When you dream and obstacles are thrown in your way your resolve is questioned. This man has gone through many unspeakable experience to attain his dream but he hasn’t given up yet
Who is Junior Garnet?
My name is Junior Garnet Mandlenkosi Dube. Jr Garnet is a 24 year old artist and entrepreneur. I was born and bred in Hwange but now I reside in Bulawayo.
Can you tell us about your musical background?
I started doing music in 2010 through some talent shows in high school. I basically grew in love with the response and how the raps made me feel after and as soon as I finished my O Level, I picked up music as a career.
Your first hit song?
My first hit song was Real Ndebele. I dropped it in August 2014 and it made much noise in 2015 as it charted along TGonzi’s Zvenyu and Guluva 7’s Gijima. These were also boththe artists’ breakthrough songs. It was club banger that was produced by Billz at MasterFame Records in Hwange.
Moving to Bulawayo, does it help go to a bigger city?
At the end of 2014, I moved to Bulawayo to grow as an artist and as a brand too because in bigger cities the platforms are there and there are a lot of them compared to Hwange. Imagine having to board a bus at $10usd per trip for a 2 minutes TV interview and then board a bus back home, comeback again tomorrow for a radio/newspaper interview because these are rare things in the City of Black Gold (Hwange)
You slept on the street for a week in Bulawayo, tell us about that.
Between February 14-21, I hit my all time low as I became homeless. I spent the whole week on the streets and I had no phone so my call for help really went unheard. I thought ofwhere I came from, how bad it was and I remembered what Iwanted to do, to better my future and I held on and fought on. And here we are.
Who helped you and how did you connect with others artists
A pastor helped me, Bishop Eli Tekwa. As I walked past by Isaw a man in a yellow shirt doing his morning prayer and as a believer I asked to join him and pray for my problems too. He felt it in his spirit and asked what was troubling me and I told him I was homeless and without thinking twice he gave me a roof over my head, water to bath, food and clothed me. Sometimes I like to believe we go through the struggles so we can learn and stand up wiser and stronger. I remember I lived for over 6 months without a phone and I would ask for the Bishop’s phone and log on to my Facebook account and communicate with other artists, until I got my own phone.
Why was Hwange a small pond for a big guy like you?
We can not say Hwange was too small for me given the time and effort you might discover some talent much better that the talent I possess. So while I found a path I used it and tried to open the same path for everyone else in Hwange. There is little progress as we now watch more music videos from Hwange on the national TV station (Shout out to Willie Gates,GS, Brio, Dashbeatz, DJ Divara and many more)
The Combo enterprise?
App-A-Combo Restaurant is a dream I kept in the streets. I knew that for it to work I needed to be in a bigger place like Bulawayo so I could not go back to Hwange. I have been working on the concept 5 years before the opening day. I tried getting investors to fund the idea but to no avail. After a while, I found out about a pizza chef online and I got in touch with him and asked to get him clients and get a $1 per head. I kept those dollars until I could introduce other meals like chicken and fries etc. I officially opened it on 22 July 2020. App A Combo ZW was featured in the SMEs magazine Excomag and also I was ‘Ndine Thaza’ Season 6 contestant.
How are you juggling your career and entrepreneurship
Juggling the music career and entrepreneurship has always been a challenge, especially when we just opened a lot of people wanted a taste of our services and there was pressure always. A few weeks on we expanded the staff and the load reduced a bit. Fast forward now I can even go to the studio. Ifinally found the balance by planning properly.
Your award nominations?
I have only been nominated in the Mat North Music Awards. First time I had four nominations and I scooped only one gong for Hip Hop Song of The Year (Real Ndebele). I then got 5 nominations the following year making 9 nominations in total my whole career. I have tried submitting for major award platforms but I guess I haven’t made the cut yet even though sometimes it’s really hard to accept, given the work we put in and the results we provide also. But then again, the target is not the Awards, the target is making great music and improving people’s lives.
Working with Chicken Inn FC and the THEM SONG
Working with Chicken Inn FC on the first ever team anthem was and still is my all time high as an artist. This is one moment that when I look at it, I feel the strength to fight more and score bigger deals. Also it got me contacts in offices as Istarted getting bookings to perform at family events and other bigger events after.
What’s your secret to your success?
My secret really is not that much of a secret but I do enjoy the idea of empowering the next person. If the person next to me is empowered, he empowers the next and if the chain goes on we have a whole nation of empowered people growing. And before we know it it’s a region, continent, then whole world.
Advice to upcoming artists in small towns?
To upcoming artists in small towns, it is true that the real movement is in the bigger cities, especially the capital cities. It is like that even in countries like South Africa. Investing in your career means doing a research on where you can grow as a brand and also trying to go there as well. Keep you head up, time and chance.