Ilanga formed in 1986, fronted by singer Comrade Chinx and guitarist Andy Brown, formerly of the band Rusike.
Ilanga burned bright for three years,
their blend of Shona, Ndebele and Western sounds proved very popular in Zimbabwe – lots of keyboards and a strong bassline. “Visions Foretold” (1987) was their first album and quickly led to favourable comparisons with South Africa’s Ray Phiri and Stimela – another hybrid of traditional and jazz.
While Ray Phiri had to 'whisper in the deep' at the time, Ilanga could defy apartheid South Africa openly; as in the track "Botha" .. 'Botha, what you gonna do when Azania is free … you just have to jump into the sea … time is running out for you … where you gonna run, where you gonna hide …".
Although they were only together for three years they produced two critically acclaimed albums, with their crowning moment being their participation in the 1988 Human Rights Concert in Harare which featured such superstars as Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Youssou N'Dour, and the Bhundu Boys. Hit songs included True Love and Shosholoza.
Eventually, cracks formed under conflict between guitarist Don Gumbo and lead singer Andy Brown. When Andy Brown left to form his own band in 1989, the Storm, Ilanga continued playing with Busi Ncube as their main vocalist. The 1989 release Women of Africa: Busi Ncube was recorded with Ilanga backing her up.
However, the band has since disbanded. Andy Brown and the Storm have found success at home and abroad.
Former keyboardist and all round music guru Keith Farquharson went on to be musical director of the acclaimed Zimbabwean film Everyone's Child as well as developing Shed recording studios as well as Now Around The World. He has since collaborated with Chiwoniso Maraire on the album Rebel Woman which garnered much critical acclaim and topped the Itunes world music charts. Farquharson still produces, mixes and engineers in Cape Town, mainly in a long standing collaboration with the South African band Freshly Ground. He has recently finished work on Oliver Mtukudzi's latest album.
Chinx pursued a multitude of career options. Shortly after leaving Ilanga he pursued a solo career. He has also acted in films (1996's Flame), as well as writing the score for the 1989 South African documentary Limpopo Line. Backed by the Police Band, he has recently performed and recorded songs for the Zimbabwean government, becoming part of the Mugabe propaganda campaign along with former band mate Andy Brown.
Plans were announced to re-form the group, without Gumbo and Farquharson, in November 2003.
Comrade Chinx (B: Dick Chingaira Makoni; vocals)
Andy Brown (guitar, vocals)
Busi Ncube (vocals, percussion)
Keith Farquharson (keyboards)
Don Gumbo (bass)
Gibson Batishta (drums)
Adam Chisvo (percussion)
Munya Brown, Gibson Nyomi, and Virgillio Ignacia
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