Two decades ago a Malawian national by the name of Nkhondo Lungu went to the US. While there he married an Ethiopian woman. They now have six children that have formed a reggae musical outfit they are calling Lungu Vybz.
When I read their story in The Nation I went online to check on them in order to have a feel of how much they can really satisfy the tag that they are a reggae band.
Boy! I was really impressed!
One of their videos that I watched was of their performance in Ohio. They did covers of different artists including Aswad, Bob Marley, Inner Cycle, Culture, Garnet Silk, Lucky Dube, Israel Vibrations etc.
The elder sibling Tawonga was very impressive on the drum set and you really, could just appreciate that she knows her way around. The same could also be said of her sister on the main keyboards set, Malcomish. She played the covers as it is. She also did some lead vocals on other songs including a joint one with her lead vocalist brother – a track by Junior Gong called Welcome to Jamrock.
On the other set of keyboards was Sibo, who also did some difficult reggae tunes with ease. There was also a little boy, eight-year-old Muzi who as a backing vocalist showed a lot of enthusiasm for his age. Then there was the bassist Malani who killed it with aplomb and of course the master lead guitarist who is also the lead vocalist Nkhondo Junior, he was a wonder to watch.
Much as they left me in awe I had a sense of reservations that they might be doing it as a past time activity. It is a disappointing feeling because the way one would really get satisfied with their performance you would wish they had made it big. Looking at their skill and the fact that the band was formed four years ago, one would have expected that they, by now, would have their own compositions in form of an album or two.
But as word had it, they are busy doing school and they rarely get an opportunity to be together long enough to be able to accord their fans, at least just a studio album.
This is the more reason I think they are just out there to tease their fans for something that they are not ready to sustain.
Nevertheless, in the event that they decide to get serious and hit big, apart from the fact that they claim of Malawi originality, what more will the local music industry benefit?
There is an artist, formerly of Kalimba Kid Mkandawire who performs in Denmark. Once or twice he has come to Malawi just to show off, without necessarily leaving any mark on the local music industry back home. There is also US based Tony Bird.
There is something terribly wrong with our local market. The marketing and sales system of music is a total botched up job. No direction, no hope, no future in terms of financial rewards for most artists and therefore no progress.
Of course it cannot take one man to change the terrain, but locally artists can learn one or two things about how others are doing it out there. We could be very lucky if those that are doing it out there can come and appreciate where we are not getting it right. This is where after exchanging notes those in leadership positions in our music industry can attempt at transforming the industry altogether.
We have had exports like Erik Paliani, Chris Kelly, and others who have had the opportunity on how it is done on the bigger stages but for sure we as a music industry has not tapped into their knowledge to change our status quo.
This is the reason I am saying yes Lungu Vybz, but really if they succeed do we win too as an industry, let alone if they decide they have enough of their current pursuit and decide to concentrate on something else based on the school they are currently doing, do we really care as a music industry?