Gemma Griffiths was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe. The indie/folk singer and composer has performed a variety of music and arts festivals around the world, including the Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA) twice and ‘Miombo Magic’ in Zimbabwe. She headlined for Zimfest London 2015, as well as headlining for the first Performer’s Platform in Bulawayo. Gemma performed at the African Women’s Awards 2015, and was the featured artist at Afrojazzanova that November.
Gemma Griffiths sound, best described as acoustic soul, is prominent in her first EP ‘My Town’, released in May 2018. The record unravels layers of Gemma’s musical identity and leave audiences with palpable familiarity with this daughter of Africa whose sound is as eclectic as it is cosmopolitan.
Gemma Griffiths introspective writing draws on her range of musical influences, from international artists such as Amy Winehouse, and Lianne La Havas, to the Afrojazz greats of Southern Africa, including the late Zimbabwean Andy Brown, Oliver Mutukudzi and South Africa’s Hugh Masekela, all the way through to the new generation of young Zimbabwean artists such as Ammara Brown, Jah Prayzah and Cynthia Mare. This diverse dynamic of guidance has set her apart as an artist before her time and beyond her years.
With a heterogeneous musical style that has elements of jazz infused, Gemma writes all of her own songs and plays the piano, trumpet and guitar on many of her tracks.
“My influence comes from experiences and from listening to different artists and genres of music. I am a firm believer that you can learn something from every musician” she added.
A woman of many talents, on top of music, Gemma is an avid painter as well as a trained ballroom, Latin and ballet dancer. The gifted all-rounder waltzed and sambaed her way through the Latin and ballroom gold level national championships in Zimbabwe, winning two years in a row.
“Ballroom is one of my many passions and I feel alive on the dancefloor. It is something that I will always make time for.”
“Music, art and dancing are among the most important and treasured things in my life and they have taken me on many adventures. I don’t think life would be as exciting without any of these elements that make me who I am,” Gemma added.
Gemma has also been involved in musical theatre and has performed at the Reps Theatre on a number of occasions. She has filmed a number of music videos as well as a selection of recording session videos and covers, and an album could be on the cards soon.
“I am enjoying the place I am in at the moment and looking forward to the amazing journey that 2016 still has to offer – it has only just begun and I am looking forward to what is coming in the next couple of months.” she said.
Gemma Griffiths Full Biography and Profile
In a country like Zimbabwe, with rhythm pouring through it’s vibrant veins, growing up with an undeterable connection to music was an inevitability for Gemma Griffiths.
After completing her high school education in Zimbabwe, Gemma travelled to Snow College in The USA to study towards a Bachelor’s degree in Commercial Music Composition.
She studied trumpet, piano and voice, being invited back in 2017 to give a concert of her works, as well as speak on her musical journey after returning to Africa.
In 2016 Gemma moved to Cape Town, South Africa to begin recording – and has played shows with South African artists such as Jimmy Nevis, Majozi, Goodluck, Freshly Ground and Matthew Mole.
Gemma managed to continue working closely with Zimbabwean musicians whilst in Cape Town, sharing the stage at the Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts with one of Zimbabwe’s top artists – Jah Prayzah, as well as with Zimbabwean legend Oliver Mutukudzi at Artscape Theater.
Whilst making regular trips back to Zimbabwe to perform at festivals such as HIFA, Miombo Magic and Shoko, Gemma’s faithful fan base grew with speed. Amongst the Zimbabweans and the diaspora, Gemma Griffiths quickly became a household name.
With a large Zimbabwean following in the UK, Gemma travelled to London to headline Zimfest in 2015.
From there her musical relationship with her London audience solidified, bringing her back numerous times to perform.
In 2016, Gemma returned to London to perform at the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards where she first performed her soulful, Shona and English interpretation of Zimbabwean dancehall king, Winky D’s hit song ‘Musarova Bigman’.
It was an overnight success, with over 100,000 YouTube views within months of its release, becoming something of an anthem for Zimbabweans across the globe.
In 2017 Gemma’s collaboration on ‘Headlights’ with Swiss DJ Askery was signed to Spinnin’ Records and reached over 400,000 views on YouTube in its first month of release.
She performed at Sofar Sounds in London 2017, as well as performing for the Uk’s prestigious music channel ‘Mahogany Sessions’.
Gemma opened for Grammy Award winning UK artist Joss Stone as part of Stone’s World Tour. As her career takes new strides in the international scene, Gemma’s passion for her country, and its’ melting pot of energy and rhythm, remains the driving force of her work.
With an ever growing drive to open doors for Zimbabwe’s music industry – it’s safe to say that the 24 year old is on the brink of something big.
“Gemma’s voice holds a kind of vulnerability, that is so uniquely, unapologetically raw.” – Alexander Bar
“Before her time and beyond her years” – Zifm Radio
- Gemma Griffiths Biography and Profile (Gemma Griffiths)