Not too often do we get to see Malawian artists garnering world acclaim, almost simultaneously, by being invited to perform way across the oceans, far beyond the country’s borders. But that is what has been happening in recent weeks as our music ambassadors, one after the other, have been checking in and out of airports, soaring deep into the sky with their music.
We have heard previously the exploits of yester artists such as the Kachamba brothers, Daniel and Donald, who toured as far as Germany and many others who inked their mark in the music business and now it appears the new generation of artists is equally determined to take Malawi music to the rest of the world.
First we saw an entourage that included the likes of soldier Lucius Banda, Mlaka Maliro who, with his ‘Vinyo watha’ appears to have reclaimed his seat in music sphere, Wendy Harawa and Mr. Zembani Johnny Banda taking the United States by storm as they mesmerized fans, particularly Malawians living in that country. I am certain you chanced upon a video clip in which Mlaka was captured live on stage doing a famous Catholic offertary tune ‘Ayambe kumbuyoko’ as the patrons showered him with dollars.
Ayambe kumbuyoko tikapereke eeh
Tiyeni tonse tikaperekee!
They even demanded an encore when the artist did ‘Dzanja lalemba’ a song that probably catapulted Mlaka to stardom many years ago.
Taliona lokha lero dzanja
Likulemba khoma inu bamboo
Amfumu ufumu wanu –mayoo
Ife tauyesa- mayo
Ndipo mwalephera – mayoo
Zachisoni dzanja lero lalemba khomaa!
We all know how lively and wild the crowd can get when the soldier of the poor gets on stage and therefore I will let you and your imagination equality run wild as regards how Lucius Banda’s set went.
Another Malawian artist who is visiting the US and is definitely enjoying her time and recording sessions is none other than Keturah, known to her adoring fans simply as local girl.
The ‘Nambewe’ hitmaker, whose velvet voice and afro music touch would even move with joy Mbira king late Oliver Mtukudzi in his grave, has been quite a revelation since she burst onto the scene.
For the youthful lady she is, one wonders what trick she pulled out of the magic hat in order to earn such a huge following that has broken all strata within society. But the answer is quite simple; her mature sound is loved by both the young and old.
With hit songs such as Munditengereko, Khalidwe (on which she featured veteran Giddes Chalamanda) and the more recent Achisale proving to be a darling among music fans, you can be assured that Keturah is here to stay and fans are anxiously awaiting the day when they will get to sample some of the work that she is going to produce in the US.
Khalidwe ndi chuma!
Khalidwe ndi Chuma!
Khalidwe ndi chuma!
Mwana wa amama!
Now Malawians and all her followers should expect some new sounds from the local girl in the near future as her mission in the US is to record new material.
“Ketura is a wise,old soul with a voice and talent that transcends. Our goal is to make an album rooted in Malawi musical culture with some Southern California overtones,” Hen House Studio’s Harlan Steinberger said of the local girl.
No doubt Keturah seems to be enjoying her time in the US.
“What a great honour! Working with Angelique Kidjo’s percussionist and the Black Panther percussionist Magatte,” she wrote on her social media page.
Similarly, Rapper Phyzix has been raising the Malawi flag high in Britain where he is currently visiting. He rocked the crowd in Leeds through a live performance with his band. He was a last minute addition to the Malawi independence festival line-up as Onesimus could not make the trip.
“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them. Fresh from a radio interview at 97.5 Kemet FM,” he wrote on his facebook page.
He had also taken the time to pay a courtesy call to the Malawi High Commission in London.
Elsewhere, Mdidi star Faith Mussa with his one-man band turned up in Madrid, Spain where he worked his magic on stage and left the audience mesmerised and yearning for more.
As many would remember, the one-man band concept was for a long time quite synonymous with late Michael Mukhito (of Mayikolo Yekha Band) and there haven’t been many that have followed his footsteps but Mussa has managed to perfect it and possibly has found a niche within the broad music industry. Little wonder organisers of international shows find this irresistible and he is punching his way to grand stages such as the one he performed at in Spain.
“Gracias Spain, you have been a wonderful host…till next time!” he wrote on his facebook page in the aftermath of his performance.
This performance came just days after he wowed the audience at the Ufulu Festival in Lilongwe.
He has been a busy lot as he recently also worked in the studio with David Kalirani on a new tune called This love.
What all these developments mean for Malawi is that the time is now to export our locally produced music. Just like we crave for international acts to grace us with their presence, those in other countries have decided to reciprocate and are appreciative of music from Malawi.
It is interesting to note that these musicians who have ventured abroad (or their managers) have serious business acumen when it comes to their trade, which probably explains why they are always on the move, exploring how to stay ahead of the game and perfect their art.
The best each one of us can do then is to play cheerleader when our musicians make major leaps, or better yet, promote them in their quest to gain worldwide acclaim as opposed to pirating their material, which has been a long standing problem.
For the time being, let us all bear witness as Malawi basks in the glory of international spotlight through music.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).