Patience Namadingo was barely 18-years-old when he decided to pursue a music career.
The young singer, his debut CD in hand, would go around gospel shows begging for a slot in the performance line-up.
Today, that young lad is one of the biggest stars on the local music scene.
Although the account captures the gist of Namadingo’s rise to fame, it falls short of telling the more complex and intriguing story of how the 26-year-old became the most sought-after local musician.
Here is his story.
“I recorded my first album Goshen in 2007 but it failed to take off because I lacked the resources to push it.
“However, that did not bother me because I realised that it wasn’t time to shoot, it was time to learn,” the Msati Mseke musician explains in a candid interview this week.
From the disappointment of his little known debut, Namadingo learnt valuable life lessons which have served him well in his coming of age.
“By watching established musicians, I learnt valuable stuff about good composition, about what they do to sustain their careers and, from these lessons, I decided to work on my composing skills and improve my working relationship with other people,” he says. “I also learnt to be independent and to trust in God always.”
Namadingo says his years in the music wilderness taught him to differentiate between a musician, an artist and a singer.
“When I started out in 2007 I was just a singer. And what I realised is that everyone can be a singer but it takes some experience to be a musician. So, during this period I took to learn how to play the piano and the guitar. I am not quite a genius yet but I am satisfied with what I know.
“I also learnt how to be an artist and how to appreciate art more. Gospel music is a difficult genre because it is basically the same message of salvation, but the art is what makes it different,” he says.
But how did his journey begin?
“I don’t really have a serious music background in the sense that I have never sung in a choir or with any music group. Actually, 2007 is when I tried music and instantly fell in love,” he explains.
From then on, with his mother aiding him along, he started composing and recording.
“I started composing and my mother spotted my talent and decided to sponsor my first album and she also helped me with backing vocals and contributed two songs to the album.”
The Tili ndi Yesu album spurred Namadingo to stardom within his neighbourhood. But not beyond.
“I remember I used to take the CD to gospel shows asking to perform but the MCs [Master of Ceremonies] turned me down all the time but I wasn’t disappointed because I knew that I was a musician for life,” he says.
Destiny has a way of directing people’s lives and shaping their future. And so was the case when the young musician lost his passport in Johannesburg where he had gone to visit his father.
Bored and with a lot of spare time on his hands as he waited to process a new travel document, the youngster used to spend his days at the nearby Johannesburg Art Gallery which is a meeting place for up-and-coming South African artists.
“I was both impressed and encouraged with what up-and-coming South African artists were doing and, from then on, I decided to take music more seriously.
“When I came back home, I used what I had learnt to make myself a better musician, more especially on voice projection,” he notes.
Namadingo went on to release Tili ndi Yesu in 2012 which has the hit single Mtendere and Nyumba ya Ndani.
From then on, he has blazed a trail that continues to spiral upwards. His two follow up albums Ba Yesu and The All New have both been local classics.
But having come this far, he says it is time to set a new trail and change the industry.
He has embarked an All New Namadingo project and tour. The tour started with a solo performance at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe two months ago. He takes the tour to Blantyre at Comesa Hall this evening.
He says the All New Namadingo project is about rebranding the image of Malawian music by changing the image that has been portrayed for a long time.
“When you talk of Malawian musicians, the image that has been depicted is that of chamba smokers. It is not a career that one would want their children to pursue with gusto just because there are no role models in music.
“The image of a musician must change. People don’t think music is a career worth chasing or a dream worth living. So the All New Namadingo project encompasses all this branding,” he says.
The All New Namadingo Tour is a class act, according to the musician.
“What we did at the BICC surprised a lot of people because we charged a premier charge for a show where only I performed with no supporting artists. I believe that Malawians are not stingy people, they have the money but people will pay for what is worth the value,” he remarks.
Namadingo says the Blantyre show will be supported by new music from his new album.
“But it is not a launch. It is stuff that people have not heard from Namadingo. This is a revolution of music in Malawi. We have embraced a new kind of spirit where we have to perfect our art. We believe we can pull off something special and we would love our Blantyre fans to be there to bear witness to this on Saturday,” he says.