I don’t remember the last time McDonald Mlaka Maliro released an album.
Of course ‘Pamudzi Pano’ should be the last before he changed to gospel. The album has an inscription saying 9th edition. Let me play around with the scanty information provided for our musicians. Can I be allowed to assume this perhaps means this was the ninth album to his name?
I held Mlaka’s compact cassette sleeve for this particular album in my hands to search for the year it was released, there is just no indication. This is the commonality with the works of our musicians in this country; it just doesn’t have information.
Let me not digress because I want to talk about Mlaka Maliro. I know of many that have jumped the so called ‘secular’ bandwagon and joined the ‘Gospel’ camp. Evance Meleka fast comes to mind.
I have a case with Mlaka’s joining of the gospel fray, not because I have anything against gospel musicians or the shifting of camps, but I want to speculate on why Mlaka did this and how he should have done better.
Mlaka Maliro is a complete singer but according to some gurus within the music industry, he is a decorated composer and songwriter, and this coming from no lesser person than Tapps Bandawe is something else.
But after his maiden and a follow up album, his other albums like ‘Usalire’, ‘Gologolo’, etc have not done him kind.
The bad sells of subsequent albums after ‘Dzanja Lalemba’ and the all time best selling ‘Maloto’ failed to put him back on his mettle.
But wait a minute! Unlike most that spring into gospel from secular, Mlaka Maliro started with preaching the word of God as he has been involved in evangelism at Cross Life Church in Chilomoni, Blantyre.
And this to me will still not hide the fact that he left it off at the time when he was at his lowest ebb.
Read me right here, because last time I talked about issues bordering on secular and gospel musicians I ruffled a few feathers.
This is more so, because I fail to deny myself temptation to scold at artists like Geoffrey Zigoma who are greed for money that at one time they kept on jumping from secular, to gospel to secular and back to gospel.
Songbird Ethel Kamwendo Banda started from secular terrain before jumping ship to join the gospel fray, she has never changed. One might argue that she found a more comfortable home with gospel music much more than she did with secular and the questions would still be, is this what Mlaka is looking for?
In the first place, secular musicians have ever done spiritual songs – you can call them gospel as well – that are placed neither in the gospel category nor secular one, but are claimed from both divide. The bat enigma, rodent or bird?
What is coming out funny too is that others have classified ‘Dzanja La Lemba’ and that song about Abraham and his son Isaac; I cannot recall the title though, as being gospel.
Mlaka himself acknowledged that despite being secular, his album like ‘Dzanja La Lemba,’ is gospel.
Maliro has been in the music industry for long and some of his previous albums include Maloto and Dzanja Lalemba.
In a newspaper interview Mlaka guessed that people like me would still not take his decision on the chin as he expected the like of us to doubt him and have our own thoughts with regards to his decision, but he declared that this is what his heart has chosen.
I am not sure if Mlaka’s wife is behind his change of his musical heart.
He also hinted that he is working on new gospel songs and also assisting his wife, Bernadette, on her first gospel album.
Plenty theories! But what is clear is that Mlaka has gone to gospel while he had lost steam in the secular sector.
Now what makes him think he will again find his niche in the gospel world, when he had run out of ideas in the other side of the divide is perhaps what calls for the calling on faith, which we are told can move mountains.
But maybe since Mlaka is Mlaka he would find his music panache once he resettles himself in the music world of Gospel.