International music producer and promoter Ian Brennan has urged Malawian musicians to work on their creativity, originality and quality if they seek to compete on the international music market.
Brennan, who spotted and exposed the Balaka-based acoustic gospel music group The Mouse Boys, said this in an email response when discussing his plans with the group.
The versatile producer said there is room for Malawian musicians to make it onto the international stage, but said there is need to improve on a number of areas.
“No matter where you are in the world, the entertainment business is extremely competitive and with the advent of the Internet, the record industry has suffered dramatic losses. So, it is extremely important that artists find and retain their own voices and sing for competition,” he said.
Brennan added that globalisation has led to a flattening of expressions, where singers from all over the world begin to sound interchangeable.
“Vocalists have become impersonators versus expressionists of their own inner life. This is tragic loss for the planet. Artists should be creative and natural and the world is ready to accept their work. Good work sells itself,” said Brennan, who has produced three Grammy nominated records.
He said despite The Mouse Boys being new in the music circles and singing in Chichewa, they held their audience spellbound when they toured the UK two years ago.
He said it is neither the language nor the tune that control the success of the song, but the originality and creativity applied.
“The group uses simple instruments. Their guitars and percussion are handmade from scraps of wood and metal. The songs in their debut album are insistently hopeful—devout, robust African gospel—and their music echoes of hymns are Africanised, but with a hearty lead voice that soon joins and answered by precise natural choral harmonies as you listen, it provokes a sense of relating it to Africa and Malawi in particular.
“No wonder, in its raw state, the group was invited to perform at the last year’s Womad festival in the UK and several other events. It was a privilege to be featured in the world’s top media publishers such as the New York Times, CNN, BBC and The Guardian,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Brennan has said the group is planning to tour Europe and USA in the year with music shows.