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Lulu’s sharp limits

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Versatility, they say, has sharp limits.

Of course, this may not always be true, especially when the area in question is the entertainment sector— where versatility can enliven a musician’s often monotonous life.

After all, it takes hard work and an undying supply of creativity to make a name in the entertainment industry but, once one becomes a celebrity, it becomes almost impossible to travel back to anything like normal behaviour.

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Take, for instance, artist Lulu, real name Lawrence Khwisa. In his own words, Lulu says he “started music when I was young a long time ago. It [music] is in my blood”.

That is just a piece of truth, though. The other piece of truth is that it was not until 2004 that Lulu’s path in music was paved.

According to author, social worker and political scientist Wonderful Mkhutche, an occasion in Lulu’s academic endeavours spurred him into action.

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“In 2004, when he was graduating from his secondary school education at Chipasula in the Capital City, Lilongwe, Lulu thought of giving his fellow school-leavers a parting gift. As someone who was interested, and good, in music, he thought it will [sic] be better if the gift can [sic] be in that form [music].

“He sat down and wrote down a song, advising his fellow youth about the world they were about to go into. With the threat of contracting HIV a reality to most of his friends and himself as they will [sic] be going about their various ways of life, Lulu thought he had to say something about the issue. He composed and performed the song ‘Magwiragwira’ for them”.

Nonetheless, according to The Daily Times of July 28 2015, Lulu continued treating music as a “hobby”.

“I have been doing music in the past years as a hobby but now I have realised it’s a career. So I have decided to re-launch this career and I am serious about it. I will thus hold a big show which will be called Lulu’s re-launching music career and this is where I will engage the corporate world and show what I can do as an artist,” The Daily Times quotes Lulu as saying.

The musician, who not so long ago used to perform with Lucius Banda and Zembani Band, has h is own band, Mathumela, and has become one of the hottest artists in Malawi.

It seems that versatility has paid off but, worryingly, Lulu’s versatility is more sharp than sharp.

When he performed before a live Mibawa Multi-Purpose Hall Audience on Friday, it was evident that patrons were listening to the lyrics with their souls other than ears. Some listened with open mouths, without knowing it while others willingly clapped hands. And yet others urged him on.

Lulu, who performed after old guard Giddes Chalamanda, dished out a number of songs from the albums Mbambande, Kumalembe, Sindilora and Ndakudziwa, playing non-stop from 12: 38 am to 02: 45 am.

Lulu even had the presence of mind to pay a tribute to Vic Marley, a musician whose death spelled the end of something new— the end of malilime .

However, Lulu’s fans have something to worry about. Due to his versatility in the studio [he owns a studio, by the way], on the airwaves [Lulu’s songs are played frequently on radio and even television stations] and on the stage [he mesmerised fans at Mibawa Multi-Purpose Hall Saturday morning; not for the first time], Lulu has become hot property.

This has led him to stat driving fast, literally, both in terms of his music career and on the road.

By his own confession, he had a performance in Lilongwe the same Friday evening and he had to travel to Blantyre and perform to the Mibawa audience. What did he do?

“I left Lilongwe 09: 20 pm, ” Lulu told The Daily Times on Saturday [it was now morning at Mibawa]. By 12: 38 am, he was in Blantyre, and on stage at Mibawa in Limbe, off Midima Road.

“From here, I have to drive back to Lilongwe because we have a show ku Central [at Kamuzu Central Hospital],” Lulu said, as time struck 02: 58 am. By 3: 00 am, he was driving a red Mercedes Benz out of the Mibawa Multi – Purpose Hall gates. His passengers were Mathumela Band members Peter Likhomo, Frank Makwangwala and Vincent.

Now, in terms of music and travel, that is travelling too much. But that, too, is an indication that Lulu no longer treats music as a hobby; it is serious business. Versatility at its best.

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