The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
BUSI Ncube remembers the days when she and the rest of the star studded Ilanga made the timeless song True Love.
Ncube was young and raw, rubbing shoulders with some of the greatest musicians to touch a microphone or pick up a musical instrument in Zimbabwe. Don Gumbo, Andy Brown, Adam Chisvo, Busi Ncube, Gibson Batishta, Keith Farquharson, were all there. All those legendary musicians crammed into one small studio whose size Ncube tried to illustrate by the stretch of her short arms.
“Our music didn’t come from a place of luxury or anything like that. The room which we made music was just tiny. It was like from that corner to that corner,” she said emphasising to Sunday Life how small their workspace was. “That’s the kind of space that we had. That’s where we cooked all that music. We did not have big spacious studios.”
Among all those would-be legends of the Zimbabwean music scene, Busi Ncube was the baby in the room, regarded by the likes of Gumbo as the little sister they had to groom for bigger things.
But with True Love the bigger things came faster than all of them thought, including Ncube. With an electric performance that complemented the perfect symphony of the all star band behind her, Ncube sealed her place in Zimbabwean music history. True Love has become a classic Zimbabwean love tune that has stood the test of time.
True Love has turned out to be true music that occupies a special place in the hearts of Zimbabwean music fans.
While it is an Ilanga song, it is remembered mostly for Ncube’s performance more than anything else and hence whenever the song is mentioned, she is too. While it can be flattering, Ncube said that sometimes she found it off putting when people wanted to talk about the track.
“I know people ask about it all the time and whether that upsets me or not depends on what mood I’m in,” she said.
Despite that Ncube acknowledged that the song is intimately linked to her and did wonders for her career, however, she said she had never let the chart topping smash hit’s success get to her head.
“It did not go to my head. I was like okay, this has happened and I didn’t expect it so that’s it. It shouldn’t go to my head. I stayed calm and to this day I’ve never let that fame affect me. I had the biggest band you could imagine with the best musicians, the crème de la crème. We had the late greats like Don Gumbo. They were all fantastic musicians,” she said.
Ncube who was in the city for a fundraising gig for the renovation of the National Art Gallery said she has never lost track of her roots. In fact, she had kept in touch with her childhood friends from Njube suburb despite the fact that most of them were also now scattered across the globe. All the way in Europe, she admitted that she sometimes missed the familiar sounds and sights of home.
“I do sometimes miss home. I miss playing in front of crowds at home because it’s always foreign (where I play). But the difference between me and others is that I come here every year. I try to do something whenever I come home and I’m not like those people who will stay away for five years and suddenly say I miss being home. I come home every year, whether it’s a holiday or whatever and I also make sure that I play in front of a local crowd. This is because I want to keep in touch with my roots,” she said.
She admitted to being out of touch with local music, with the one Bulawayo artiste that had grabbed her attention being the animated Madlela Sikhobokhobo.
“I’m not in touch with Bulawayo music and I hear it and it sounds the same. The one that I can say I truly know is Madlela Sikhobokhobo because he is the one that sounds unique. There’s also the poet Awa who is really doing great and is elevating,” she said.
The legendary musician said although distance had alienated her from Bulawayo’s budding musicians, she would continue her tradition of coming back and doing a show at least once a year.
“I think my umbilical cord draws me home. It’s here. I love my people and I have a family here. That’s the most important thing that brings me here,” she said.