All that jazz

Apart from cherishing Malawian culture, his songs are built on social-relatable concepts that attract a diversified audience.

That’s the promising music career of an afro jazz artist, Alinafe Chiwanda alias Mzati, who for the past two years has raised and maintained quality bar of his tunes.

Mzati: My dream has come true

His tender age and entanglement in local colours, including use of old tropes make his songs to mesmerise hearts of those listening.

Mzati got attention of good music lovers when he launched his debut afro jazz album, This Is Malawi (TIM) in 2017 with a live band performance at Malawi College of Health Sciences [lecture theatre] in Blantyre.

Renowned artist Patience Namadingo endorsed Mzati’s talent before the launch. Namadingo wrote on his Facebook page acclaiming the TIM album.

“One of the big things to happen in Malawi is the coming out of this young fellow’s [Mzati] album. If I say good music, trust me it is good music,” he wrote.

Mzati’s music is lyrical with real life situations that ignite different feelings (bliss, anger or sorrow) of daily lives.

“I love our culture; hence, embracing local and afro jazz beats to evoke passion among people and celebrate African traits. I also strive to bring light on lives of the underprivileged population. This is music with real society events. It is my wish they (songs) do stand the test of times,” he says.

People do fall in love with his songs like Mwamuna Aligone, Zakwathu, Chidyerano, Anali Golide, Chimbalame, Pamchenga and Ten pa Ten at first play because they please ears and souls. They also enjoy airplay. And his TIM album which is packed with down-to- earth contents is a must buy for everyone.

Unlike his age mates, who are lost in the maze of urban genres (dancehall and hip hop), Mzati found his way out of hip hop to afro jazz in 2015.

Mzati says he started playing music in 2008 while learning at Henry Henderson Institute (HHI) in Blantyre. He was drowning in rap music under the moniker L Cee.

The Chirimba Township-based musician is inspired by the works of his elder brother Fortune Chiwanda, US’s hip-hop artist Chris Brown, and Cameroonian Lokua Kanza.

“I changed from L Cee to Mzati to suit the afro jazz genre. I have been leaving so much on the table because of hip hop. I am hooked in afro jazz following massive support Mwamuna Aligone received in 2015. I settled for it to give people mature and soulful music,” he explains.

One of his fans, Diana Ishmael, says there is need of more young artists to cherish local roots.

“His music future is promising because the songs are rich and compelling. It is admirable to have young people promoting our culture in this Western influenced society,” she says.

In 2016, that development made him to do a theme song for Miss Blantyre Beauty Pageant titled Beyond Beauty. So far, Mzati has done a number of concerts, including at Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre.

The 25 year-old up and coming live performing artist enjoys bookings to offer afro jazz sessions because of his soulful awakening songs.

One of the patrons to his recent show at Jacaranda Cultural Centre, Enlys Pemba, was delighted with Mzati’s epic act, saying there is notable growth in his career.

“The voice was captivating, standard sound and energetic stage presence. If I had one super power I would have loved to have his voice. He came alive to live the moment and delivered [to the billing]. Mzati is brave and a super star,” she says. 

The amusing expressions in songs have cemented his prowess to be a force of atmospheric cultural sounds. While he has more room for improvement, it is in order to say Mzati has rung into the league of local fine afro jazz musicians.

Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) personality, who hosts Born&Bred show on Radio 2, James Gumbwa, concurrs to the above sentence, saying Mzati is a growing ball of fire grunting forth with passion having found his voice and alley in the local music industry.

“He came with exceptional touch to fill a vacuum created by fellows who are pinned to hip hop, and rhythm and blues (R&B).  I first played Mwamuna Aligone in 2015. I was excitedly baffled because I did not expect mature and rich lyrics from anyone of his age. He is young, talented and has extraordinary afro jazz taste,” he said.

Gumbwa advises Mzati to continue working hard, saying he has a lot of superb touches to entertain Malawians with. In an interview, Mzati acknowledges that God’s hand on the progress and thanked fans for making his dreams come true.

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