Harmonica player, singer and songwriter Kenny Gilmore, famed for the hit ‘Ngati Mafunde’, continues to sell Malawi to the world with his music as he has spoken highly about Liwonde National Park in his latest track ‘Grooving on the Shire’.
The artist, who last performed in the country in 2019 when he launched his book titled Harmonica Diaries at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre, said the track pays tribute to the beauty of the Upper Shire Valley and particularly Liwonde National Park.
“Liwonde National Park has special significance to me because I volunteered as a teenager to work in the park as part of an award I was completing (The Duke of Edinburgh Award). I actually loved it, and still do love the whole area including Liwonde town,” Gilmore said.
The artist, who is now based in Brazil, said the instrumental track was inspired by South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela, in that it involves a catchy afro-jazz instrumental hook.
“My idea was to use the harmonica as the lead voice, which I think has never been done before in African jazz. What really made the track come alive was the collaboration of the international artist and musicologist Rick Deja on the saxophone, who plays along with me until the two instruments almost combine to form one big, happy sound,” he said.
Gilmore who used to star with Sangalala Band in Blantyre said the idea of the production came out of a discussion with Chris Badger at Central African Wilderness Safaris.
“The man is a huge fan of music and actually plays the harmonica himself quite well. He agreed to supply some footage of Liwonde National Park to help with the project. I think nature has been our respite during this pandemic; so, for me, the theme is very topical,” he said.
Gilmore said the idea was to make something simple and positive and almost retro in its simplicity and full of positive energies.
“Dancing and playing the harmonica at the same time has always been one of my trademark moves and I am really hoping to lift people’s spirits up. I think people need a song like this, at a time like this. We have been through a lot,” he said.
Gilmore said he believed that one of the functions of music was to provide hope and that this is what he is trying to say in this track.
“Better times are ahead people – keep smiling,” he said.
Gilmore said the track was recorded live with everyone together, which he describes as an old school approach at the studio of Grammy Award winning Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra, along with musicians from Costa Rica and United States of America.
“Then the horns were added in South Africa and Brazil,” he said.
The track is set to be released on June 3 as part of Gilmore’s catalogue with TAS Records, a label based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“We are having a live show to launch ‘Grooving on the Shire’ on my YouTube on June 5 at midnight Malawi time,” he said.
Gilmore also said he is set to publish Harmonica Diaries, a book which he launched in the country and Brazil in Portuguese.