Visually impaired but super talented
12 July 2018
. . . John Munodawafa rocks social media
HE may be visually impaired but, armed with a keyboard, John Munodawafa can make a blind man see.
At 22, what he does with a keyboard is impossible for most able bodied people.
His one-minute video performing a rendition of Alick Macheso’s recently released “Ndakakutadzirei?” track off his latest album makes one think he was rehearsing with Baba Shero prior to the release of the album.
And how he mastered almost all the instrumentals using a keyboard is hard to comprehend especially given Macheso only released the song a month ago.
“I did not need a month. Two days after Macheso had released his album, I was done with that song. I can play each guitar on its own as well, one by one. And I can play them combined like I did on that video,” says John.
He had no idea that the video was going to go viral.
“I was just playing Macheso’s song for fun at church in front of people that I teach piano lessons. My friend took my phone and started recording while I had fun hangu.
“If I had known that the recording was going to go places and reach important people, I would have really showcased my real skills. Or if i had a bigger keyboard, haaa kwaifiwa. I can play many of Macheso’s baselines using my elnbows, feet and many other body parts. There were no added instrumentals on that recording.”
John already has an album under his belt whose title track, Ndidzivirei, was number three in the 2017 Coca Cola top 50 competition. And he says all his keyboard and singing skills are self-taught.
“It is all inborn. A gift from God. I cannot tell who taught me the keyboard. I play it so well that people wonder if it’s just the keyboard or there are other instruments backing me.
“When I did the video you are referring to, I had to make sure I used a different key from Macheso’s guitars to show that it was just me playing,” says the partially blind musician.
He says his handicap is quite severe.
“I cannot read any book. However, if I apply the maximum font size on my phone and look really close, I can read messages on my phone.”
John went to Capota and took advantage of the pianos there to hone his skills.
“I could have released an album aged nine had resources permitted.”
And resources – not poor sight – are John’s only real handicap.
“Chandadzawo sponsored me for my only album in 2017. I got some extra help from my church, Reformed Church of Zimbabwe (RCZ). Right now I have nothing to do. I have loads of music in my head and in my fingers and I can start recording another album tomorrow if I could get some money but I am like a prophet in his own town. It is hard for people around me or at church to really appreciate my talent and understand my passion.”
Just US$1000 can see this young man releasing a second album. He insists half of that amount can see him through the recording of the entire album.
But he wishes he could afford Alick Macheso’s former drummer, Obert Gomba.
“If I had money, Obert aindirovera drum. I feel his talent right in my heart.”
John is based in Masvingo but is currently in Bulawayo literally sleeping on his talent.
“I’m in bed. It is so cold here,” he says. “I do not own a personal keyboard as that needs over US$1000 so I wait to go and play the one at church which you saw me using on the video.”
He says he can do renditions of many other Macheso songs among them Madhawu and Sarah. He can also do the same on Jah Prayzah’s music and Oliver Mtukudzi and many dancehall artistes. But he is rarely hired for shows as he cannot afford to market himself.
John can be reached on 0772599303