Stella Mwanza’s mismanaged career

Malawi’s music has some subsets within its wholeness. Within these subgenres we have its influential players. If I mention Black Missionaries for example, then what will quickly come to mind is that these can be lumped together in their own subgenre with Wailing Brothers and Lilongwe based Soul Raiders.

If I mention Joseph Nkasa, then Thomas Chibade, Moses Makawa etc will join this subset. The same way Mlaka Maliro and Billy Kaunda will form one subset.

Most of these are dominated by men artists. But while the other subsets have had female players coming in and going the Nkasa, Chibade, Makawa subset has rarely entertained any female challenger until Stella Mwanza came on the scene.

Tracks like Musandilaule, Chidodo, Chimbayambaya, Mdanitsa, just to mention a few took the music world of Nkasa’s ilk by storm.

Her music and music videos were being produced by Harry Kazembe of Rhem Records as well as John Nguluwe of MC Studios Entertainment. These have produced all the greats including Skeffa Chimoto and Lucius Banda.


Now Stella Mwanza has gone into hibernation and perhaps like Mirrel Nkhoma she will never come back again.


There was a time when she had a manager, someone whom she entrusted to manage her career but it all ended up into a disastrous ending.


According to a write up by lawyers of creative arts, there are four different kinds of representatives that may represent recording artists, performers, and songwriters in the music industry and these are personal managers, agents, business managers, and attorneys.


Of course I know with the Malawi scenario none of these are there to show the way. One other female artist that I know relies heavily on her manager is Sangie. Like Stella in her time, she is never allowed to speak or strike deals only when her manager says so.


Now back to the said write up, it says Personal Managers are there to advise and counsel the artist on virtually all aspects of the artist’s career.


Thus the duties of a personal manager may include dealing with the artist’s publicity, public relations and advertising; assisting in the selection of the artist’s material; devising plans for the artist’s long term career development; choosing the artist’s booking agent, road manager, lawyer, accountant etal and overseeing the artist’s relations with each of them.


The personal manager’s other duty is also to provide counseling to the artist on what types of employment to accept; in some instances, acting as a liaison between the artist and the artist’s record company.


For all this to work personal managers are usually paid a commission of 15 percent to 25 percent of the artist’s gross receipts from all of the artist’s activities in the entertainment industry (recording contacts, publishing contracts, endorsements, television and movie work, etc).


Of course this commission, which may increase depending upon the artist’s success, is in addition to reimbursement of the personal manager’s travel and out-of-pocket expenses incurred in representing the artist.


If you check the above duties, there is no where written impregnating or sleeping with the artist because in the music industry worldwide this often happens and to an extent end up killing the budding career.


Now when you look at how, for example, Miracle Chinga is struggling at the moment, would you say she has a personal manager that is looking after her affairs? Are we going to be surprised if two years down the road she will still remain a shadow of her late mother?


Now if the music industry is not going to reorganising itself and start validating who becomes a manager of our artists we are going to end up with a lot of Stella Mwanzas in this world.


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