The name is synonymous with many Zimbabweans. James Chimombe was one of the finest vocalists and guitarists that Zimbabwe has ever produced. His contribution to the music business in Zimbabwe was of unparalleled magnitude.
He made a record, by being the first Zimbabwean to study and teach music as a discipline. He was actively involved in Ethnomusicology at the Zimbabwe College of Music. It was his way of giving back to the community by teaching the youngsters all about music. He was also a director of the Zimbabwe Musicians Rights Association, which ensures composers are paid their royalties and that their works are protected by enforcing copyright laws.
Chimombe started his career while attending a school in Highfield and this is where he first learned to play the guitar. To gain more experience and to hon his career, he joined the Pop Settlers band as a vocalist with the Harare Mambos. He also played with the Acid Band, the Ocean City Band, Huchi Band and the OK Success. It was with the latter that his talent was first discovered when he wrote “George Mudiwa” for the band in the 1970s. However, credit was given to the whole band rather than the individual.
The band instantly became popular and started playing in nightclubs and was contracted to perform at Mushandira Pamwe Hotel in Highfield for nearly three years before Chimombe decided to form his own band. Apart from the afore mentioned bands, he also spent a considerable amount of time playing with a rhumba outfit, the Real Sounds of Africa band since his music was at first inclined towards rhumba. In 1982 he released his first single, ‘Chigwaya’ which became an instant hit.
The following year he joined an already existing band, The Ocean City Band, as lead vocalist and guitarist. It is reported that this combination proved to be the peak of Chimombe as most of his hits songs such as ‘Cecilia’, ‘Siya Waoneka’, ‘Mavanga’ and ‘Jikinya’ were recorded with this group. He later left the band in 1988, to form his own ‘Huchi Band’ with whom he recorded two albums.