Princes rides on the back of 7thDay


Some two weeks ago gospel musician Princes Chitsulo and Dan Lufani were the only artists that scooped two awards each at the Second Annual Music Malawi (MUMA) Awards ceremony in Lilongwe.

Many people felt like Princess Chitsulo who got the Best Gospel Female spot did not deserve the other award of the best Song of the Year for her “Ndidzayimbabe” track because it’s not her composition but that of the Seventh Day church. The song is said to be found in their hymn book which is popularly known as ‘Kristu Mu Nyimbo’.

But I am surprised that this is only pointed out because it is Princes who did that when almost all of our Gospel artists in the country with an exceptional of just a few merely copy songs from international artists and turn them into their own.

It reminds me of the late Paul Chaphuka of the Alleluya Band of the old. He released an album called ‘Ndichiritseni’ helped by veteran Sir Paul Banda and his brother Lucius at the time when he was in his lowest ebb as he was battling with cancer.

The story of his condition and the effort to record the album in his state made the album very popular but years later it was disappointing to note that in fact the title track ‘Ndichiritseni’ was plagiarized. This was the composition of Ivorian reggae maestro Alpha Blondy also by the same title, although in English, called ‘Heal me’.

By the way, the track by Princess was produced by the evergreen Lloyd Phiri whose track, in his latest album, called ‘One Love’ borrows its hook from the late Lucky Dube’s Ding-Ding.

The most shameless of the country’s entire gospel act is Ndirande Anglican Voices which copies everything from South African gospels artists and only remove words in South African local language to Chichewa.

If you think I am lying just listen to the group’s ‘Oyimba Ndiambiri’ which is carbon copy of Debora Fraser’s Bizwile… not sure of the title but I have the track with me. Ndirande Anglican Voices also did ‘Ndibwelera’ which they copied Vuyo Mukoena’s ‘Themba Lwami’.

And now The Great Angels also did ‘Opanda Dipo’ which they copied Lundi’s track that I can’t remember the title in the mean time.

Then there is a case of Evance Meleka who when declared himself a ‘Gospel Artist’ I had no reservations with his decision but my problem was where he had decided to become an Oliver Mtukudzi copycat which has instead turned him into an impressionist shame.

If I ask the people reading this who have listened to Evance to tell me whether or not he is one of the few gifted guys with golden voice, none will raise up their hands to disagree with me.

Meaning, Evance’s voice is unexploited gold which only he can take care of and nurture as time goes by but he launched his gospel music career with tracks where he has imitated Oliver Mtukudzi unashamedly.

When you check the behaviour our artists it is clear that they don’t care because they do not know that copying without following copyrights laws has consequences.

Just Wednesday this week a court in the USA has made musicians Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke pay US$7.4m to Marvin Gaye’s family over their track ‘Blurred Lines’ which they say infringed Marvin Gaye copyright.

A jury awarded Marvin Gaye’s children nearly $7.4m after determining singers Thicke and Williams copied their father’s music to create Blurred Lines, the biggest hit song of 2013.

The verdict could tarnish the legacy of Williams, a reliable hit-maker who has won Grammy awards and appears on NBC’s music competition show The Voice.

When you listen to the two tracks you will need to be attentive to capture a split second similarity in the progression cord but here they are told to pay such huge sums while our Gospel artists copy everything and only slot it in the Chichewa words.

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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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