Gemma Griffiths is a Zimbabwean acoustic soul singer and songwriter who has got the whole of Southern Africa shook with her latest collaboration with Winky D. Not much was known about her, but that all changed when the “MuGarden” video came out.
Her name is of Italian origin and it means a gem or precious stone. Indeed she is a precious stone not only in terms of looks, but talent as well. Gemma is unique because she has managed to live up to her name, something that many people are unable to do.
Gemma was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but she grew up in Zimbabwe. She identifies as 100% Zimbo and appreciates Zimbabwean culture and music. Even when she travels abroad she does not forget her roots. You will see her coming back home to perform or just visit quite regularly. She is a frequent feature at some of Zimbabwe's biggest music festivals including the Shoko festival, HIFA and Miombo Magic festival in Zimbabwe. Speaking to KVG on her show, Coke on the Beat, Gemma revealed that she lives in Cape Town, but visits Zimbabwe every month.
Music flows in Gemma’s blood as she is not the only musician in her family. Speaking to KVG she revealed that her mother and grandmother sing, while her grandfather and uncle played musical instruments. With such a musical family, she has a stable base in her music career; which is why she has been able to successfully make a name for herself in the music industry locally, regionally and internationally.
Besides being a talented songbird, Gemma also plays many instruments. She was classically trained in piano and trumpet. She also plays the saxophone, guitar and keyboard. Playing this many instruments helps her have full creative control over the sound of her music.
So how does she stay creative? New ideas come to Gemma in various ways. In an interview on Factory 78, she said that ideas for songs come to her after playing an instrument, and sometimes she starts writing without an instrument! These ideas can be the result of the way that she is feeling at the time that she decides to write a song.
Her music career began with with her doing covers for different artists. Gemma became famous as a result of her cover of Winky D’s “Musarova Bigman.” This cover by Gemma took the world by storm after she played it at the Zimbabwe achievers awards in London. This song was well received because it was a sweeter, slower rendition of the much loved dancehall hit. After this track she did a few more musical interpretations of local songs including as “Mdhara vachauya”, by Jah Prayzah and “Hakuna zita”, a well-known gospel song.
Gemma released her first EP in 2018. This EP contained 4 songs including “My Town” and”Musarova Bigman”. She launched this EP in Harare, Cape Town and London, where many people have embraced her music.
Outside of music, Gemma’s hobbies include dancing, hiking, cooking and walking. In her interview with Factory 78, she said she loves walking so much that when she is in London she walks about 20-30 kilometres per day!