November 26, 1955
|Relatives||Aaron Chiundura Moyo (brother)|
Jonah Moyo is one of Zimbabwe's legendary musicians whose career stretched from the late 1970s. Moyo, who leads the Devera Ngwena Jazz Band rose to stardom in the early 1980s with hits such as 'Soro naMutsai' and 'Barbra' which topped the charts. He is also considered as the founder of Sungura music genre.
Jonah was born in 1955, second last in a family of five girls and three boys. One of his brothers is the renowned author, Aaron Chiundura Moyo.
Jonah left school in 1971 when his parents separated and mother could not afford to pay the school fees. He then sought and found employment as a house worker on a farm Gwelo (present-day Gweru). In 1975 he moved with his employer to Queque (present-day Kwekwe).
In Queque he became friends with John Tagwira, a general worker for a horse-owner. The two of them discovered they both loved music. They started a band using box guitars and would perform at the local railway station and in bars after work.
In 1976, he left his employer (who was leaving) and moved in with his friend Tagwira.
One day, a friend introduced him to a band which used to play at Garandichauya beer hall in Mbizo Township. He joined the band as a lead guitarist. He was so good that the band manager made him the band-leader. He asked to assemble his own back-up members and he took on Tagwira, a brother's friend called Sora and a guy called Galancha. They became the resident band at the bar.
In early 1977 Jonah and his band members responded to an job advertisement by Gaths Mine in Mashava that was looking for people to do clerical duties but had the unusual required qualification criteria of 'capable musicians'. They all got the jobs and would play after work at the mine's facilities. They played from 1977 to 1979 and during that time became known as Devera Ngwena, but they did not record any music.
In 1979 Jonah approached a harare-based studio called Teal Recording Company and was given a recording date. He gathered a group of musicians at Gathsmine whom he had since met, amoung them Innocent Bitu, Patrick Kabanda (formerly of the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, Johnasi Machinya and Robson Banda. They came to Harare and there recorded the song Devera Ngwena Zhimozhi which became a hit.
The group's music was a fusion of rhumba from Congo, benga from Kenya and mbaqanga from South Africa, blended with traditional mbira-influenced rhythms. This created a unique sound which was different from genres at that time. Moyo soon secured a recording deal with Teal Recording Company and their music was produced by the company's Tony Rivett.
At Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, the band became one of the best and the hit 'Solo na Mutsai' made waves and propelled the group to national stardom. At their peak, the band had the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi and Leonard Dembo to curtain-raising for them.
Jonah Moyo continued to work full time at Gaths Mine where he was promoted to Senior Clerk and continued his academic studies.
Devera Ngwena Jazz Band was became the first group from Zimbabwe to sell music outside the across the boarders including in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi and Swaziland.
The group toured different countries such as Botswana, Mozambique, United Kingdom, Holland, Belgium and Germany. They had shared the stage with internatonal legends such as Ziggy Marley and UB40. Their popularity was not only confined to Zimbabwe,as evidenced by their invitation to perfrm at the Namibian independance day celebrations in 1990.
Jonah's wife passed away in 2008. He has 4 children, Shephard (musician), Cresencia, Jonah Junior and Jarelth.
He has more than 38 albums to his name that include:
- Murikurasika papi
- Devera Ngwena VOL 13
- Wapusa Wapusa
- Devera Ngwena 7
- The Best of Jonah Moyo
- Sugar Bum Bum
- Sold Gold 2
- Devera Ngwena Vol 5
- Live in Musina
- Devera Ngwena Vol 4
- Shango ndilashu vol 6
- Ten Randa Zwikete
- shango ndilashu
- Live at 2010 Center Thohoyandou
- Who ele but Jesus
- Devera Ngwena VOL 1 & 2
- Sold Gold 2
- Solo naMutsai
- The Best Vol 2
- Best of Best
- Mutumbuliwa Zwingondo Vol 35
- Tsava Tsava Vol 26
- The best of Jonah Moyo
- Parade Magazine - January 1985 issue. Page 12-13.
- Jonah Moyo, Jonah Moyo, 'Deverangwena', Retrieved: 11 Apr 2014
- Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena Jazz Band (Zimbabwe), 'Muzzical Trips', Published: ND, Retrieved: 11 Apr 2014
- DEVERA NGWENA’S SAD DEMISE, 'Zim Gov', Published: Jan 2014, Retrieved: 11 Apr 2014