Not so long ago, music labels were the order of the day. They defined some aspects of the Malawi music industry.
Talk of Nyimbo Music Company whose key highlights include managing the one-time popular group Fikisa. The trio of Jeffrey Thom and brothers Suleman and Saidi Yusuf emerged with a unique sound rich in folkore dominated by traditional drums.
Then there was Nde’feyo which over the years proved to be a nurturing ground for some of the country’s successful musicians.
Patience Namadingo, Piksy and Gwamba are some of the names whose history in music would be incomplete without mentioning the stable.
Nyimbo and Nde’feyo doubled as artists’ managers and record labels and gave fans and the artists the best of both worlds with the results still visible till date.
Now, Namadingo is following in the footsteps of his one-time home by establishing an artists’ management firm whose sole dream is to encourage and grow young talent.
Namartist as he is calling it, is a dream that has come to fruition thanks to people interested in promoting music.
“Namartist originated from a combination of Namadingo and artist.
However, Namartist is not a record label, but rather a management team of different professionals who, in their free time, are into artist management.
“Namartist has four managers; overall is Peter Mazunda of Xtra
Solutions, Tonderai Banda of Entertainers Promotions serves as operations manager, then Jonathan Zuze is the brands manager and Joseph Makhuwira is the accountant and I am the chief executive officer,” said Namadingo in an interview.
The artist may as well be regarded as the first to get under the Namartist wings.
Said Namadingo: “I was their first case as they managed me and so, I know what they are capable of. They value my creative ideas and turn them into reality. We did the mash-ups together then my Mapulani single and it has been a success. We then discovered Mitengeli Choir, which Namartist branded and their first release was Ndalama in which I was featured.”
He said then they signed Joe Kells and are working on his project.
“There is also Made See, a young man who used to come to my house as he really wanted to pursue music and after meeting him, he was signed,” explained Namadingo.
He said FDH gave Made-See K2 million which is being used to support hs music career and education. Namdingo is the bank’s brand ambassador.
So far, Namartist has registered success by turning the challenges the world is facing this year due to covid-19 into opportunities.
“In Malawi, politics and Covid-19 have taken centre-stage, but we made sure that we must be in the midst of things by giving them entertainment under the Machesi Ali ndi Ine hashtag. It only shows we have the fire and we set the fire,” Namadingo said.
He said at the core of Namartist is the zeal to build talent as opposed to making money off the skill of the up-and-coming artists.
“We are not interested in making profit on these artists, but building people. We have met them as artists that have not made a name. So, our idea is about boosting them up. We want to guide them so that they register success,” said the Mapulani hitmaker.
“We are working with a record label, Elation, which works with southern African artists and its headquarters is Lusaka, Zambia. I have a record deal with them as Namadingo, but they are working with Namartist so that we realise great results in as far as establishing visible presence in Africa is concerned,” he said.
Namadingo said Namartist wants to be the best.
“Our vision is to have visible presence in Africa and beyond. By 2021, we want to be getting awards like the BET and All Africa Music awards by developing music suitable for that,” he said.
Joe Kellz, real name Kelvin Jonathan Pangani, believes being managed by Namartist has been a huge step in his music career.
“These guys made Namadingo one of the best artists Malawi has ever produced. So, having the privilege to work with such a team sizamasewera[it is not child’s play]’. All in all I am very thankful to God for this opportunity and to Namadingo and his team for believing in me,” he said in a separate interview.
Joe Kellz said Namartist is the plug that has been missing in the Malawi music industry for some time in terms of both promoting talent and exposure.
He said: “We have a lot of talent in our country, which lacks exposure. Namartist is a big brand already exposed as far as Malawi is concerned. It will be easy for an up-and-coming artist to make it in the industry if he is groomed by Namartist.”
“People keep asking me how I quickly rose from nowhere in a short time. My answer is my association with big names like Namadingo helped,” he said.