based musician and producer Gangsta (whose production credits include Nutty O, Takura, Blaqbonez (Nigeria) and Sauti Sol (Kenya). Our arts and entertainment reporter Khumbulani Muleya (KM) recently had a conversation with songstress Gemma Griffiths (GG) about this latest single and music in general. Below are excerpts from the interview.

KM: How did you feel about incorporating a sample from Bob Nyabinde’s classic Chabuda Hapana into your song, and what significance does it hold for you?

GG: Growing up in Zimbabwe, I loved “The Headmaster”. Chabuda Hapana is one of my favourite songs. On top of this, I had grown to know Mr Nyabinde well, and so his music was even more special to me because of our friendship. So I went to Mr Nyabinde midway through last year to ask him if I could sample the guitars from that track. The message behind the original song is so strong and thought-provoking, and I wanted to continue that message in a new light.

KM: What was it like working with producer Gangsta on this track, and how did your creative visions align?

GG: After getting permission from The Headmaster, I took the idea to Gangsta, an awesome producer that I have loved working with. He started building the track and it just grew and came together so naturally. I loved some of the elements he added to the beat and the instrumental ending. He is a very talented producer.

KM: Your music often blends different styles and genres. Can you talk about your approach to fusion and innovation in your songwriting?

GG: I have such a love for so many different elements of music, different genres, tempos, etc. Music is so diverse and can do so much. It can heal, help you process, bring you joy and make you dance. It can connect to so many different emotions and hold so much significance to both happy and sad moments in my life. I love fusing that which I connect with.It feels good to create something new out of pieces. I often have a vision of what I am hoping to create, but I also exercise an open-minded approach to songwriting and allow the music to change course if needed.

KM: How does Where I’m Going fit into your larger body of work and what message do you hope it conveys to your audience?

GG: Where I’m Going is a nod to a very special song that meant a lot to me when I was younger, and has remained one of my favourite songs to frequent my playlist. It’s about knowing the direction you want to go in, and being okay with the ups and downs of the journey as you work towards that goal.

Not everything is perfect or easy when you are working towards a dream, but if you know where you are aiming, the ride itself can be as powerful as the goal you achieve at the end.

KM: You have had an incredible year with breakout hits such as Ndichatarisa and performances, notably at “Afro, Amapiano meets Reggae”. How do you feel about your rapid success and the international recognition you are receiving?

GG: I have loved every step towards this dream. To make music, to be creative daily, to travel and to touch people with the songs I write. I think the best part about it all, is that as much as I want to touch others with my music, I am learning more and more how much they are touching me. I have grown as an artist, but also as a person through this journey and it’s only the beginning.

KM: How do you stay true to your Zimbabwean roots and culture while also exploring global influences and collaborations?

GG: I love my home. It has moulded me into who I am. It is my biggest influence; the placewhere I feel the most like myself. I carry the values and the experiences from Zimbabwe into everything I do musically. I’m definitely influenced by what I listened to growing up and what I have studied musically. You can take the girl out of Zimbabwe, but you can’t take Zimbabwe out of the girl.

KM: What was it like collaborating with Albert Nyabinde, Bob’s son, on the saxophone cameo and how did that add to the song’s emotional depth?

GG: Albert is an amazing musician. Like father like son. It was incredibly inspiring, watching him, lay down the sax lines in the track. His layering of harmonies added so much energy to the track.

KM: How do you see your music contributing to the legacy of Zimbabwean icons like Bob Nyabinde and what impact do you hope to leave on future generations?

GG: I just hoped to celebrate and honour Bob in some way through this song. I hope it serves as a reminder to rediscover Zimbabwean classics and of how much of an impact he made on Zimbabwean music.

I hope in the end, I leave my mark on the music industry as a creative who celebrated Zimbabwe, loved experimenting musically and remained authentic throughout.

KM: Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you are working on and excited about, and where do you see your music journey taking you next?

GG: I have been in the studio, working hard on something so beautiful. I can’t wait to share with you all, but until then know that more music is on its way.


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