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Celebrating Andy Brown: A Tribute to a Zimbabwean Musical Legend

Maunganidze Kedia Shoko popularly known as Andy Brown was a Zimbabwean singer, songwriter and guitarist of note. He was born in Mberengwa in the year 1962 and died in Harare in 2012 at the age of 50. He did his primary and part of his secondary school in Mberengwa before his family relocated to Bulawayo where he completed his education at Founders High School.

By Marshall Shonhai

It was at Founders that his love for music really began to show, it is reported that Andy would bunk classes so that he could play his guitar. After he completed his school, he had a brief flirtation with the Group Ebony Sheikh before teaming up with Gabriel Green in 1980 to form the group Pisces.

Band Ilanga performed with Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Youssou N’Dour, and the Bhundu Boys in 1988. Band Ilanga is one of the best musical groups to emerge from Zimbabwe. Band members were talented vocalists and instrumentalists, who later started their own successful solo careers. The members were Comrade Chinx, Andy Brown, Busi Ncube, Keith Farquharson, Don Gumbo, Gibson Batishta and Adam Chisvo.”

Andy Brown later relocated to Harare where he teamed up with Rozalla Miller and Boykie Moore to form the group Grabb. The group fell apart after Rozalla moved to England in 1984. In 1985, Andy briefly joined The Rusike Brothers before getting together with Don Gumbo and Brian Paul to form Ilanga, their first recordings did not do well leading to Brian’s departure. Andy and Don then merged with the group Barrel of Peace which was made up of Cde Chinx, Keith Farquharson and Joseph Mosias Munyaradzi Brown. Later Busi Ncube, Adam Chisvo and Virgillio Ignacia also joined the group form one of Zimbabwe’s most formidable bands of all time. Despite being one of the best groups in the country in the late 80s, Ilanga was short-lived only releasing two albums, Visions Foretold and Silver and Gold.

In 1988, Brown was the first to leave the star studded Ilanga and formed his own group The Storm which was made up of Raymond Mashava on guitar and vocal, Charles Mapika on drums and percussion, Jabulani Zondo on bass guitar and vocals, Nargie Khan on keys and vocals with Andy himself on guitar and lead vocals. Produced by legendary producer Tymon Whitehorse Mabaleka, Andy’s debut album called “The First Storm” came the following year in 1989 and carried the timeless classic “Cool It Babe”.

His second album “Chimvuramabhwe” came in 1990 and this record is somewhat a mystery. I have gone up and down and dug very deep to find it but with no luck. My last hope was my good brother Ranga Mberi and he too said he gave up the search for it. I strongly believe that two of Andy’s  signature songs come from this album, his early hits “Daisy” and “Sweet Chariot”.

“Feed me – The third Storm” came in 1991, that is the album that carried the song “Tozarire”. It was a hit that song and the chorus goes “Tozarire Chimhandara tererawo kana vakuru vachitaura, tererawo.” Then my favorite part went “Now you’re sitting there crying, look whats going on. Your mother used to tell you all the time ‘girl dont wear those mini skirts’. But your boyfriend says ‘dont worry figure tennis sinjonjo'” 

Andy took a brief hiatus and relocated to South Africa where he joined the group We Three. Whilst in South Africa, he worked with a lot of South African artists as a session musician before retracing his footsteps back home to Zimbabwe in 1995. On his return, he  relaunched his solo career and was also introduced by Keith Farquharson to 19 year old Chiwoniso Maraire who was later to become Andy’s wife. Andy released one of his best albums to date, an album called “Gondwanaland” an album that carried such hits as “Tichangoshaina” and “Zindoga”. 

In 1996 he released the album “Let The Children Play” that had the song “Tomato Sauce”,  “TOMATO sauce, sauce, sauce sauce, Elizabeth!” The song was a hit locally especially with children and in South Africa where it went up to number 5 in the charts there.

By the year 1997, Andy Brown had put together one of the most formidable lineups to make up his band The Storm, he had Sam Mataure on drums, himself on lead guitar, Ian Hillman on bass guitar, Adam Chisvo on mbira and percussion, Keith Farquharson on keyboards, Chiwoniso Maraire on vocals and mbira with Mwendi Chibindi on backing vocals. That year, Andy released his sixth album called “Tigere”, this is where hits like “Mapurisa”, “Spirit” and “Fiona” come from. Who can ever forget the hit “Mapurisa” was on local radio? Or how “Fiona” was a crowd favorite at live shows? “Fiona, Fiona, what’re you gonna do about our love? Fiona, Fiona, she wants to dance with me.” Then there was that part “Chikidza musana iwe, chikidza musana iwe. Kanda mawoko mudenga iwe”

Personally I believe we experienced the very best of Muzukuru as Andy was affectionately known by his fans when he teamed up with Chiwoniso. Between 1995 and 2001 he gave us some of his best work. he also played a very pivotal role in Chiwoniso’s debut album Ancient Voices, an album that can be described as a Zimbabwean classic and a timeless body of work. 

That year, 1998, Andy released the album “Harare” which had tracks like “Simbi Yarira”, “Kure Kure” which featured Chiwoniso, he also did a remake of his old hit “Tozarire” and also gave us the naughty track and one of my favorites “Muzvambarara” which featured Potato from the same album.

This is also the period we really experienced the heavily traditional sounds of Andy Brown. 

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In 1999 he released Hondo YeSadza which had tracks like “Paradzai wauya”, “Sadza neNyama” and “Pamuromo paHaruna” amongst others. 

At the turn of the millennium, Andy went full on political during the time of political unrest, farm invasions and the rise of opposition politics in Zimbabwe on a level that had not been seen since the 1980 independence. Andy started openly singing for the ruling party ZANU PF and this culminated in the release of the highly politically charged album “Tongogara” in 2001. The title track admonished opposition leaders not to fight for the sacred king’s throne. He co-wrote the songs “Tongogara” and  “Mapfupa Amuka” with Chiwoniso.

Besides the politics, the album Tongogara carried some of Andy’s finest work in tracks like the title track itself, “Mawere Kongonya” here Chi’s voice and influence can be heavily felt on the background vocals. Another great track off that album is “Ndoenda”. 

In the year 2002, at the height of what was called “Hondo yeminda”, Andy then teamed up with long time friend and producer Keith Farquharson and various artists who included Sister Flame, Ihau Le Sizwe, Potato, Trigger and others to form what was called “More Fire Crew” they put out a and album called “Third Chimurenga Series” which had a remark of various ZANU wartime songs like “vaChitepo”.

This political involvement did not do any good to Andy’s musical career. It saw his popularity wane especially in the capital city Harare which was by that time the hotbed of opposition politics in the nation.

In the year 2003 he released the compilation album called “Passage of Time” which carried many of his hits over the years. 

In 2005 he released “Chiedza” with “Chiwoko – Silent Hand” came in 2010 where one of my all time favorite Andy Brown songs “Many Cows” comes from.

Besides his politics and the controversies in his personal and private life, nothing, absolutely nothing can take away from what a star Andy Brown was. Nothing can discount his immense contribution to Zimbabwean music, nothing can silence his infectious lead guitar!

From the days of Ilanga to his early hits “Cool It Babe”, “Daisy”, “Sweet Chariot”, through to “Tozarire”, “Tichangoshaina”, “Fiona” and Mapurisa”. Right to “Shungu”, “Mawere Kongonya”, “Ndoenda” “Kure Kure” and “Tongogara”. Andy Brown deserves a place and mention amongst the heroes of Zimbabwean music. He will forever be a legend.”

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Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE)
A gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.
Truly, for the culture.

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