Mkhululi Ncube, Showbiz Reporter
The English great playwright William Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night’s famous opening line “If music be the food of love, play on . . .” best sums up the love story of contemporary gospel musician Everton Mlalazi and his wife Gamuchirai who could not have been together were it not for music.
Everton’s bag of tricks to gain Gamuchirai’s attention some 17 years back seemed to be hitting a brick wall until he took to the stage to sing and his melodious voice broke all the resistance from his beautiful wife-to-be.
The memory of love-struck Mlalazi on that day remains embedded in Gamuchirai’s mind that she has a vivid memory of the clothes he was wearing when he sang his heart out, either to praise God or to woo her.
“I love music and used to sing a lot in church when I was at university in South Africa.
But when I tell my friends that I used to sing in church, they don’t believe me.
Music is what attracted me to my husband because for long, he had been trying to reach out to me in many ways, even on the phone, but I wouldn’t respond,” said Gamuchirai during their visit in Bulawayo last weekend.
“This other day, we were in church and he came to greet me, but I didn’t respond.
He then went on stage and sang.
As I watched him sing, I remember saying to myself, ‘hmm this guy’.
His music spoke to me.
I still remember he was wearing a burgundy shirt and as they say, the rest is history.
“This was around end of 2005 to 2006 and by end of 2008, we got married.
It’s been an amazing journey,” said Mlalazi’s wife adding that she likes how her husband expresses himself through music.
“Due to our love for music, our children also started experiencing music from a young age.”
While many a times, women who play the proverbial “crew behind the scenes” role are easily forgotten, it is difficult to relegate Gamuchirai, a businesswoman in her own right who owns RHI media company, a company that was behind Everton Mlalazi’s Homecoming concert.
The concert that was staged at the ZITF Hall 4 had international standards, something that was made possible by Gamuchirai and crew.
Gamuchirai is also Mlalazi’s manager.
She said music runs in the Mlalazi vocal chords and believes her father-in-law, Enoch Mlalazi is the one who passed on the music genes to Everton, his siblings and daughters.
Years after the two married, music remains the thread that binds them and in the process, transmitting it to their two daughters, with the eldest already a keyboard player.
Not keen to take much credit for the top class event that they staged in the city and attracted thousands of gospel music lovers, Gamuchirai smiled as if to change the subject when asked how they pulled off the event.
Instead, she preferred talking about the fears she had of people not turning up in their numbers due to the unkind weather that had been prevailing in Bulawayo.
She judged this by the leisurely response they were getting on the registration platform they had set up for the event.
Since the event was free of charge, they set up an online platform where people were supposed to register so as to get tickets.
However, not many registered, perhaps showing that music lovers in the country, just like soccer fans, have not grasped the concept of getting tickets in advance for events.
“It was overwhelming and teary to see the numbers that came through and having people stay till the last performance of the show was humbling.
We’re excited that we came home — this is where we belong, because as a family, we’re actually on a venture to discover our roots and culture.
“So it was exciting that we came home.
Charity begins at home and we need to invest at home by bringing every talent that comes from here to work together as a team.
With unity, we can do bigger and greater things,” said the soft-spoken Gamuchirai.
Harare-based Mlalazi who hails from Mathe Village, Nyamandlovu calls Bulawayo home.
The couple’s love for music has seen them attending South African gospel concerts which gave birth to the idea of hosting their own “big event” back home.
It seems they did not leave anything to chance in making sure that people from Bulawayo who are on speed with what happens in Mzansi, do not see any disparities with their event and what they see in Mzansi.
“We’ve always travelled to Mzansi whenever they have concerts, be it Benjamin Dube, or whichever artiste.
We’ve seen the way they do things and we love Joyous Celebration.
We always follow them and go and watch how they do things.
“I love the unity in what they do.
They do their things together using same backing vocalists and band for all the artistes.
That’s the idea we had of having all the people who are in gospel music come together on one stage and maybe, have a little fee to pay for one to be part of the event.
“It’s always been a dream and I’m glad we pulled it off here at home.
And because it was a birthday, it had to be free,” she said.
Mrs Mlalazi said she was humbled by the support which came from all age groups and hailed her team for making sure that the dream was fulfilled.
She said plans are already underway to make the concert an annual event, even though they may change the month and time of the day it is held.
The inaugural event was held in the evening making it a bit challenging to have children attend.
Everton said the event became successful due to the work put in by his wife, team and sponsors who bought into the vision of the Everton Mlalazi Homecoming show.
“A lot of work was put in by my wife through RHI Media.
The show was hosted and managed by them alongside Saimon Mambazo and Sibukele Maphosa whom they roped in.
Many other service providers from Bulawayo were also part of the action.
“I was impressed as everything was flawless and the team did a wonderful job as the event was classy,” nodded Mlalazi in satisfaction.
From growing up herding cattle in rural areas, Mlalazi said music has opened many doors for him which have transformed his life for the better.
He said he is grateful for the experience of growing up in the rural areas as it toughened him to face any situation in life, an experience that he is applying in his career.
Besides music, Mlalazi is a financial analyst who does financial advisory work for many companies, some which supported the homecoming show.
“Before Covid-19, I used to sing in church for many years with a number of groups.
My solo career was birthed during the lockdown as I spent more time at home and did a lot of songwriting.
I then asked other people to do instruments and vocals from wherever they were and we put everything together.
That’s the reason why 2020 was my breakthrough year,” he said.
Last year, he released an album titled In the Presence.
His song, Ndokutevera whose music video was released this week is on the Skyz Metro FM Gospel Top 10 chart.
A family man, Mlalazi said he loves traditional food and is the family chef every Saturday evening.
“I did stay as a bachelor before I got married so I can cook, but here and there, I sometimes take the family out to avoid cooking.
I have a busy schedule in terms of work, but my wife manages everything well.
She’s a vital backbone of what I’m doing.
“Every morning, I take my daughters to school and that’s the time I connect with them.
They both love music,” he said.