Published in The Herald on the 7th of May 2013.
Constance van Niekerk in Vereeniging,South Africa
“Roy and Royce are still very much alive,” were the first words uttered by Roy Gomo, the other half of Zimbabwe’s sensational twin singing duo — Roy and Royce.
The twins rocked the country in 2002 with their instant hit which reached number one on the Zimbabwean music charts, “Handirege” (which is available on YouTube and as a mobile phone ringtone!) long before the Diaspora rage and, indeed, the duo is alive and kicking and on the verge of making a comeback just like what their song says, “kudzoka haverege”.
“We started singing and writing songs quite early on. The earliest song I recall writing was when we were somewhere around Grade Four,” said Roy, adding: “There have been tonnes of songs written, some already forgotten.”
Roy and Royce attended Gokomere High School from Form 1 to 4 where they attended music lessons as part of the school curriculum. Roy talks about his days at Gokomere with nostalgia.
“While at school, we became friends with a group of guys that also had a keen interest in music. We had a healthy ongoing competition on who would come up with the next good song. We also had our music teacher, the late sister De Pace, who had a large set of instruments that taught us some of the basics in music.
“We would all meet up in one of her music rooms to record songs using one of those old ‘international’ radios. That was the time we perhaps grew in our song writing and singing.”
After secondary school, Roy went on to A-Level at Chaplin High School while Royce went to Fletcher High School, both in Gweru.
This marked the twins’ first separation. After A-Level, Roy joined the National University of Science & Technology in Bulawayo, while Royce went to the University of Zimbabwe in Harare. They both graduated with Science degrees, Roy in computers and Royce in medical laboratory.
Roy and Royce reignited their romance with music during their university years. They formed a group called ROMIRO with a guy called Misheck Chikaka who was studying Medical Laboratory Sciences with Royce. The group’s name was derived from a fusion of the three’s first names. Unfortunately, this was short-lived.
“Misheck decided to go for a full on medical degree after graduating so he couldn’t do music anymore, leaving just Royce and I to carry on,” elaborated Roy.
“Unfortunately, Misheck passed away a few years ago in a traffic accident, but he was a big supporter and well-needed critic of our work,” said Roy.
The journey to stardom was not easy, but the twins were resilient.
“We moved from one studio to another trying to get our demo-tape heard,” said Royce.
The twins did not give up as one studio after the other turned them down. As luck shines on the tired, they eventually met Alexio Kawara, who introduced them to Delani Makhalima of Galaxy Entertainment who agreed to sign them on to his label.
The twins’ first album was “Gogogoi”, a Shona word that means “knock knock” — a title befitting for their first album as they were literally knocking on the music world’s door. It is a 12-track album released in 2002 from which hits such as the title track, “Handirege”, a song that featured
“Maddflava”, “Ndomurasirei Jesu”, “Ndochema”, “Muroora Waamai”, “Ndotamba Nani”, “Ndoda” and “Zuva Rangu” among others.
In 2003, Roy and Royce recorded another successful album, “Tenda”, under their own Twin Peaks record label. “Tenda” is a 10-track which was even more successful than their first and had songs which include the title track “Pafunge”, “Ndiyambuke”, “Ndazvipira”, “Uya Utambe”, “Baba” and
“Ndichakuwana” among others. Roy and Royce proved through their music how extraordinarily talented they are. After the release of “Tenda”, Roy and Royce started a project called “New Discoveries” in 2004 where they promoted upcoming artistes.
“We did a compilation album of young artistes that we sponsored through our record label Twin Peaks. Under this project, we debuted Knox with the song ‘Iwe Maria’. We also produced 2two albums for Tambudzayi.”
In 2003, Tambudzayi released “Paita Nyaya” an eight- track album produced by Roy and Royce. In 2005, she released “Nyarara Zvako”, a 10-track album – another Twin Peaks Production.
The title track featured Roy and Royce. The album produced the hits “Zuva Riye”, “Jesu Ndiye Ishe”, “Varegerereyi”, “Respect” and “Pandimire”.
The twins’ third album is “Ndimi” released in 2005. It is a 14-track album and is different from its predecessors as there are two songs with English titles: “I Go Crazy” and “I Know”.
The twins separated once again. “Royce spent a few years in Namibia between 2005 and 2009 before deciding to move back to Zimbabwe where he is currently based and I have been living in South Africa since 2005 until now,” said Roy.
However, Roy and Royce are not yet out of the game. They might live in different countries now but their romance with music is far from over.
Although they have not been on the headlines of the music scene for several years now, the twins still write songs and still have plans to go into the studio quite soon.
“We are still writing songs and have recorded a number of demo tracks over the last few years but, due to a lot of external influences we’ve had to postpone recording an album.
“We believe that our lives are somewhat stable now and we are pushing to go into the studio sometime this year to start working on an album. We are still finalising logistics but it looks like we’ll record the bulk of the album in Zimbabwe. We want to keep it home-grown as much as we can,” said Roy.
The Zimbabwean music scene has never been the same without the talented Roy and Royce. The twins are some of the pioneers of the urban grooves genre.
They are undoubtedly among the best artistes in the country, in a class of their own with superb singing and song writing abilities. If people can be born with music in their blood, then this sensational twin singing duo were indeed born with music in their blood.
Constance van Niekerk can be contacted via email on firstname.lastname@example.org