He is a South African legend, but deeply connected to Malawi. His troubadour puppet step father came from Dedza. Ray’s interest in music grew everyday as he witnessed his father, Justnow Kanyama Phiri, playing music.
When he got a call to perform in a country that gave him a man who contributed so much to his talent to be where he is now, he gladly accepted.
The call wouldn’t have been any better than to be part of a fundraising show for two Malawian NGOs.
The night at Crossroads Hotel started with drinks with fans enjoying cool and nice acoustic hits by Sirius, real name Danny Kalima.
It was a perfect way to start the rather hot night. Dinner was later served before Lawi appeared on stage at exactly 9:36 pm. Cheers, a thunderous applause and jubilation welcomed him at a time the audience seemingly got tired of waiting.
His first two songs were a meditation as the artist was calling for holy spirit’s presence.
It was Africa, My Motherland that brought life into the room as some people could not resist the effect of the song and showcased some dance moves.
It was followed by the famous The Whistling Song, which got the artist a nomination at the inaugural All Africa Music Awards.
“I was having a picture of my grandmother in the village when I was composing this song,” Lawi explained the motivation behind the hit.
His last for the night was Amaona Kuchedwa that sent the audience on the dancefloor.
This prompted him to get down from the stage and join the patrons in dance.
But then the night had just started as Ray was yet to give people his legendary dosage.
He grabbed the microphone at 11:15pm and he was simply moved and ecstatic with the resounding welcome he got.
He perfomed five songs before he apologised for not performing to his best because he had a cough. He retired much to the disappointment of the audience who wanted more from.
His last song was emotional as it was a dedication to his adoptive father.
“My father went to South Africa to work at the mines in 1937. I was born in 1947 and a few years down the line, my mother married my adoptive father. I last met him in 1973 before he returned here and died a year later. So, the song is a tribute as I was unable to attend my father’s funeral,” he said with a mixture of emotions.
He played I Miss You Father before he bowed out.
For Lawi, a dream has come true and it lives on: “I am happy the show with the legend has taken place. It’s a dream come true and it lives on because we are going into the studios for a song.
“We sat and threw ideas and it was a fruitful session where I learnt a lot. We will still be throwing ideas, but meanwhile Ray’s team will be in the studio to work on the ideas we already have at the moment,” he said.