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Zimbabwe Youth Rocks His Way To The Top


Picture of Jon Delinger

Picture of Jon Delinger

“I am into music that speaks to people, music should still communicate to people as much as it makes them excited but it should send some message that it is relevant to the times.”

When people talk about rock and roll music, they normally associate it with heavy drum beats, unending jumps and high energy dance moves, and music that is not popular in many African countries.

But wait a minute. There is a Zimbabwean youth, who found his rhythm and voice in this music genre, by just stringing his guitar.

Jon Delinger, also known as Jazinj, a Kwekwe-born artiste who is now based in South Africa, is reaching huge audiences with his music and attributes it all to his strong family music background.

His interest in music was sparked at a tender age. He used to sing at his family church choir. He borrowed his brother’s guitar one day and taught himself the chords over the years by memorazing what his brother did with guitar strings.

Music from all-time greats - from Led Zeppelin to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Metallica and even Chris de Burgh - are among those that were liked by his family, something which helped to shape his eclectic tastes at this young age.

“I am into music that speaks to people, music should still communicate to people as much as it makes them excited but it should send some message that it is relevant to the times.”

He adds, “I am an artist that loves to fuse the music. There is a bit of rock-n-roll edge and there’s African energy in that rock-n-roll.”

Picture of Jon Delinger

Picture of Jon Delinger

His distinctive voice first caught the public’s attention in 2002, when he participated in the Ethno Music Festival in Sweden.

Today, Delinger’s music is enormously unwavering because of these early numerous impacts. Although he is a self-confessed rock-n-roll man at heart, he has a passion for distilling the sound of the classics and adding to them the melodies of his own African upbringing, to create a singular musical signature. He has since performed at a number of leading South African cultural festivals and theater productions.

Picture of Jon Delinger

Picture of Jon Delinger

​He is always willing to learn from the contemporary bands he admires, such as Draughty, AC/DC and even punk rock outfit Good Charlotte, but specifically to his belief that artists can, and should, develop strength from each other – hence the name of his album, Never Walk Alone.

“Everybody needs somebody, no one should ever have to walk alone," he says.

His first album, Never Walk Alone, is a stunning showcase of the talents of this gifted singer, songwriter and musician. Delinger's release of Never Walk Alone in 2010 coincided with his selection as the singer of the Australian national anthem during the Tri-Nations cricket tournament, on 28 August.

“I write about aspects of the human experience that we can all relate to: anxiety, confusion and the inevitability of love,” he says.

Zimbabwe's social and economic problems have contributed to the migration of talented artistes as many youth look for opportunities in other nations in order to realize their dreams.

He explains, "... I cannot do what I am doing in Zimbabwe because the economics cannot allow you to actually do something, it’s a dream to ever think of being a rock star, it’s a fairytale, three quarters of the time you are looking for survival instead of harnessing a dream.”

He adds, “Musicians are not seen in Zimbabwe. How can a child can have a dream when you don’t have bread? A dream is something you want to look for, when you have food in your tummy."

Picture of Jon Delinger

Picture of Jon Delinger

Delinger also released a masterpiece album, Revolution, which is bluesy, with swinging ballads, party tunes, soulful rock-n-roll. His powerful voice is infused with harmonicas and saxophones. He has worked with the likes of Virgil Ellis, Rudy Massyn and Bruce Wallacel, gurus in their music industry.

“What thrills me most about this industry is that people often find my brand of music unexpected,” Delinger muses, adding, "and that’s precisely what keeps them listening.

“So this is why I cannot do what I am doing in Zimbabwe because the economics cannot allow you to actually do something."

Jon Delinger in live performance at Hard Rock Cafe

Jon Delinger in live performance at Hard Rock Cafe

​Delinger recently won first place in a rock and roll competition, Hard Rock Rising, held in South Africa hosted by Hard Rock Cafe and several cafes with the collaboration of the Sandton Tourism Association designed to promote upcoming local artistes.

Though he is regarded as very talented, Delinger is quick to give credit to other artistes who, he maintains, have enhanced his albums through their contributions.

These include Michael Naranjo, who also produced the album, on bass, Ryan Schnettler on guitar and Chromium’s Gerard on drums. Delinger, meanwhile, wrote all the songs, provided vocals and also played the guitar.

The writer Chioneso Jani can be contacted through email cjani@bbg.gov. We would like to here from you.

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