King Isaac
King Issac Signing Autographs.jpg
BornIsaac Gabriel Kalumbu
EducationUniversity of Zimbabwe
Alma materIndiana University.
OccupationAcademic; Musician
Known forFirst Zimbabwean artiste to be nominated for the Grammys in 2010

King Isaac is a reggae singer, songwriter and a professor of Ethnomusicology at Michigan State University, USA. As a lyricist, he writes catchy and meaningful love songs of outstanding quality. He is a deep and thoughtful songwriter, and this is reflected in the passionate and engaging lyrics in his songs. King Isaac delivers his music with a warm and powerful voice. His music also promotes the pursuit of peaceable living amongst the various peoples of the world.


King Isaac was born Isaac Gabriel Kalumbu in Harare, Zimbabwe. He started writing poems at the age of 14. At about the same time, the censorship of reggae was lifted in Zimbabwe when the nation attained independence in 1980. Subsequent visits to Zimbabwe by reggae stars such as Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown helped to fuel King Isaac's love for reggae music. The young poet soon turned to writing lyrics for songs, and by the mid to late 1980's, he was singing in local reggae bands. In 1986 he recorded his first song, "Simuka," a reggae piece about the liberation struggle in South Africa.


He studied at the University of Zimbabwe and earned a Bachelor's degree in Economic History and History. In January 1991, King Isaac left Zimbabwe to study at Indiana University in Bloomington, USA and he received an MA in ethnomusicology. In 1997 he was appointed to the faculty at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. His continuing graduate education culminated in his earning a Ph.D. in Folklore/Ethnomusicology in 1999 from Indiana University.



King Isaac reached a milestone in his singing career when reggae music promoter Gwen Clemens introduced him to Leroy Sibbles, for whom he opened up shows in 1998 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. That same year he embarked on his first pilgrimage to reggae's Mecca, Kingston, Jamaica to make his first recordings there, thus fulfilling a long-held dream. Since then, King Isaac has visited Jamaica at least once a year. Between 1999 and 2001, veteran bassist Danny "Axeman" Thompson and King Isaac collaborated on the King's self titled debut album, which was released in Zimbabwe in 2002. Riding on the success of his first album, King Isaac recorded a new album that was released in Zimbabwe in 2004. This album, Munokokwa Mese, was recorded mostly in Zimbabwe and featured a mixture of various Southern African musical styles and reggae; sung in the local Shona and Ndebele languages, and English.

In December 2004, King Isaac was invited by veteran singer Sugar Minott to perform at Minott's annual, "Reggae in The Hills" concert where he wowed the crowd with his powerful vocal delivery and stage charisma. This crowd response was rewarding and reassuring. In October 2005, he returned to Jamaica to deliver a paper on the contribution of Peter Tosh to the Southern African liberation struggle at the University of the West Indies, and to perform at the international annual Peter Tosh Commemoration Concert in Kingston. Both appearances were received with great appreciation and support. In the summers of 2005 and 2006, King Isaac traveled to Kingston Jamaica, where he worked with many veteran reggae artists, including Gregory Isaacs, Dean Fraser and the legendary U Roy. These recordings culminated in King Isaac's third album, Legends of Reggae Present King Isaac, which contains a special appearance by South Africa's royal ladies of song, the Mahotella Queens. This album was followed in 2008 by his CD, Love Of All Senses; a well-crafted masterpiece containing catchy, unforgettable songs that showcase the singer's profound lyrical genius, solid vocal delivery, and the outstanding musical arrangements of producer Glen Ricks. The album was recorded in Jamaica and Canada between 2006 and 2008. A video of the song, Domestic Violence from this album, was recorded in summer of 2008 in Kingston, Jamaica and is being broadcast on Jamaican television stations.

The first Zimbabwean Grammy nominated singer/songwriter released his sixth album entitled Makuwerere (King Isaac’s Coat of Many Colours) in 2019, which reflects the university lecturer’s musical journey. Recorded in three countries – Jamaica, USA and Zimbabwe – King Isaac’s offering is also a celebration of the singer/crooner’s achievements as a musician, pastor and mentor. The album carries 10 tracks of superior quality namely Wachema Muroora, Singing Glory, Chenai, Zveupenyu, I know, Nyimai Satan, Sandinyore, Celebration and the title track Makuwerere. Celebrated Jamaican producer Leroy Sibbles and former Monolio Studios’ boss Mono Mukundu and King Isaac are the three producers behind this project.[1]


He is a Michigan Michigan University (Ethnomusicology) lecturer and administrator. If it’s not about music recordings, the 54-year-old would be teaching at West Indies University Campus where he is a darling of many international students.


He was the first Zimbabwean artiste to be nominated for the Grammys in 2010 when his album Isaac Meets Isaac, which he collaborated with Gregory Isaacs was considered for the best reggae album of 2010.


  • King Isaac,
  • Munokokwa Mese,
  • Legends of Reggae presents King Isaac,
  • Isaac Meets Isaac and
  • Let Her Go
  • Makuwerere

Picture Gallery

King Isaac
King Issac Signing Autographs



  1. [1], H-Metro, Published: 7 January, 2019, Accessed: 22 July, 2020