By Debbonnaire Kovacs, June 15, 2016
Of all the stories I have written for this spot in the past four years, this may be one of the most amazing. I strongly recommend that you first click on this link and listen to this quartet before continuing. In fact, this will open a new page, and you may continue to read while you listen.
Beautiful, isn’t it? But you’ve heard beautiful quartets before. Possibly not many like this, however…no, those aren’t identical quadruplets. That’s one man.
His name is Kaoma Chende, and he told me, “I have always loved harmony. I have never had music lessons, but I have always had an ear, and can arrange songs and rearrange.”
Chende was born in Zambia, the fourth of six children of a now-retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor. He has always loved music. He remembers lying on the floor under the living room table on Friday nights as a small boy, listening to the Kings Heralds on the phonograph. (And if that wasn’t a musical education, what is?)
By ten or eleven years of age, Chende and three friends, all members of the Seventh-day Adventist boys’ and girls’ club Pathfinders, created a quartet and called themselves, creatively, “The Pathfinders Quartet.” Clearly there was already talent for harmonizing burgeoning among these children.
When he was older, Chende belonged to a quartet called “City Prophets,” but, as Chende puts it, “the guys moved on with life and it’s been a bit difficult finding local guys to form a quartet. We formed a singing group with friends from my church, and do occasionally sing, but I still craved quartet music.”
By this time, Chende was living in the United States, in Niles, Michigan. He began to consider other ways of singing the quartet music he loved. Since he has an amazingly wide vocal range, he decided to try recording himself singing all four parts.
Then one day, Chende saw a YouTube video of a man who not only sang all four parts, but did video, and seamlessly stitched them together as if he were cloning himself into a quartet.
“Of course that got my attention, so I looked up the software he used, and watched a ton of tutorials and learnt how to make the videos. The rest is history,” Chende wrote me in an email.
History it is, indeed. Chende was only making these videos for his family and friends, but his precision, skill, and stellar musical talent caught attention, and the spiritual heart of the music made friends. Chende’s Facebook page has nearly 36,000 likes, and one of his many YouTube videos has nearly 2 million views.
I asked him what his goals are and what he hoped his music would accomplish. This was his response.
“My plan when it comes to music, is to continue singing and continue making videos as long as the good Lord allows. And put out albums when finances allow. I love to sing, and when I started making these videos, it was mostly just for my friends and family. But now they have reached a lot of people and when I read testimonials and messages, I realize these videos are a blessing to someone out there. I realize I can share my love for my God through them. And my prayer is always that someone gets a blessing through them and that someone gets drawn closer to God. I pray that unworthy as I am, God by his grace can still use me as his instrument to share his love and the message of hope to many, myself included.”
Chende has a soundtrack album out on iTunes and other online stores, and is currently working on another which he hopes will be out by the end of summer. When he is not singing, he works in a nursing home providing continued therapy for long-term residents. He walks with them, does range-of-motion exercises, and walks with them. He also does some photography, which he describes as “my other Love, second to God and Music.”
He wanted me to thank his supportive and encouraging family and friends, as well as his church family, Niles Westside Seventh-day Adventist Church. Most importantly, he says, he is “thankful for God’s mercies, to whom all praises belong.”
And yes, Kaoma Chende will sing a quartet at your church—you just have to have three big screens for his other three “selves,” while he sings the lead!
Debbonnaire Kovacs is a speaker and the author of 25 books and over 600 stories and articles for adults and children. To learn more about her work or ask her to speak at your organization, visit www.debbonnaire.com.