She may have slumped on her historical journey on the X Factor—a British reality television music competition to find new singing talent—contested by aspiring singers drawn from public auditions. She, in fact, tried her hand in other music competitions without success.
But that has not put Sharon Tembo down as the young UK-based Malawian singer-songwriter hopes the release of her debut single, Running, will allow her to get her music career up and running.
Running is simply a message from God’s heart calling all people to stop running away and hiding from him and get back to Him. It’s a message about many people running away and hiding from God today. With the Father’s love that endures forever, who never gives up on his people no matter how far one strays, the creator awaits for all sinners just like He did for the Prodigal son.
“My debut single was released on November 27, and it is called Running. I wrote the song, I composed the song and recorded a demo of it using my home studio. I took the demo to Chapel Studios in Wimbledon where I recorded it professionally. It has been received very well by the people who have bought and listened to it.
“Up to now I am receiving snap-chats of people, especially the youth, singing along and dancing to it. Simply put, I think it’s a great song. In the first week it was up there in the Top Songs on iTunes alongside the gospel and Christian music stalwarts like Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, Bethel Music and Hillsong,” said Tembo in an interview.
Recording Running has been a learning process for Sharon and humbling at the same time as she worked with renowned producers who have made big hits.
“It’s been a learning process as well as humbling. It also felt amazing to work with people who have worked with some big names in the music industry. I mean, to have these people playing for me and producing for me at the age of 20. I mean people who have played and produced for big names like Stevie Wonder, Gary Barlow, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Bebe Winans among others. I really believe everyone who has already bought Running is being blessed and those who will buy it will be blessed by it and if that be the case I just say glory be to God,” she stated.
As a believer in Jesus Christ and a worship leader, Sharon does gospel and Christian music.
“He is not only my saviour but my Lord as well. And I am a worshipper and that’s what I like doing. This is the kind of lifestyle I live. Many people think of worship as a type of music. No, it is not.
“Worship must be a lifestyle for every believer in Jesus Christ. From that perspective I am also a worship minister at church. But not only in church, I also get a lot of invitations for worship ministrations at different events and places,” she explained.
Sharon started out writing and composing secular songs until when she had a more meaningful relationship with God.
“They were really very good songs from a secular point of view but they will never be published. I discovered life is not just about cars and money and other material things that most people value so much. These things are good but there is more to life than all those things.
“I want my songs to have meaning. I have noted that a lot of songs you hear on the radio just pass you by but I really want to help people, challenge them, encourage them and make a difference in their lives while at the same time they enjoy my music,” she explained.
Music has always been an extra-curricular activity for Sharon as she started singing at a very young age.
Said the artist: “Music is a sort of pastime thing. But here I am today and who knows what the future holds, really it’s all about God unfolding his own plans for me. My passion for music has grown over the years. I started singing at a very young age: at church, at school and even at home. Many people who heard me singing said I had a good voice. And thanks to my mum and dad and three brothers who have encouraged me over the years and have put up with me making noise in the house most of the times. Most importantly, my dad and mum paid for my singing lessons.
The release of Running is only the beginning, as she plans to release another single in 2016.
“That will be mid-2016 before releasing a full album in November/December same year. I am recording my music at Chapel Studios where the producer and engineer is Steven Williams. Steve is very well experienced in the music industry. He has worked with musicians like Gary Barlow, Sting, Britney Spears, Eric Clapton, BeBe Winans and many more,” she stated.
It would appear Sharon has already started her own contribution of selling Malawi to the wider world. However, she believes this ought to be the goal of every Malawian, and in this context especially musicians.
“When I was in Malawi in June 2014 I observed that there are some really very talented artists in Malawi. Unfortunately, they have put themselves in a box by restricting their music to the Malawian indigenous audience playing all their songs in Chichewa only. Why can they not write, compose and invest ample resources in production of some really good songs in English that can compete at the international level? We need to know that if we keep on singing Chichewa songs we cannot sell Malawi abroad.
“It’s time Malawian musicians started thinking and operating outside their box. So most of my music is mainly in English for strategic purposes. I want to reach a wider world than just Malawi. And in that way we can sell Malawi effectively, like my parents have told me about groups like Kalimba and Makasu once topped the world music charts with some of their songs done in English in the 1980s,” she mused.
With such a strong message it is no surprise Sharon, who previously announced her musical abilities by reaching the regional final of the Open Mic UK competition in Liverpool, cites gospel music as a major influence alongside singer-songwriters such as Emeli Sandé.
“I tried UK’s X-factor, at the Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, but it was not to be and it was not for me. I believe God had and still has plans for me. I have gone as far as a finalist at regional level in Liverpool in the UK’s Open Mic singing competition. I have learnt a lot of lessons by participating in these competitions. They have shaped me and prepared me for the present and for the future,” she explained.
Sharon, who is currently juggling music around her final year of studying biomedical science at De Montfort University in Leicester, has since competed in the talent search contests as a teenager, Sharon has performed at events including Christmas light switch-ons and weddings as well as leading the worship at a church in Bolton.
Moving forward, Sharon, who left Malawi at the age of four with her parents for Gaborone, Botswana in 1999 where they lived until 2002 and relocated to the United Kingdom, is thinking big.
“I’m starting my own record label, CoHeir Records, so that in future when I am settled in the industry I can work with a lot of African musicians especially Malawians,” she says. n