The voice of a 10-year-old United Methodist is transcending the global pandemic.
Britney Sadete, a young leader at Hunyani United Methodist Church, released her first album, “Tsitsi Dzake,” just days before Zimbabwe declared a nationwide lockdown on March 30 to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
For some struggling with fear and grief, her music offers an escape and a message of hope.
Charles Kamutando, evangelism and worship chairperson at Hunyani United Methodist Church, said Britney’s singing has been a blessing for many.
“Her music has helped us a lot, because it also preaches to people, especially her latest single, ‘Tsitsi Dzake (Give Me Jesus).’ It carries a lot of biblical meaning in today’s world where COVID-19 has wreaked havoc among humanity,” he said.
More than 290,000 people have died worldwide from the coronavirus, and there have been 36 confirmed cases in Zimbabwe and four deaths, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University data.
Britney, who serves as the district junior Sunday school lay leader and junior evangelism and worship chairperson at Hunyani, recorded her album on Jan. 8 on her 10th birthday. It was released March 24.
Her performance of “Oh Bvumai Ndifambe Nemi (Walking With God)” has more than 100,000 views on YouTube and hundreds of positive comments.
The hymn, about making a commitment to God during trials and tribulations, is fitting during the global pandemic
“I enjoy music and I want to inspire people so that they witness the greatness of God through music,” Britney said. “When I was going to church with my parents, I was inspired by how the church was glorifying God through music. I thought if I can follow suit, I will make a difference to (those) my age.”
In 2019, she participated in The UMC’s Got Talent festival at Cranborne United Methodist Church, where she took first place in the under-12 category and second place overall.
Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, Zimbabwe Episcopal Area, said The United Methodist Church recognizes that the future of any church is in the hands of children like Britney.
“We take seriously the words of Jesus Christ … ‘Let the children come to me.’ Letting the children come to Jesus Christ can be by encouraging them to express their talents as Britney is doing,” Nhiwatiwa said.
“The church plays the role of the mentor. We thank Britney's family for giving their talented daughter some space and encouragement. To Britney, I say, ‘Keep on climbing the ladder of success. The sky is the limit.’”
Barnabas Mutonga, Zimbabwe East Conference music director and one of the founders of The UMC’s Got Talent, said the church has discovered notable talent since the festival’s launch in 2018. In addition to Britney, he said, four other participants have found success in the music industry.
Britney said she got her start by singing songs from the United Methodist Hymnal during her free time. “My parents assisted me on the tunes and to understand the meaning of the songs,” she said.
Her mother, Ndiudzei Sadete, said that while she had reservations at first about her daughter pursuing music, Britney has been able to balance her responsibilities with ease.
When the lockdown isn’t in place, she follows a strict schedule.
“After school, I start by doing my homework, then church work … I then help my mother to do household chores, so that both of us can have time to practice music,” Britney said. “If God wishes, I see a bright future ahead of me as an upcoming gospel musician in Zimbabwe and the region.”
Her mother said she and her husband, David, want to support Britney’s dreams.
“With the little we have, we want her to enroll in music college so that she can gain skills. Our prayers are for God to give her wisdom so that she can witness her talent coming to fruition.”
The Rev. James Matsungo, Britney’s pastor, said he is very proud to have the special young girl among his parishioners.
“Britney is talented with a beautiful voice and (she) is very humble. She is improving by the day and her music is maturing like wine,” he said. “She has inspired many children to love music and explore their talents.”
Matsungo said Britney’s success inspired Hunyani United Methodist Church to host UMC’s Got Talent festivals at the circuit level. “Through that, a lot of talents are being identified and the church is becoming vibrant by the day,” he said.
Washington Magomo, Chitungwiza Marondera District lay leader, applauded Britney for her leadership in the church.
“Britney is very intelligent and full of confidence when she coordinates junior church ministries. She does not consider her age as a limiting factor, but she looks at the office she holds and does what is right,” Magomo said.
During the 2019 Zimbabwe East Conference at Old Mutare Ehnes Memorial United Methodist Church, Britney performed in the presence of conference leaders, including the bishop and his cabinet.
“She sang ‘Walking With God,’ an emotional song, and she broke down on stage, but she braved it out up to the end. During this COVID-19 pandemic, the song is very relevant. We need God’s power to pull through,” Magomo said.
Ellen Kazizi, Britney’s fifth-grade teacher and choir leader at Nettleton Junior School, called Britney multitalented and said she has inspired many children.
“She is a very prayerful person, a chorister, intelligent and disciplined person. When she stands before children and staff members, she possesses great confidence — (no stage fright),” said Kazizi, who allowed Britney to join the school choir, which is usually reserved for sixth and seventh graders.
Britney also does well in academics. “Her class position is between 11 and 12 in a class of 65 pupils,” Kazizi said.
She said the girl is an inspiration for her classmates. “I always tell them that Britney puts God first before everything, hence she is excelling.”
Britney said she refers often to Philippians 4:31: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
“The manner in which I execute all my assignments, taking into consideration my age, it is because of God who strengthens me,” she said.
Chingwe is a communicator for the Zimbabwe East Conference.