Ching’amba reclaiming his production supremo

Renowned music producer Ralph Chin’gamba has worked with almost every artist worth his salt and name in the country. Reggae-outfit Black Missionaries, Skeffa Chimoto, Lucius Banda, Thomas Chibade and Anthony Makondetsa, to name a few, have all benefited from their association with his revered production. However, the coming of urban music producers seem to have nearly derailed his illustrious career. Our correspondent MPHATSO CHIWALA engaged Ching’amba for insights on this and other issues.

Ching’amba: We want to get involved in daily operations of the artists

Q

: Tell us more about yourself?

A

: My name is Ralph Chin’gamba. I am 39 and I come from Mbachundu Village, Traditional Authority Mavwere in Mchinji. I am married to Chifundo Khoriyo Nkhoma and together we have five children—Sharon, Bahati, Euphrasia, Alvin and Peace. I am a music producer and I own Ralph Record Studio and Ralph Records Music Centre. The two fall under Ralph Records Group of Companies.

Q

: Over the years, you have been quiet with your music production. Did you quit?

A

: To be honest, I cannot completely divorce from music. I am still passionate about music, only that due to the nature of my job, I live in two countries, thus Malawi and South Africa. However, my works are still on demand abroad, more especially in South Africa. The idea is to assist some clients who seek my services in the rainbow nation. However, I am considering Malawi as best place to live.

Q

: Last year, you told this publication that you were to reopen Ralph Records in Malawi, where are you on that?

A

: Yes, that was the initial plan, but things changed because I had some unfinished projects in South Africa; hence, I returned to work on the same. However, I am reopening the studio this year and it will be based in Area 47 in Lilongwe. For now, Copyright Association of Malawi (Cosoma) has given us the licence to operate as a music distribution outlet and record label to be known as Ralph Records Limited Music Centre. The principal idea is to record and distribute music across the country. I have chosen Lilongwe because it is the centre of the country and Blantyre was a bit far considering music distribution.

Q

: How do you intend to go about establishing a record label?

A

: That is one of our expansion initiatives. We want to get more involved in the daily operations of the artists that we will be working with by helping them in composing and recording songs and promoting their product.  We will employ professionals in different areas of interest such as marketing. We want to have our own studio and producers who will be working with these artists. The idea is to be there from the first stage of production all the way till it is ready for consumption.

Q

: You will be opening a music distribution outlet when piracy is a big issue, what is your strategy?

A

: It’s not easy, but it has to do with people’s love for their country. Piracy is a global phenomenon which has affected many institutions. It still needs efforts from the law enforcers to instil a sense of discipline among those that pirate the works of other people. But, I dream big and I am dreaming in colour.

Q

: Can we say you were overshadowed by the coming in of fresh minded urban producers who are appearing suitable for the current crop of artists?

A

: Of course through the years many dynamics in the industry have changed. However, I have remained steadfast in both approach and originality and I remain one of the best producers Malawi has hatched.  So far, I can assure you that despite that there are many big artists who come looking for my services, even in South Africa, the others are up-and-coming artists. And I am currently working on Rasta Wazza’s new gospel album.

Q

: You have produced music for big names in the country. Why is it that now they opt for others instead of you?

A

: I have no problem with that because I only produced their projects and never signed them. As such, they are at liberty to work with any producer of their choice.

Q

: From your assessment as a long-time producer, is music in the country improving?

A. Think of it this way: Today, everyone wants to sound like Nigerians or South Africans because it is the type of music that is enjoying massive airplay in our country. However, radio stations should have some policies of controlling this. Let’s promote local materials to meet some standards.

Q

: Are artist benefiting in the industry?

A

: It depends on what you do, but many are struggling to make ends meet. There isn’t much money in it, hence artists are doing it just for passion. However, people should start appreciating the art.

Q

: Since you came on the scene, what have been some of your most notable contributions to the industry?

A

: There are several achievements. I have produced several big artists such as Lucius Banda, Wendy Harawa, Limbani Banda, Ndindi Marley, Black Missionaries, Skeffa Chimoto, Charles Nsaku, Allan Ngumuya and Thomas Chibade.

Q

: Which urban music producers do you admire?

A

: If truth be told, Malawi has a pool of gifted music producers, but DJ Sley and Tricky Beats have an exceptional touch.n

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