Malawians Love Dance Music


Two weeks ago, on these very pages, I intimated on how inveigling Lawi’s 17-track album has proven to be. As I predicted, it has trail-blazed the local entertainment scene.

Lawi has been over generous. He has 17 tracks in one album. To me, it was being unnecessarily pretentious. Considering the slow soulful music in the album, I was meant to believe that people will really fall for them, but I know and I can now confidently say that Lawi over-compensated for his many well-thought out slow-tempo structured tracks by going a little bit faster in the track ‘Amawona Kuchedwa’.

At least this is what everyone is calling ‘the track’, I am not even sure if this is the title.

This is the track which has once again exposed Malawians’ musical nature which has an affinity for danceable music. The country’s proclivity for music that has to thump their innards and threaten to split their eardrums has made them fall for this track at the expense of more other tracks in the album. Their attraction to this track has blighted and eclipsed all those good ones, including the Country and Western piece, ‘Whistling Song’.

I am not sure what the fans are demanding from Lawi whenever he is performing live as I have not had time to patronise his shows. But one thing for sure, by the show of this track’s dominance, Malawians’ love for danceable music will remain ‘indeterminable’, for lack of a better description.

Mte Wambali Mkandawire, Peter Mawanga and Faith Musa at least have managed to come up with tracks that dwell on the attractive elements of musicality which is what breaks into the international market. These artists and others of their ilk have tried to dangle tracks that ooze class and ingenuity but have mostly fallen on deaf ears.

But bring them Moses Makawa, for example, whose albums are full of danceable music, they will have it shared from Nsanje to Chitipa, Nkhotakota to Mchinji in no time at all. Most of the radio stations will snap it up.

Audience reaction to music that our musicians come up with spoils their reasoning and creativity as they will try to come up with something that the people hanker for.

Such craving from the local audience has impelled our music industry to lack ambition; they only leap as far as their noses end just to buy fleeting popularity.

Without beating about the bush, Malawian audiences do not encourage our musicians to produce good music. They encourage noisy and danceable music stuff, sometimes mistaken for good music. The Malawi audiences measure the goodness of the local music by how much it can make them jump in the air to outdo each other in dancing antics.

Over the years I have asked what makes the audience glued to their seats and listen to artists such as Salif Keita with their souls being filled to the brim with satisfaction even when he is performing in a language that they cannot understand.

The answers have always been on the musicality that such music contains to begin with, and the knowledge of an artist of Keita’s competence who knows what is expected of them when performing to an audience that enjoy music whilst seated.

If Malawians continue to encourage artists to churn out only danceable music, we should not expect our musicians to break on the international scene any time soon.

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About Gregory Gondwe - Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Gregory Gondwe is a Malawian journalist who started practising journalism in 1993. Until March 31, 2012 he was regional editor and bureau chief for Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS). Gregory is also a media consultant assisting several international journalists pursuing assignments in Malawi. He holds a Diploma of Journalism and an Intermediate Certificate in Journalism among other media-related certificates. He is also columnist for Malawi's first and oldest weekly, Malawi News. He can be contacted on gregorygondwe@gmail.com.
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