After a four-year hibernation, musician Lawi, says he has undergone a rebirth, refinement, achieved growth, learnt a lot, importantly he has seen the ‘sunset in the sky’ and is back with a new album.
During this time, the musician says he has been on a journey that has seen him achieve some of his wildest dreams, met a lot people he has shared experiences with, from where he has drawn inspiration and energy that has resulted into the new album christened Sunset in the Sky.
Lawi, real name Francis Phiri, is set the album on December 2 in Lilongwe at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) exactly four years since his last offering, Lawi, which covered hits like Amaona Kuchedwa, Whistling Song and Nkhawa.
“Since the last time I put out an album, it has been an amazing experience meeting with new people, establishing new relationships and, most importantly, sharing my life with my fans. Time has now come for us to celebrate a new beautiful piece of art together,” said Lawi.
Lawi, who calls his music ‘world fusion’, a combination of traditional ethnic music with contemporary jazz, is positive of his planned 25-song album and he believes it will bring with it a transformative effect on the people.
“This is an offering from the bottom of my heart to my country Malawi and the rest of the world. In this album you will find stories of our lives. Some will bring you good memories and some will help you connect with your spirituality.
“It is my hope that trough this music some broken hearts will heal, hope will flourish in our young and old pains of our lives. Broken relationships will mend and peace, love and unity will find a home in our hearts,” he said.
The title track, Sunset in Sky, is inspired from his personal childhood dream. The wish he held for so long of wanting to fly in an aeroplane one day finally got real for him and it has borne fruits.
“When we saw aeroplanes fly in the sky it always brought a curious feeling. I promised myself that one day I will get there no matter what it takes. It took a lot of hard work and perseverance and today I fly more times than I can remember.
“Watching the sun set in the sky is a feeling of fulfillment, an assurance that dreams come true and that everything is possible for the rural child of Africa,” said Lawi in an interview.
His last album got rave reviews and all round acclaim. It was replete with topnotch compositions that set the artist apart from the everyday musicians but he says he is not afraid to step into the colossal shadows of the success of his previous offering.
“I do not want to believe I can think well as a young man and worse as an older one. I retain the same body and mind, with an improved perspective of life which has taught me new things,” he explained.
Lawi the person and the artist derives a lot of inspiration from life and listening to its surroundings from where he has drawn powerful lessons that have empowered him with new knowledge and fresh perspectives.
“There is no other place to draw inspiration from than life itself. I have days when I just go out of the house and look at the beauty of the world and let it amaze me,” the 31-year-old artist confided.
And that is even made concrete with his latest release, Timalira. This is the Lawi signature.
It is a soul-lifting song that gives hope. It shows that it is, after all, okay to cry when you are so low and when things go hard.
Lawi, basically, says in the song we all cry. The wailing, moaning and groaning depends on the pain one is feeling. It does not matter where you stand in society.
The compositions are a result of taking his time.
He says: “I am the type of guy who takes their time to do something. I also have a lot of respect for my brand and therefore I make sure my personal circumstances do not deter the growth of my music image.”
He has a word of advice for fellow musicians on the importance of thorough preparations before holding shows as he blames the current approach as not being capable of putting out a performance with a lasting impression on the people.
“I do not want to be a statistic so I decided that if it means giving people just a single performance in a year then be it. I always want to give something they will cherish, a memory to impact them longer than I can live,” he elaborated.
Lawi has knowingly or otherwise brought to life the acoustic prowess of the legendary late Allan Namoko. The apparent elements of the great Namoko in his new single Zonena Kuchuluka have not gone unnoticed in the musical eyes of many, with mixed views.
When put to him if he is really trying to sound like Namoko, the Lilongwe-based musician gave a sly smile and said maybe the people are just nostalgic and yearning for another hero in his mould.
“First we are all Malawians in an identical genre of contemporary Malawian music. Namoko is a legend and to be associated with his name is so humbling. Maybe people miss him so much and they would love to see another Namoko in me [Laughs].
“I am not sure if that will happen as we are two different musicians with different sources of inspiration as we lived in different times. He pioneered the revolution of Malawian music and I will always honour his work,” he said.
Manager for the artist, renowned socialite Emmanuel Maliro says preparation for the launch of the album next month in Lilongwe are on a good course and they are about to give out the greatest show in the year 2017.
“People should expect maturity in the music itself and organisation of the function. Lawi is mature and focused, probably the most serious musician Malawi has ever produced. He is firm on his Malawian identity and he is an artist we should all be proud of as Malawians,” said Maliro.
The album Sunset in the Sky has been recorded and produced by Lawi himself both in the country and abroad through his mobile studio he takes along with on his frequent travels. Tickets for the show are already on sale.