BEHIND a celebrity’s public image and fame, a supportive spouse always lurks in the shadows. Many people might have a pre-conceived idea about what it takes to be a wife of a celebrity. A celebrity’ spouse needs to be understanding, be able to distinguish what the new status brings and be supportive. Away from the spotlight, there exists a complex and challenging reality that only the brave can understand. NewsDay Weekender recently caught up with Spiwe Ndlovu, wife to award-winning jazz musician Josh Meck. She shares the nuggets of being the celebrity’s wife .
How I met Josh is really quite an interesting story that makes many laugh about it. I was at Mabelreign Girls High in Harare, doing my Ordinary Level (Form Three) and Josh was at Ellis Robins School doing his Form Four before he later moved to Prince Edward for his Advanced Level. I used to go to church with three of his best friends, Ernest, Gabriel and Josh. So, Josh came to know me through Gabriel. At first Ernest was the one who wanted to be my boyfriend, so he asked Josh to talk to me because he had the guts. Ernest was really a shy guy, so when Josh came, he did not present Ernest’s case to me, but he actually came after me. When I found out, we were already dating, but they remained friends anyway.
Accepting Meck’s celebrity status
Josh has always been a musician and I knew that and accepted that if things go exactly as he had planned, he would certainly become a musician and a celebrity in the future. His career started in high school at Prince Edward when he was playing guitar for Prince Mafukidze, Dudu Manhenga, Victor Kunonga and Pastor G. He would go on tours with all these people.
Although Josh was also studying accounts, I thought he was going to balance music and accounting to become an accountant. I am also a musician, I love music. I used to sing a lot in church and I still sing in church. So, it was not really hard for me to accept him because for me it’s a plus as I also love music.
Getting married and the children
We got married in 2003 and it’s now 20 years of marriage. We have three children, our first-born Natasha (19) plays mbira and loves chemical engineering, Bradley (15) loves soccer and animals, then there is Josh Junior (2) named after his father. Just like his father, he loves music, drums and keyboard. We have a studio at home, he (Josh Junior) is always in the studio listening to music and his father’s songs. He knows them by heart.
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Drawing a line between music and marriage
At one point I was her manager. At first it was really hard for me to distinguish his work and our relationship, maybe because I was young. I could not understand most of the things that happened in line with his work. Everything would affect me, even ladies screaming at him at shows to me it was his fault.
I would ask, why are they screaming at you? A lot of incidents happened where I was really uncomfortable, but with time together and seeing other celebrity wives, I got to accept that this is a career for him and this is where our finances come from.
I needed to accept and reflect that this is actually work, so I had to put a boundary between my emotions and his line of work. There will always be fans and those people that you don’t really want to see around him. I needed to accept that he is with me because he loves me and chose me, so all this is just part of his job.
Whether he is going on a tour or doing collaborations with female musicians, it does not trigger me anymore because I treat it as all work. As long as I accept that it is work, I do not mind who he works with.
The impact is the same because what we want are the results, his name out there and his songs played. If I am that jealous wife who is always complaining about his career, he will not grow because he would only be limited to those whom he works with.
With time and experience, I came to accept that music is a career and I must leave whatever happens there to where it belongs. At home we are different people, husband and wife as well as mother and father to our kids.
We have a studio at home, so Josh will be just a few walks from me. Normally most of the times we do a Bible study taking turns to share the word, sing together, pray and watch soapies from 7pm to around 8:30pm.
We also watch soccer matches and other games he likes to watch. We do that together for him. We go together to his shows sometimes, when he has got afternoon shows we go as a family and evening shows sometimes, we go just the two of us. He is a loving daddy, he takes his children out, Josh Junior and Bradley to soccer matches.
Safeguarding the girl child
I told Natasha that before dating anyone, for a guy not to take advantage of you, you need to do certain things with your daddy. He has to be your first boyfriend. So, he takes her out for dinner, lunch and even spar treatments.
Josh wants her daughter to experience these things in case someone comes and offers to do so and the next thing she is impregnated. So, that is how we try to manage everything for our daughter. The kids do understand their dad’s hectic schedule, they were born in it. When he goes away, they just know he will come back and he always comes back.
Sometimes I support my husband financially when things are not well with his music. I used to sing in his band and I became his manager at some point. Now I make sure that when he goes out, he is well-dressed, he eats well, so I try all my best to put everything in order. I try not to nag him or look at everything he does and give him stress when he is working.
Dealing with band demands
Sometimes as a human being you are obviously affected by certain things, for example when he has got female backing vocalists that he is working with. Sometimes the females would want to be treated as special and given favours, but music is work and whether male or female, people need to be treated the same.
I communicated to him and at first, he did not understand, he thought maybe I was interfering and I must not do that. Sometimes people take advantage and won’t do work properly because they want to be treated differently from others. Now he understands where I was coming from.
As a couple we cannot really say we have managed to stay out of scandals. A few years ago, there was a story in a local tabloid. I don’t know how journalists came to know of that, it was not really true. He had a photoshoot with an almost half-naked model, he wanted to do an album sleeve. In the paper it was written that I didnot approve of it and I was jealous. When I came to work, my boss said, “you are now in the papers and I did not even know about it.” So, these are some of the things that come with being a celebrity, there is a lot of drama.
Prayer as a weapon
Mostly in everything I do, I turn to God first and pray about everything. When you pray to God to handle your career, work, or marriage everything just goes smoothly. Whenever I feel like I can’t take something, I simply go into my closet and pray.
When I come out, I will be feeling okay. There are certain things that you do not need to address like I want you to behave like this or dress like this, thingslike that. People will start to avoid you and will not tell you because you don’t understand.
It is best to let God handle everything for you, the person, life, and everything. He is the maker of us after all. If He wants to change someone, He will.
I cannot say I have friends. During the week I am at work, of course I interact with colleagues, over the weekend I am at home doing whatever needs to be done and go to church on Sunday. I do not really have a social life. It is something that I have to work on, maybe find friends that I can hang out with. I have a few that I get along with. I have built a relationship with Selmor Mtukudzi, Ruth Mbangwa and Hope Masike.
Dealing with potential insecurities
I cannot really say there has been competition, of course there are women who would throw themselves at him (Josh). Celebrities are always a target. I have never had anyone trying to take me away from my spot as his wife. So, whether they get entertained wherever they are, I remain his wife.