Secular music in the country continues to be a predominant enclave of male musicians.
In fact, even Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) Women Desk chairperson Martha Mituka knows about this.
She once argued that representation of female secular artists keep deteriorating because of stereotypes.
“Most female artists are perceived as reckless, especially when they do night performances,” said Mituka.
She also said most female secular artists are vulnerable to abuse because some players in the industry take advantage of their sex.
This, somehow, explains why gospel music, unlike secular, is dominated by female artists.
History can help explain this.
In the 1990s, Ethel Kamwendo-Banda used to be a towering figure—a strong symbol of female presence in secular music.
However, when she turned to gospel music in 1999, she left a gap that, over the years, only Zembani Band’s Emma Masauko and Wendy Harawa attempted to fill.
Masauko, unfortunately, shrunk into oblivion leaving it all to Wendy to carry on.
Despite emergence of other female artists along the way, their stint was always temporary.
Wendy, however, has been the enduring symbol of female presence in the country’s secular music.
She has, like a north star, remained true to the task even when the going got tough with ceaseless waves of negative publicity.
But will this trend persist?
“No,” says Tuno, real name Tunosiwe Mwakalinga, an up-and-coming female artist who is releasing her debut album next month.
She is not alone.
The year 2016 has seen the rise in the number of female secular artists eager to defy stereotypes and make a mark on the country’s music industry.
Apart from Tuno, others are KIM, Rita (former participant of E-Wallet singing competition), Pinky Ice, Queen Fyah, Rina and Beanca. Added to the list is reggae/dancehall sensational Sangie, currently Airtel PaNet brabd ambassador.
Tuno said nothing will deter her from pursuing her music dream as long as she is talented.
“Limitations are there, but I am ready to face. I can’t bow down to pressure simply because I am a woman. I will prove that women can equally do music, even better,” she said.
She described 2016 as an introductory phase of her career in music.
“I believe 2016 was just a preamble. I am hoping that my fans will continue to build and shape me to become a great artist,” she said.
In 2016, Tuno released Tandiuze and Ego (produced by DJ Maas), Heavy and Run which features dancehall artist Cyapital.
Just like Tuno, former E-Wallet contestant Rita is putting up a spirited fight to become the next best female singer in the country.
In 2016, she collaborated with sensational Dan Lu on a hit single Chapatali.
The song is enjoying airplay on different radio and television station.
She also released One Time, which was produced by Jay Emm, and Down Down featuring ProVoice produced by BFB and Janta.
Rita said she was geared to utilise the skill gained in the 2015 E-Wallet to contribute to the standards of the country’s music.
She observed that most artists’ career ends once they have participated in a competition such as E-Wallet.
“I didn’t want my career to end at E-Wallet despite not winning. I decided to embark on a solo journey to exercise my right in music and it is working,” Rita said.
She further said 2016 was a setting ground for her music career.n