He continues to bask in the glory of his first album. A beautiful story weaved into words, metamorphosed into lyrics, blended with rhythms to create and deliver a non-toxic concoction simply named after his name—Lawi.
After his surprising but spontaneous arrival in 2010, Francis Phiri has travelled far and beyond, promoting his talent as well as his fusion of Malawian music with contemporary soulful pop.
Now, after earning acclaim as an intelligent and socially-conscious talent, the musician trading under the moniker Lawi is almost done with his sophomore album, Sunset in the Sky.
“Time for something new. Since the release of my first album it has been a roller coaster, I have had too much fun but also had many low moments. I have played music in my country and performed in many places around the world. I have had the chance to play with legends and had the privilege of maturing under their mentorship. I am adventurous, curious and I also love to work and play hard.
“As we are speaking, I’m in South Africa where we are doing mastering and packaging for now and also finalising on agreements with distributors. All work is almost through but we do not want to set dates yet as some things are quite unpredictable,’’ he said.
At the announcement of the imminent album, Lawi could not wait to finish the project and share with the world what he has now. He is actually targeting the international market, hence involving an international music distributor.
“We have been holding discussions with Universal since last year. We still have meetings to finalise agreements and they have their distribution channels. It may be too early to say for now but we will ensure the product is available on the world market unlike the first album,” explained Lawi.
Taking a new album to the international stage is debatably an overkill to others. For the Lilongwe-based singer, composer and producer, now is the time.
“It was important that I lay a better foundation. Beginning from home meant my people know and embrace me as their own. My people also help in the marketing of the product and brand name in the different countries they travel to. It makes a huge difference being known and celebrated by your own people because when others ask, your people have a story to tell on your behalf.
“On the other hand, I had to ensure I have grown to trade on such a market platform. There are too many exceptional musicians from Africa. I wanted to ensure I’m ready to work on the same canvas as them. Now is the time,” he said.
Arguably, his fans are thirsty, enthusiastically waiting for his new music. Such an irony to Amaona Kuchedwa, a hit that registered him on the local music scene, sending the self-titled debut into phenomenal success.
“The music in the first album was recorded in the years 2010 to 2013 when the album came out, it’s four years now and I’m sure there’s a huge difference in many things. Each day I have grown older, translating to more experience and maturity. It has so much beautiful music about life, God and many other things. I can’t wait to share this with you soon.
“These are components you will not miss in the new album. I am sure there will be lots for people to enjoy in the new album as the stories involve them too as they have been a part of my music journey for the past couple of years unlike when I wrote the first album,” he mused.
Sunset in the Sky is influenced by life and the experiences it inspires. It is a concept that came from the artist’s thinking about the past as a young boy growing up and then now travelling the world.
“You may remember that in the village in our culture we are told the aeroplane is a big bird and that alone got us as young people confused and wondering how it felt to be inside it. So, as a young person, I promised myself to work very hard in order to one day experience the feeling of being inside a plane.
“I did and so did my band, Under The Mango Tree. We have travelled a lot but within the travels there were some really long flights that took us into the night and some were quite uncomfortable. Traditionally, the idea of the planes being a bird posed questions in my mind as an artist to say most birds that fly at night are associated with bad omen,” he said.
The artist added: “So, in this journey, a young African traditional man is wondering what kind of bird keeps flying in the night when other birds have gone to roost in their nests. It’s quite an interesting project really. I’ll leave it for the listeners to enjoy. There is a lot of music that will edify, educate, entertain and satisfy, I’m positive about this.”
Just like in the first album, Sunset in the Sky has 17 songs.