When Bulawayo-based songstress, Amanda Nkomo, spent years as a backing vocalist for top Zimbabwean gospel acts, the thought of recording her own music was only but a dream.
While she exuded infectious energy on stage which caught the eye of musicians like Takesure Zamar Ncube, Joyous Celebration founder, Lindelani Mkhize, Solly Mahlangu and many others, Nkomo felt she was not ready to take the great leap of faith to a solo career.
Having begun her musical career at Music Crossroads, where her group went all the way to the final in 2007 and leading praise in Harvest House International youth choir, Hossana, Amanda dreamt of the day she would release her own music.
Although it has taken years of honing musical skills in the background, Amanda, who is popularly known as AmandaGrace, released her seven-track album last week, to the thrill of her followers who had waited in anticipation.
The album, Under Grace, is a culmination of bruising moments on the music scene, where the musician had a fair share of ups and downs.
“I started my singing career in a band which made it to the Music Crossroads finals in Harare 2007,” said Amanda. “That is when singing went beyond a thing I did in school or church. When I became a member of Harvest House International Church, I joined the youth choir not knowing that’s where God was taking me.”
Comfortable working as a backing vocalist, Amanda envisaged a future as a professional back-up singer, which she did with excellence, featuring on Takesure Zamar Ncube’s live DVD in South Africa, twice on Richard Chimbetete’s projects and working with Lolly Stot Maplanka.
“The plan was not to be a recording artiste, but a professional backing vocalist, both studio and live music. For some reason I was confident as a person, exuding much energy on stage, but just not happy about how my voice sounded.
“It took me years to find my sound, my genre, my voice and be comfortable with it.”
In 2019, Amanda had her first shot at a solo career, with the song Ngithembe Wena, produced by McDonald Chidavaenzi at Eternity Productions.
This would give her a glimpse of what was to come.
The song has enjoyed good airplay on national radio and Trace Gospel.
Amanda is grateful to her church for honing her musical skills through the Harvest House Clash of Choirs.
While the Covid-19 lockdown was a torrid time for others, Amanda was working on her latest offering.
“When the lockdown started in March last year, the uncertainty and literal lockdown made me write. I had a yearning for God. It hit harder how God is all I have. That deep thirst is what inspired the album.”
Her debut album was released on her birthday last week. It is a mixed bag of different genres which speaks to Amanda’s colourful persona.
From ballads, soft rock, sungura to South African-styled gospel, Amanda takes her listeners on a musical journey.
The stand out track, “Ewe” is an easy sing-along tune which could have any crowd grooving.
Sungura song, “Shoko”, featuring US-based former Zimpraise lead singer Wencelus Makungisa is an absolute jam which is expected to do well on local radio, while “I Thirst For You”, which features Sam Siwela is a soothing track that is also anticipated to get worshippers reconnect with the maker.
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Amanda dished out the album for the first time to her growing fan base on Facebook Live, attracting over 500 viewers watching and dozens of shares.
The following morning, the launch already had thousands of views, thanks to dozens of shares from her adoring fans.
On backing vocals, she worked with Mimie Tarukwana, Rebecca Hlongwane, Nomakhwezi Tshabalala, Nigel Nyamweda and Absalom Ndlovu.
The evergreen Outfit band provided back up instruments, while Tiyelani Chauke, popularly known as Tyce Keys produced the album.
“In trying times and seasons of uncertainty like the ones we live in; every man and woman must desire a n encounter with God,” said Amanda.
“This is what this album is about, a God encounter, and because we are under His grace, we can come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy in time of need.”