The year 2017 witnessed the return of the celebrated afro-soul musician Lawi after a four-year silence.
The versatile artist launched his second album Sunset in the Sky at Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) in Lilongwe on December 2.
But a promotional Zonena Kuchuluka was first to hit the airwaves two months before the launch.
The song attracted mixed reactions as some reviewers argued that he had sampled acoustic tunes of the legendary late Allan Namoko.
Lawi, born Francis Phiri, said such an observation may mean that people are nostalgic of the past and yearn for a contemporary hero.
“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.
“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.
But it is not just Zonena Kuchuluka which earned numerous reviews.
A soul-lifting Timalira, is another song that attracted the attention of reviewers. The song says we all cry irrespective of one’s status in society. Lawi argues that the wailing, moaning and groaning depends on the pain one is feeling.
Basically, the 25-track-album is a collection of stories of life. He said he decided to tell the stories through songs for cultural preservation.
“This is who we are. But unfortunately our stories are not told. We need to tell our stories; otherwise, we will always enjoy a white man tell our stories.
“We don’t need anyone to tell us our stories. We are better placed to tell our own stories,” he said.
Lawi said he has learnt all these stories through life’s experience and all the people he has come across.
“Life is the best teacher. I have learnt valuable lessons in life because of different people I have met at different platforms. All these interactions have shaped my way of thinking,” he said.
He said the title-track Sunset in the Sky, is inspired from his personal childhood dream, especially the wish to fly in an aeroplane.
“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 that I can remember.
“Watching the sun set in the sky is a feeling of fulfilment, as assurance that dreams come true and that everything is possible for the rural child of Africa,” he said.
Lawi considers the album more mature than his maiden one which had hits like Amaona Kuchedwa and The Whistling Song. And he expects the album to give young people direction in life.
Such is the more reason several patrons thronged the Bicc for a first-hand account of ‘stories of life’.
Several reviews indicated that the artist proved his mettle as he put up an electric performance that left lasting memories. And patrons could not resist but support the artist by purchasing autographed copies of CDs. Some got it at K5 000, others dished out K100 000, another K500 000 and, not to be outclassed, one got it at K1 million.
But the biggest spender was Prophetess May Bushiri, wife to South Africa-based Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, who bought the CD at K15 million.
Lawi’s manager Emmanuel Maliro was excited with the outcome of the event.
He promised to launch the album in different countries across the global.