Why Andy Brown Will Live Forever…

It was the ides of March that robbed Zimbabwe of the peerless talent of Andy Brown.

The late Andy Brown

The late Andy Brown

16 march 2012 was when we got the horrible news that this giant of the music industry and Third Chimurenga had passed away after falling ill.

He wasn’t always the most  likable but what defined him was his honesty and integrity. Brown had things that he lived for and was prepared to do what was necessary to protect them.

Living history might sadly judge him on the basis of his flaws, a tempestuous relationship with the late Chiwoniso Maraire is often mentioned.

But that is the memory of the living and and is tempered with copious amounts of prejudice.

History will speak of a man who was a soundtrack to a nation and spoke in the most authentic way, from the length and breath of its post-independence history. Brown wrote, created and performed songs that put a heartbeat into genres that needed a space. His guitar riff in Alexio’s Shaina and his work on Chiwoniso’s break-out album Ancient Voices (his fingerprints, signature and stamp are all over that classic) come to mind.

Then of course there was his work with Ilanga.

In an interview while with Ilanga, Brown said:

Our audience is from the little boy to the old man, domestic to industrial worker, university student. It is really everybody from different parts of society.

His incredible body of work is testament to that. Brown had playful songs (Tichangoshaina)  as well those that created deep introspection (Tongagara). Can anyone think of a bigger Shona song in Zimbabwe’s Caucasian community than Mapurisa? 

His work with his band The Storm will be dissected and sampled by by the future. Each note was masterfully set to a script, individually as part of a story, one as important as the next.

In that same interview, Brown added:

We felt that we needed to take Zimbabwean music to a higher level  and so so we started to play around with different rhythms of southern Africa and that is how we came up with this sound we call hybrid and it is African made.

This is the reason he will live forever. A man like most artists misunderstood but that took absolutely nothing away from his genius. You may have disagreed with his politics(his unwavering support for land redistribution in Zimbabwe), life choices or whatever, but you could never deny his gift and its application.

So if you are going to have a stiff drink today, have one for the legendary Andy Brown.

Rest in peace, Soko. A father, a brother, a leader, a genius.