The music landscape is changing rapidly and Malawi is part of the transformation.
A number of musicians have and continue to take a different approach to music altogether to bring in change and diversification.
One of such local musicians caught in the wave of change is Afro-pop artist Sangwani Munthali.
His yet-to-be-launched Namibia-produced Ndipulumutseni album has brought a change in approach as well as production.
“For me, the six-year break after my last album Themba has been a learning curve so that I come back a better artist. The time has come now for people to sample the fruits of my experience through the album. I believe in taking time to come up with the best. That is why it takes me time to release an album
“One thing that stands out, which many people are slowly falling in love with, is classic production as well as the song’s messages. The album gives people hope and enlightenment, among others,” he told On the Arts in an interview.
Munthali launched his first album Mahomwa Ghafumu in 2002 before dropping Themba in 2009. The latter is the title of his first ever DVD, which will be launched together with the third album.
If the reaction the artist received in April during a pre-concert designed to drum up support for the launch of the album on May 27 and 29 at Bingu International Conference Centre (Bicc) Lilongwe and Robin’s Park, the album is destined for greater heights.
As one way of embracing changes in music, Sangwani spent time working on the album as his aim was to produce sound, relevant to all music lovers.
“I wanted to come up with a touch that cannot only appeal but stand out on international map. The music landscape is changing rapidly and one needs to go a bit over the top to in order to come up with something acceptable by at least many,” said the 41-year-old.
To achieve this dream, the artist worked with a blend of African artists in Namibia to help maximising the production of Ndipulumutseni.
“I worked with a Congo Brazzaville guitarist who was key to the album, three guys from Zimbabwe, Piu, drummer from Namibia as well as a saxophonist from there,” he said boastfully.
The live recording of Ndipumumutseni was done at Namibian Broadcasting Corporation with Derik Antonio Vilas as main producer while mastering took place in South Africa.
He is the personal engineer of Christian Polloni, producer who has worked with the likes of Papa Bemba, Alpha Blonde and Carlos Santana through his Cobanone Records.
The two however, both run Studio 6.
“We run a show on NBC called Sessions Studio 6 where we do a live session with artists on television and Sangwani is the first international artist we have featured. He is the first international artist I have personally worked with to produce his album.
“It was an enlightening experience for the first time to work with someone outside Namibia. It wasn’t really a challenge to understand what he was singing in Chichewa which relates to Oshiwambo and Herero languages. So, even without him translating the songs, I could get what he was saying,” said Vilas, who is in the country to oversee the launch.
He has hailed Sangwani’s albums as one of the best as it represents everything musical.
“The album is unique, the composition, music style which has pop elements with traditional fusion is out of the world. Some parts of the songs are pop, jazz and soukous which, all these combined made one beautiful piece of art.
“All this coupled with the fact that it was recorded live, people should be on the lookout for this album. I am here to finish what I started by orchestrating the whole music from scratch again by arranging all the songs to sound the way they should sound live. This is purposes of the launch,” he explained.
Ideally, all the professional artists involved were supposed to come for the launch but are tied up, according to Vilas.
During the launch, Sangwani, who was mentored by Wambali, Chimwemwe Mhango and Mahara, will be supported by Wambali.
“During the Lilongwe launch on May 27 at Bicc, Wambali will perform, having mentored Sangwani in his haydays. Sangwani looks at the legend as a father and as a way of respecting him, he had to have him for a solidarity performance.
“However, our aim is to let people have a feel of who Sangwani is as such, during the Blantyre launch the following day at Robins Park and at Mzuzu Hotel on June 4, he will be alone. He is not being selfish but people must sample him, to the fullest,” said his promoter, Harry Chima.