In an industry saturated with wannabes who oftentimes lack real quality, it is only those who show real mettle that stand out to be counted.
The local music industry is one space that has taken on board almost everyone that has flirted with the idea of being a musician one day without any due sieving processes. As a result, the market is left flooded with countless artistic misfits.
But from this predominantly half-baked lot, some have emerged to stake their claim. They have displayed undoubted ability in the business and separated themselves from the dreamers. One such talent is Kell Kay, real name Kelly Kambwiri.
After playing the role of a kingmaker for long, having starred mainly in the shadows of already established acts such as Gwamba, Martse, Lulu and Young Kay, Kell Kay has finally come out of his shell.
He is a man of his own. He has set his sights firmly on writing his own page as a solo act using the lessons he learnt while trapped under the wings of his colleagues.
Kelly says: “You cannot make it on your own. As an artist you need the right people to show you the way up just like my friends did. They have helped me a lot in my career and now I can stand on my own.”
Just like many artists, the 24-year-old owes his path into music to his experience as a choir member in the outskirts of Kawale Township in Lilongwe.
“Before this whole dream started, I was part of a church choir. Then I met a friend Lil Vince who convinced me that I could sing beyond the choir thing. He lured me to the studio one day and that moment changed everything,” he says.
Though he is yet to drop an album of his own, the R ‘n’ B singer has already cemented his reputation as one of the best in the business. His collaboration with Martse on the hit Mwano in 2015 won him the Song of The Year award in the 2015 Urban Music People (UMP) awards.
He also emerged as the best R ‘n’ B artist in the same awards in 2015 and 2016. He was rewarded for a similar recognition in the Nyasa Music Awards in 2016 and 2017. His song Hello Mr Yesu which he did with Gwamba brought him the best collaboration award in the 2017 UMP awards.
He says: “So far I would say it has been great. I have a huge fan base which continues to grow every day. I have amassed numerous awards which I never thought could be possible. I want to keep on working hard so that I can achieve more than I have already.”
He has released so many singles such as Hello Mr Yesu, Mbuli, Juju, Nono, Too Much just to name but a few. He has also one Extended Play, (EP) titled All For You under his belt. Currently, work on his debut album, 24, has been completed.
“My first album is done. I am just waiting to hear from my management team which has not given me the go-ahead to bring it on the market yet,” he says.
Due to his rising prominence, the Malawi Adventist University final year business administration student has caught the eyes of Ranas Boutique which has made him their brand ambassador.
But despite his undeniable good looks, modelling is not something that is close to his heart: “I am just marketing their brand. Everything I do besides music is just business. I am an artist and not a model.”
Manager and creative adviser of the artist Chinsinsi Chikaoneka says his talent coupled with passion and hard-working spirit has helped him earn his way up musically.
Chikaoneka says: “He has consistently put out great music and performances that have opened many corporate doors which he is benefiting from. We are now exploring how we can put out his debut album. By November or December this year it should be out.”
Locally, the silky voiced artist is a big fan of Lulu while on the international scene, the musical prowess of the fallen King of Pop Michael Jackson has left a lasting mark on him. n