On a day without occasion, the sounding of the drum draws a crowd of eager children longing to show off their dancing skills.
Adults eventually show up, intrigued by the talent on display. That is how powerful and deeply ingrained the drum is to people.
Drummers are the heartbeat of every band, providing that driving beat that keeps the music together.
One man in Malawi has and continues to make a living out of beating a drum. He is Amos Mlolowa.
Mlolowa, who plays with Mafilika and Mizu bands, has been featured in some of the top Malawian albums, including Wambali Mkandawire and Lucius Banda’s soon to be released albums.
These two artists cannot stop singing praises of the 27-year-old drummer’s dexterity, calling him the best drummer in Malawi.
And now, he is in the studio producing songs for Black Missionaries’ forthcoming Kuimba 10.
But how did this versatile and multi-talented drummer find his foot in something that not many appreciate?
“I started playing drums at the age of six and I have been playing for more than 20 years. I was born a drummer. It is an in born talent. Nobody taught me how to play drums,” he says.
As a teenager, Mlolowa, pooled together a group of friends to form a band called Tilile, which caused a sensation in his native Ndirande Township in Blantyre.
“After that, I joined Jesus Vision Band. From there, I joined Saleta Phiri’s AB Sounds. And then Burning Sounds, which was popular with the hit Thibela,” he said.
His journey continued as from Burning Sounds, he went to Impact Sounds Band.
“At Impact Sounds, I used to back some gospel artists. That time we used to perform at French Cultural Centre in Blantyre almost every Sunday. That is where I gained experience and improved on drumming. I then joined Mafilika and Mizu and these are the two bands I am playing with,” explains the artist.
Mlolowa has powerful mastery of the instrument—a power that can be tender or explosive, delicate or thunderous. Since he burst onto the scene, he has roused and moved audiences in Malawi, touring outside the country and playing scores of concerts and performing at nearly every big event.
He was recently in China where Mafilika, together with gospel artist Faith Mussa, held a number of shows. From June, Mlolowa and Mafilika will tour Europe and US together with The Very Best.
“I have also performed with the Black Missionaries, Lucius Banda, Ethel Kamwendo Banda and the Great Angels Choir. As a session artist, I have worked with Wambali Mkandawire on his Afroka jazz album which will come out soon.
“Recently, I have also worked and produced for Lucius. I produced Thoko Katimba’s recent album Nthambi. Now I am producing Kuimba 10 for the Black Missionaries,” explained Mlolowa.
Although drums seem ordinary, the drummer turns the playing of the instrument into a stunning spectacle and a vibrant expression of artistic excellence.
While he is proud of his talent in producing music which a number of musicians and ordinary people appreciate at his Active A Studios, he is absolutely in love with how he has carved a niche in drumming.
“When you are the drummer and you are controlling the movement of the beat, literally the heart beat and the party is moving, it’s a pretty special feeling.
“Basically, a drummer lays a foundation which everyone in a band rests upon to keep up the temple of a song. I believe in playing dynamically while keeping it simple, but nice and melodic. Every drum pattern is nice when it is played dynamically,” he paused, before adding:
“A producer is the one who makes sure that everything is in order and is of good quality. And he hires the artists to play when they are needed.
“A session artist is the one who just go to the studio and play when he is being hired by the producer. And he plays what the producer wants. So the producer is more like the director. In my case, I produce snd direct sound engineering. But drumming tops it all for me.”
Mlolowa devotes long hours of intense rehearsal to each piece, demanding total commitment and profound creative drive. The rigorous rehearsing have built him to be the best he is today.
He says: “I believe in practice. Nothing else. I rehearse every day, seven days a week. And it is not less than two hours a day. But sometimes I do more than that. That is the only way to perfect my skill and honestly it works for me. You know, I was born a drummer, nobody inspired me. But now I have legend drummers whom I respect. These include the late Ada Manda, Ronz of Makasu Band and Limbikani Saleta Phiri just to mention a few.”