For some time now, there has been a new voice in Malawi’s music circles with a touch that has a genuine cultural background.
The music is spiritual as it thrives on the traditional vimbuza, a dance that has healing powers, popular among the Tumbuka people in Northern Region.
If you are a fan of Afro-pop music and have not heard of Nyago, then probably it is time to get some spiritual healing of the soul courtesy of the songstress.
Nyago has for the past few months been performing at a number of events especially in Lilongwe.
But in all fairness, it is only the persona Nyago that is new as the artist has been around for some time under the Trizah Titus moniker.
She is credited with four albums Tsika Mzimu Woyera (2013), Yesu Wakwiza (2015), Ndendende (2017) and Umoza (2019).
But it was only early this year that she announced her rebranding from Trizah Titus to Nyago after falling in love with her true self.
“Well, I keep discovering more and more about myself. It’s like learning a new person in me and it’s so beautiful. Free at last or happy ever after, I can say. Changing from Trizah to Nyago has helped me to look at my life like I’ve stepped out of pain, and created this new peaceful world/life for myself,” she said.
Nyago boasts of powerful vocals that accentuate her African rhythms uniquely fused with jazz and blues. She exudes youthful freshness, groove, depth, honesty and soul and, as anticipated, the concoction evokes the audience, emotions.
She said: “So, as a spiritualist [wavimbuza], my calling in life is to naturally help people heal their souls. So, instead of using my pain to hurt others, I use my pain to relate to others who are hurting,” she said. The artist said everyone is broken somehow.
“It could be at work, school, church, family, friends or even parents. We all need healing. Abusers use their pain to hurt others and that’s a weakness.”
The artist’s childhood was filled with music from church. Her escapades turned into her formative years, until Nyago decided to take music seriously about a decade ago.
“I started singing as young as I can remember. My dad was a pastor when I was very young. So, I grew up singing in church and crusades with my siblings. But as a career, I started in 2012 when I was in South Africa. Growing up, I never thought I’d be a musician one day but I loved singing and listening to music,” she said.
Since rebranding, Nyago continues to make a name for herself as a soulful singer whose music demands to be felt.
Apart from concentrating on making her presence felt, she has been working on an album which, if it were not for the global Covid-19 pandemic, was going to be out by now.
“We’ve worked on my first single which will be released any day. Also, the album will be out there soon. When Covid-19 clears up, we’ll have to launch it,” said Nyago.
She said she has gained so much confidence lately knowing that what she does is naturally unique and many others might be looking up to her.
“I feel like I have to deliver unapologetically because I just have to,” she explained.
Born Lucy Gondwe, Nyago can easily be mistaken for Wambali Mkandawire because of her unique ethno-talent. She draws inspiration from the legend, admits the artist.
“Wambali inspires me a lot though I started doing my music before I knew his type of music. Others may relate my music to his but it’s probably just because we are both Tumbuka and my voice is deep,” she said.
Her music goes beyond language and comprehension, with gentle and tender strength to it—just like all things beautiful persuade people to soak in the moment.
“Most of my songs are in Tumbuka because I express my feelings better in my mother tongue. That’s the language I grew up speaking,” Nyago said.
A self-taught traditional instruments player, Nyago embodies the essence of what it means to be a daughter of Africa.
“I play nkhombo [chikho in some parts of the country] and mbira, [popularly known as the African thumb piano] naturally. I never learnt it from anywhere. My manager bought me the mbira and asked me to play it and I just started playing it,” she claims.
Behind what can be described as one of Malawi’s rising beautiful voices that is Nyago, a shortened version of her clan name, NyaGondwe, is her desire to heal the world with love.
Her manager Qabaniso Malewezi was moved by the artist’s authenticity, richness in her voice and composition and her story.
“Nyago also has a very teachable spirit and is always open to explore new ideas. My job has been to let her become her true self by assuring her that that is okay and that there is nothing wrong with being different,” he said.
With his versatility in the arts, the poet has also been instrumental in turning Nyago into a fully-fledged musician she is fast becoming.
Said Malewezi: “I also put the band together. I would say I am more of the creative director and I believe the path we are taking, though non-conventional, is working. The best experience with her music is via the live performance. That is where the magic happens and I can gladly say that we are festival ready.”
Malewezi said his approach is to develop the live performance further for festivals, corporate events and niche audiences.
“I would also like to acknowledge her musical director Sam Shaba as he plays a very integral part in the process. Malawi should watch out for Nyago,” he said.