One is bound to hate a radio DJ that plays Amaona Kuchedwa early in the morning because it will be compulsively playing in one’s head all day.
That is how good the song is.
But looking back, one realises Lawi, the artist that created the masterpiece, is even greater after sampling his previous works such as Amenyere ka Nkhuku, Satana Luma and Amati Andikawe, all of which created the same frenzy as Amaona Kuchedwa.
But Lawi was not always the artist that he is. There are several factors that may have contributed to his artistry.
That is the reason Society takes you back in time.
Born Francis Chris Phiri at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre on January 25 1986 in a family that loved music, he started music at a tender age.
Doing primary education at Chitawira Primary School, and later going to Soche Hill Secondary and Chichiri Integrated Private schools, his singing was a hobby until he decided to take it to the next level when he recorded his first track Amenyere ka Nkhuku in 2003, the same year he adopted the name Lawi.
“The name Lawi came about because I believe that as Malawians, everyone is Lawi and collectively we are Malawi. So, I am that little flame that contributes to who we are,” said the Amaona Kuchedwa hit-maker.
The artist, who is currently working for Timveni TV as producer and sound engineer, and still pursuing his studies in music by correspondence, argues his skills were perfected in 2012 he went to Soulcandy Institute in South Africa where he held a jam session.
“Some friends who saw my potential introduced me to some people that run the institution so I started going there for sessions,” accounts Lawi.
After releasing a number of singles since 2003 when he debuted with Amenyere ka Nkhuku, Lawi has released his debut a 17-track self-titled album.
In Lawi, the artist expresses complex ideas through humour.
Instead of coming with on-point, get-saved-or-go-to-hell salvation messages, he offers some comic relief through his jokes in his songs.
For example, Amaona Kuchedwa is centred on Isaiah 40 verse 31.
The artist, who claims to be a devout born-again Christian, says his faith is pivotal to his songs, but also draws inspiration from daily experiences, and since humour makes up everyday life, it becomes part of his music.
“Some people doubt the gospel aspect in my songs but I tell you it is very hard to recognise a voice that is not your master’s,” he argues.
Stressing the point, the artist quotes the scripture at John 10 vs 27 which reads: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
“But even to those that are not Christians, my messages still appeal to them and in the process they hear the gospel,” says Lawi.
The musician says he will be glad when he sees Malawians proudly embracing their culture and bringing out their inner beauty.
“We do not have to copy cultures and sounds from other countries anymore because for a long time this is what we have perfectly done,” says Lawi.
Perhaps Lawi’s artistry lies in his admiration of legendary artists such as Dr Daniel Kachamba, Allan Namoko, Kalimba, Makasu, Wyndham Chechamba, who, in his view, took Malawian music to greater heights.
“I appreciate what we have been able to do to get here as an arts industry, but we really need to take a look again at who we are and take that part of us with us than suppress it and adopt to other cultures and sounds,” he emphasises.
The artist argues that there are a lot of good musicians in the country but the industry will not grow until musicians find originality.
“The international music industry appreciates originality, creativity and quality, and we have these qualities but we spend them on copied art,” laments Lawi.
As such, he urges fellow musicians to work hard in perfecting their works and be unique.
“As musicians we are all unique in our own ways, but besides this, I think knowing what you want and getting it is a special quality. For me, the secret is hard work and practice; it doesn’t matter how many times I get it wrong, but until I get it right I will always keep trying,” he concludes his case.