Cool Crooners frontman Abel Sithole passes away

The death last Saturday of Abel Sinwametsi Sithole, one of the exponents of Zimbabwean music, cast a pall over a city that was still euphoric over the trumphant hosting of the Bulawayo Arts Awards on the previous night. On Saturday morning, aged 81, the crooner died at Mpilo Central Hospital.

By Admire Kudita

The late Abel Sinwametsi Sithole

The late Abel Sinwametsi Sithole

Sithole is a music legend and his death is coming soon after the tragic and premature death of another singer and fellow freedom fighter Chinx. As it happens, Sithole was one of the singers that joined the war effort on the Zipra side. His contribution was no less.

Mourners are gathered at Soshangani Flats in Nguboyenja and he will likely be buried on Friday.

Sithole joined the Golden Rhythm Crooners in 1956, five years after the group had been formed by Steven Gadlula.

Along the likes of George Madondo, Timothy Salani and Champion Banda they were on an entertainment circuit that featured the Da Black Evening Follies and Safirio Madzikatire as solo singer on guitar. This was the age of the Sonny Sondos and early divas such as Faith Dauti, Susan Chenjerai and Dorothy Masuka who regularly sang with the group.

An anecdotal story reported to blogger Tapfumaneyi Chirikure has Dorothy Masuka stealing a then substantial 75 pounds before making her way to South Africa.

The rest of her story is the stuff of legend.

But members of Golden Rhythm Crooners and another vocal group, the Cool Four, merged to form the Cool Crooners.

The group’s most famous hit is undoubtedly the popular hit Ibhulugwe Lami. The song was featured on their Blue Sky album which they did under former manager Jacki Cahi’s leadership. They did not have a very rosy separation with her though they had toured Europe, mainly France.

They somehow did not make much from that liaison.

If ever there were artistes who were exultant on stage, it was the Cool Crooners and their choreography put many young artistes to shame. The Cool Crooners were intergral to the Zimbabwe National Jazz Festival and the Winter Jazz Festival for many years.

His passing is a loss to the arts community of Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, here is the full list of winners of the Bulawayo Arts Awards:

Song of the Year

Ngamnanka uSaMamoe by Madlela Skhobokhobo

Outstanding male artiste
Mgcini Calvin Nhliziyo aka CAL _VIN

Outstanding female artiste
Sandra Ndebele

Outstanding newcomer of the year
Madlela Skhobokhobo

Outstanding Tshibilika/Rhumba
Clement Magwaza

Outstanding alternative music
Jeys Marabini

Outstanding hip/hop artiste/act
Calvin Mgcini nhliziyo (CAL_VIN)

Outstanding Gospel Artiste/act
Lorraine Maplanka stot

Outstanding Actress (schools)
Anita Moyo (Eveline High)

Outstanding actor (schools)
Nobert Makoche (Gifford High)

Outstanding arts educator
Thabani H. Moyo

Outstanding school artes effort
Mzilikazi High School

Outstanding Visual Artiste
Israel Israel

Outstanding Video Director
Vusa Blaqs

Outstanding Online Media House
Urban Culxure

Outstanding Arts Photographer
Mgcini Nyoni

Outstanding Comedian
Ntando Van Moyo

Outstanding Poet
Tinashe Tafirenyika

Outstanding Literary Work
Mars, his sword by Philani A. Nyoni

Outstanding Arts Journalist
Bruce Ndlovu of Bmetro

Outstanding Media House
Skyz Metro FM

Outstanding Contemporary Dance Ensemble
Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts (Iyasa)

Outstanding traditional dance ensemble
Umkhathi Theatre Works

Outstanding Female Dancer
Dadirai Mpandawana (Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble)

Outstanding male Dancer
Mbongeni Nxumalo (IYASA)

Outstanding model
Shadel Noble

Outstanding Designer
Dube Surprise & Bukhosi Ndlovu Aka Brandroom

Outstanding film actress
Donna Ncube Aka Donna N – The Lost Letter

Outstanding Film Actor
Mothusi Ndlovu Aka Madlela

Outstanding film
The Arthur Evans Show

Outstanding Theatre Actress
Tsitsi Gumbo –Untikolotshe

Outstanding Theatre Actor
Gift Chakuvinga – Double Funeral

Outstanding Theatre Production
Joseph and the Coat of Many Colours

Outstanding Ambassador (South Africa)
Oskido

Outstanding Ambassador (Global)
Mokoomba

Outstanding Arts Supporter
Delta Beverages

Life Achievement Award
Cont Mhlanga

Outstanding DJ
Phathisani Sibanda, Star FM

Outstanding Kwaito/House
Mqondisi Sibanda aka Skaiva

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