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Were Miracle’s palm kernels broken for her?

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Miracle Moffat’s meteoric rise to stardom has been accompanied by irony. First, she had to lose a mother—musician Grace Chinga— for her career to have a sudden bloom. In fact, it was at Chinga’s funeral that the teenage songstress gave people a small bite of the bigger music cake she promises to offer. On the other hand, Miracle’s leap has been fortuitous having had a mother who laid a strong music foundation for her.

At Comesa Hall in Blantyre, when Miracle was launching her demised mother’s album Esther, she managed to fill every inch of the space in the hall. Some people nearly suspended themselves on the rafters just to have a glimpse of the young lady who has bewitched the local music world.

It was the same story in Lilongwe at Sheaffer ICA Marquee and at Squirrels Park in Mzuzu last Sunday. And it is likely to continue when she takes her tour to other places.

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So far, as the adage goes, Miracle’s palm kernels have been broken for her by a benevolent spirit.

With the frenzy that has come with Miracle’s miraculous rise, it is not expected for one to start thinking of what will become of the young lady’s career when the euphoria dies down. A question that should be asked is: Is Miracle a musician or just a daughter of a legendary musician?

Miracle’s advantage on the music front might end up being her very disadvantage. For starters, Miracle has not given fans a sample of her music.

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Perhaps it is unfair and, obviously deviant and cynical in the mind of a mass that refuses to be jerked into reality at a moment it is enjoying some crazy moment, to start asking how ready Miracle is for her own music career.

But, eventually, she will have to be her own musician.

Apart from the glaring difference in dancing antics, Miracle is a striking mirror image of her departed mother. The neat haircut, noticeable comeliness and the African dress style give people a feeling of nostalgia: A longing for a past Grace, Miracle’s mother, gave her fans.

Normally, we tend to appreciate our artists when they depart. When an artist dies, there is that feeling of loss and the stinging realisation that we never supported them fully. So, a desperate way of clearing o u r guilty conscience is that we try to immortalise the departed artist by looking for something that we can keep in our memories for ever.

That is why when someone appears that reminds us of the departed icon, we tend to do everything and give them what could have been given to the original artists. Even on the market, CD sales shoot up once an artist dies.

Today, Evison Matafale’s memorial remains the most patronised music show in the country. It is because he is gone and people want to cling to whatever remaining thread there is that reminds people of Matafale.

After Matafale died in 2001, the music world witnessed a sudden boom of reggae musicians. Some even went as far as imitating Matafale’s voice.

Then, everyone wanted to sing like Matafale despite most of them being 10 times removed from the fallen star in terms of talent.

It was when the likes of Haxi Momba and Gift Fumulani emerged on the scene. Fumulani, luckily, realised what his music was supposed to be. In his subsequent albums he took the prophetic and militant style that endeared him to many.

Matafale’s popularity grew after his death. It was that time when people started listening to his music with an understanding. That is why; many people looked forward to the Black Missionaries’ Kuimba 3 that was released after Matafale’s death. To most people, Black Missionaries were a reminder of their beloved Matafale.

In the band people saw a continuation of the mission that Matafale embarked on. Fortunately, Black Missionaries built on Matafale’s legacy and have managed to retain a decent following. But the blunt reminder is that in terms of lyrics and style, the Black Missionaries are a pale shadow of Matafale. The hue is even getting paler since the demise of Musamude Fumulani who, to a recognisable degree, took after the tradition of reggae music from Matafale.

When Vic Marley passed on, it was the same thing. His younger brother, Star Marley, thought he was ripe to continue the Hii Hoo, a fusion of hip hop and ragga, which Vic popularised. Star’s first song Kunjenjemera was warmly received not because it was the best of productions but people were still in denial that Vic had departed. Since Kunjenjemera Star Marley has lost the glint and his career has taken a huge nose-dive.

The two scenarios are perfect examples that talent is not easily transferred.

Somehow, the difference is going to be noticeable. Black Missionaries failed to maintain the lyrical touch and punch Matafale possessed. But credit to them, they have evolved into a group that is fusing Khunju reggae, choral melodies and commercial reggae, and they have maintained a fan base while, of course, losing those accustomed to roots, rock reggae.

Star inherited the stage surname Marley from his departed brother but not lyrical acumen. The result is what we know.

So, those close to Miracle and managing the young lady must start preparing her for a career outside the shadows of Grace. Grace was not only about voice. Her songs are well crafted and had a punch that resulted from a combination of gospel music and social issues.

So far, and at 17, Miracle has fitted perfectly into the huge shoes left by her legendary mother, but soon and very soon Miracle will have to be her own miracle.

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