INTERVIEW: Kudzie G Phiri
The impact and allure of Gospel music or ‘Kingdom’ music is no longer centralized to America but is rather a global phenomenon. From Japan to Jamaica, from the United Kingdom to the United Emirates, faith-based music is growing in popularity and familiarity abroad, particularly in developing nations in the Eastern and Southern hemisphere. China, Brazil, Nepal and Korea are all experiencing a renaissance in Christianity.
Another area of the world that’s witnessing exponential growth and interest in the ‘Gospel’ is the continent of Africa. Countries like Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin are having an explosion of converts to Christ. One country that is firmly rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is Zimbabwe, the birthplace for one of the nation’s leading Gospel recording artists and worship leaders, Kudzie G Phiri & The New Wind. Her new album – I Am Kingdom – is an expression of both avid faith and musical influences that cover the two Christian continents. BlackGospel.com spoke with this beautiful and blessed worship leader about her faith, her rich musical voice and her birthplace.
Christopher Heron: Let’s begin with your beautiful country, Zimbabwe. Tell us 2 or 3 things every American should know about Harare and the rest of your nation.
Kudzie G Phiri: Zimbabwe is a very beautiful country with great weather, our people are quite pleasant, resilient and intellectual. Our nation is predominantly Christian with different denominations represented.
Christopher Heron: Most North Americans would be surprised to know that Christianity is the dominant religion in Zimbabwe. Tell us a little about how Christianity and evangelism is flourishing in your country and which prominent North American evangelists and Gospel artists have recently been to Zimbabwe and impacted the nation.
Kudzie G Phiri: Really wow. Zimbabwe has a percentage rate of about 70-80% Christian, we have great African voices like our Bishop Tudor Bismark, and other great men such as Archbishop Ezekiel Guti, Apostle Langton Gatsi just to mention a few that emerged out of Zimbabwe impacting the world over. For as long as I have known Christianity and evangelism has always been thriving in Zimbabwe and ever on a rise with thousands upon thousands gathering to hear the likes of Reinhard Bonnke, Benny Hinn, Morris Cerrulo, Kenneth Copeland and Ron Kenoly. Artists like Donnie Mcclurkin, Israel Houghton, Marvin Winans, Deitrick Haddon, Kirk Franklin, Bishop Charles Blake and Micah Stampley have left indelible marks in our nation.
Christopher Heron: Who were some of the artists you listened to growing up and were inspired and blessed by, as your calling to ministry grew stronger?
Kudzie G Phiri: Growing up, I listened to a variety of artists. They have all impacted my life one way or the other. That is either in the way I write, or hear music or worship. These artists ranging from Darlene Zschech (and what I call the original Hillsong team which had the likes of Miriam Webster, Reuben Morgan etc), Kent Henry, Kurt Carr,Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Bob Fitts, Juanita Bynum, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Karen Clark Sheard, The Clark Sisters, Donald Lawrence, Donnie Mcclurkin, Fred Hammond, the late Andrae Crouch, Marvin Winans,Kim Burrell, Israel Houghton, Martha Munizzi, Mary Alessi, Tamela Mann, Twinkie Clark, Dorinda Clark Cole, Judith McAllister and Judy Jacobs.
In the pull of all these great artists there are specific ones that have in a way shaped my interpretation of gospel music so much that my playlists will always have their music on rotation: Judith McAllister, Karen Clark Sheard, Kim Burrell, Donald Lawrence, The Clark Sisters, Twinkie Clark and Kurt Carr. Then there are artists who are just a blessing and have a way of drawing one’s spirit in, like Martha Munizzi, Mary Alessi, Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Sapp, Micah Stampley, Anita Wilson and Tasha Cobbs.
Christopher Heron: Your music on the album – I Am Kingdom – finds its roots in both African and American styles. How would you describe the sound and spirit of Kudzie G. Phiri & The New Wind? And please describe your new album, I Am Kingdom, in your own words.
Kudzie G Phiri: That is a very interesting question. Let me find the best way to answer you. Well Kudzie G Phiri & The New Wind is essentially a prophetic worship team. Our sound because of our different music influences is primarily a fusion of Black Gospel and Jazz but in some cases you find a blend of afro-centric, Hebrew, (subtle) classical and blues sounds.
The album, I am Kingdom, was given to us as a reminder that the earth was our blessing and not our curse and so we have to rise up, take ownership and reclaim what belongs to us. It’s the Father’s reassurance that through the sacrifice of His son, through the blood of the covenant, we have been justified and purified and we now reign and rule with Christ. Its no longer about our pain and hurt, its now about our experience in God, in the words of Tasha Cobbs‘ song Greater, “I hear greater for my life.” There is definitely a call to become greater, to walk in greatness and achieve greatness because the price was already paid!
Christopher Heron: Your powerful music ministry is making a profound impact on the lives of Africans. Share one or two stories about how your music is changing lives and how those opportunities to share your music is affecting and shaping you for greater things.
Kudzie G Phiri: I have had people approach me with testimonies of how God delivered them or has come through in different ways through our music ministry. People’s lives have been impacted in different ways, firstly just by that proclamation that we are children of the Most High God and we reign and rule with Christ. Secondly by realizing the authority we have in Christ Jesus. After listening to and meditating on the song The Blood Of The Covenant one individual called me and said, “the Lord has been showing up in my life and I am experiencing deliverance in areas that I had been under demonic and witchcraft attacks, areas I had been struggling with for years.
Over a month ago my team and I hosted our very first Worship Experience with a few other ministry teams. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I knew what I was called to do, it was beyond singing. Seeing the Holy Spirit working in people, watching them on their knees being transformed, delivered, healed and made whole, I felt a sense of fulfillment. Sharing this music with people has changed me for the better, I see more of our God’s heart for his people and the longing in us to know Him more.
Christopher Heron: I sense an earnest desire to introduce your music and ministry to the West. What is your prayer and hope for those who will discover I Am Kingdom for the first time?
Kudzie G Phiri: Yes, definitely. My prayer and hope is that people who discover the I Am Kingdom album would begin to see who they truly are in Christ and that a sense of a greater destiny and purpose be ignited in them. That this Kingdom message be a blessing to you as it has been to my team and I.
Christopher Heron: Thank you so much for your time, Kudzie. By the way, for those interested in introducing Kudzie G Phiri & The New Wind to America, what do you recommend they do?