Coss Chiwalo – A sign of BK Beat demise


My urge is not to out rightly look at one Coss Chiwalo as a sign that connote death of the all famous Balaka beat.
Yes, the same Balaka beat that was started by Sir. Paul Banda, the same one that made Lucious Banda, Charles Sinetre, Isaac Liwotcha, late Paul Chaphuka, Vincent Kachingwe, Paul Subiri and Rod Valamanja, etcetera.
Balaka opened musical doors that led to different genres for Malawi. It became so common that people started detesting it, Lucious Banda amongst them, as he eventually tried to run away from it.
Check his song “Achimwene mumvetse chuma ndi m’malele kumbukirani makoro – muzawafuna” the last he did with Alleluya Band – a musical outfit that became synonymous with the Balaka beat – to the South African recorded ‘Mabala’.
Well, while most of the old timers of the Balaka beat have excused themselves in one way or the other, Coss Chiwalo has not yet given a convincing reason why he is not there up to date.
He appeared on the scene with a storm, I think that should have been in 1997 when he released his debut album ‘Amandikonda’. The album was full of promise, like how the Billy Kaunda likes had graduated through the Balaka School of musical Excellency under the tutelage of Sir. Paul Banda; it left no doubt that we have a man to carry forth the aspirations of the youth in the area.
Two years later, Coss re-emerged with ‘Amakonda Aliyense’. Here, as usual, opinion started to split. While others felt the production in this aspect failed to beat the first album, others were of the view that this was an improvement from the previous works.
The debate promised that with such pace setting, life will no longer be the same.
But what has followed has been a complete disappointment.
Between 2001 and 2008 Coss released three more albums which in my view were total flops, that is if we are to compare them with his own set standard with the first two albums.
If you think I am lying, tell me how many of you know that in 2001 Coss Chiwalo released an album he called ‘Mudzithandizana’ or that he followed this one with a 2003 album named ‘Chindalandala’? Do you also know that Coss has an English titled album called ‘Heart of Hope’ released in 2008?
I have several theories that I have been trying to use to explain why Coss never impressed as was the beginning of his career.
In between he left Alleluya Band before returning as a prodigal son which could be one contributing reason. The other one could be that once he returned to Alleluya he re-discovered that the band had an international stage through the Catholic Church where they would go to Europe to perform.
There could be a sneaking feeling in Coss that if he is able to make the white people jump out of their skins with his synthesizer wizardly, then why should he waste time polishing up songs that Malawians have long stopped appreciating.
The other explanation would be that the competition is stiff and that the Balaka beat which used to massage the musical minds of the people has now started twitching the very soul it used to caress.
I know Coss holds the biggest of stakes at the moment to make the Balaka beat still stand side by side and shoulder to shoulder with the sound that is slowly but surely edging out what could be the genesis of Malawi’s modern genre.
The start of the Balaka beat has influenced the reggae and the urban stuff that has become the in thing for our radios and all dancehalls in the country.
Now remember how every latest release by Alleluya Band used to turn the nation on its head? Do we still expect anything from Balaka? What have the artists in Balaka done to our hunger for their music?
Is it us who are to blame for poor patronage or it is them who have stopped being creative and in the process they have lost us all?
These are the questions anyone who has a penchant for Malawi music needs to ask. There seem to be no sense of history for the country that one has to preserve and propagate, let alone musical history.
But Balaka genre, the Balaka beat should not die, I leave it in the hands of Coss! Sir Paul Banda, you better read this as well, don’t let this be the way you baby should lose limbs, if anything let it outlive the rest of us, posterity has sharp and hungry ears, that will need the music including the Balaka beat.
Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com

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