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Zimbabwean gospel singer brings music, joy to Cazenovia

Zimbabwean gospel sensation and social activist Tembalami is performing for Cazenovia College students April 9, and for the general public April 12 and 13 at Summit Church.

Zimbabwean gospel sensation and social activist Tembalami is performing for Cazenovia College students April 9, and for the general public April 12 and 13 at Summit Church.

— On his first visit to the United States, in the midst of an East Coast tour, international gospel sensation and social activist Tembalami is spending some of his time in Cazenovia and performing three concerts in the village this week.

“It’s like something out of a postcard,” he said of Cazenovia last week. “I think I’ll take pictures of everything, it’s so beautiful here.”

Tembalami Tagwirei— who is typically known simply as “Tembalami” — is a gospel musician from Zimbabwe with a passion for inspiring, motivating and educating the current as well as the next generation. His first solo album, “Brighter Day,” released in 2011, has had three hit songs on radio — and in Zimbabwe a radio single is a big deal.

“In a country with only three radio stations, if your song gets on the radio, you’ve made it,” said Simba Moyo, Tembalami’s drummer, who, along with keyboardist Tatenda Mathe, is part of Tembalami’s band.

Tembalami’s U.S. tour, Project It Takes a Village, kicked off in New Jersey in late March, went to North Carolina and this weekend is in Syracuse and Cazenovia. According to ZimEye, the Zimbabwe news source, Tembalami is “Zimbabwe’s most popular gospel and grooviest of all artistes … who took Zimbabwe by storm in 2012,” and “his song ‘Tomurumbidza,’ is set to set the U.S. on fire with a host of the latest powerful original hits.”

Tembalami, 32, has been singing his entire life and for a while was a secular pop musician. “There were huge crowds, number one records but no satisfaction,” he told the Cazenovia Republican. “It took a while to find my place in the world. I wanted to do music that impacted people’s lives positively.”

When he switched to gospel music he performed at churches, weddings and funerals; often, hurting and depressed people would contact him afterward to say his music played a role in their lives, he said. And now, because of technology, his music also spreads beyond Zimbabwe and across the globe.

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