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SPORTING dreadlocks and playing a guitar while a female vocalist sang the lyrics to Andy Brown’s classic “Mawere Kongonya”, one would be forgiven for thinking, just for a second, that Andy Brown had risen. That was the case for this writer last weekend as Andy Brown’s children, Alex and Chengeto, belted their father’s songs at Pariah State. Andy Brown is one of Zimbabwe’s fallen legends whose music made a significant impact on the local entertainment scene.
Hit songs that include “Daisy”, “Mapurisa”, “Shungu”, “Tichangoshaina” and “Fiona” among others, certified the artiste as a superstar and his death was a great loss to the local music industry.
Although Andy went to the afterlife, his legacy lives on through his seed, with three of his children; Ammara, Chengeto and Alex following their father’s path. While Ammara and Chengeto have been the more visible Brown siblings, Alex has recently popped up and he has an astonishing resemblance to his father.
But it comes as no surprise that he is not known to many, he only got to meet his father just a few weeks before he died, having left Zimbabwe for the USA as a toddler. Alex, who is proving to be a talented guitarist, has been performing at various venues in Harare with his sisters.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail Leisure after his performance at Pariah State last week, Alex said he is happy to be reunited with his roots. “Zimbabwe is a beautiful place man, my family is here and you know I didn’t grow up knowing my father, my sisters and other relatives so since I came here, I just don’t want to leave.
“I was born in Zimbabwe but my mom and I moved to the States when I was two years old so when I was growing up I never got the opportunity to meet the family from my father’s side,” said Alex.
Although he did not meet his father for the greater part of his life, he knew who he was and with music running through his veins, he started showing interest in the art from age six. He says his reunion with his father, although brief, was an exhilarating experience which also proved to be the turning point of his musical career.
“I didn’t know my father very well but in 2012 he asked me to spend time with him. He was going on a tour in Sweden so he invited me to join him there so I packed my things along with my guitar and went there.
“This would be my first memorable encounter with him since my only encounter with him was when I was still a toddler and I don’t remember any of that except in pictures.” The senior Brown was keen on sharing the stage with his son and so he taught him some of his songs just a day before he hit the stage.
“I didn’t even know any of his songs and he had to teach me ‘Kongonya’ and ‘Zindoga’ but despite that they were new songs to me when we were performing them the next night, everyone in the crowd knew every word and it was really intense.
“I was only 15 but this was the first time I was experiencing Zimbabwean culture or even meeting a Zimbabwean and this proved to be the turning point of my life because I wanted to experience more of this culture.”
Life can be cruel sometimes — tragedy struck and Alex lost his father just a few weeks after he had started reconnecting with him. “I came here for the funeral, went to Mberengwa and I said to myself I am going to move here when I am 18 after I finish school.
“I came here in November after Chiedza died, I am finally here and I’m not going anywhere. I am Zimbabwean and I’m here for good. I will try my best to carry on my father’s legacy and make people proud,” said Alex.
He went on to share a bit about his musical career from the time he started. “I started doing music when I was six because even before I met my father, I knew who he was so I also wanted to play a guitar just like him. Basically I have known how to play a guitar for as long as I can remember and I really love doing music.”
Alex took music classes at school, which helped him develop skills of working with other artistes.
“I mastered the theory and I know all the choral progressions, I know every scale, this and that but then I have my own style of writing music. I used to be in a jazz band and at one point I got a music scholarship but basically I am a self-taught artiste because I taught myself to play every instrument that I play.
“I play the lead guitar, bass, drums, I can play mbira and I also play the saxophone, which was one of the first few instruments I learnt to play.” He said it has always been his dream to come and do music on a professional level in his father’s homeland.
“Back in the States, I was involved with a lot of music groups but my goal since dad died was to come here and pursue music. So technically I was just practising, getting experience and recording things but then when I came here that is when I said I am going to start getting serious.
“I have been performing a lot since I got here at places like Bar Rouge, Unplugged, Wing Wah and I have also performed at Maestro several times.”
The 20-year-old who has of late been performing with Ammara and Chengeto has already begun working on an album, which is set to feature music from across genres.
“I am working on my album right now so before I start having my own shows and performing my own songs I am going to finish it, which I hope will be the beginning of next year.
“First and foremost I am a guitarist without a specific genre that I focus on so I have written dancehall songs, sungura, pop and I even played rock and I don’t want to put myself in a box so when my album comes out, it is going to be a mixed bag.
“I love so many different types of music and I can’t do one thing, I will never be able to focus on one genre of music so I want to do a little bit of everything and prove that I am good at it.” He relishes working with his sisters who have been showing him the ropes on the local music scene.
“Working with my sisters has been great because they have taught me a lot, which is like a continuation of what I learnt about local music from my dad when I met him. Ammara has been showing me the ropes and Chengeto and l are writing songs together so it’s working out well.”by Andrew Moyo. source-sundaynews.
Andy Brown is back!
photo-zimbojam-The late musiscian,Andy Brown’s children, Chengeto and Alex.