Jamaican reggae artist Gramps Morgan and Ugandan Levixone yesterday led the way to become the first international artists to jet into the country for this year’s Sand Music Festival.
The two arrived yesterday afternoon through Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe on Ethiopian Airlines flight ahead of the annual event which is expected to start this Friday at Sunbird Nkopola Lodge in Mangochi.
Sand Festival organising team member Wendy Harawa said they facilitated the early arrival of the artists to beat air travel challenges that have arisen globally due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We did not want to take any chances with their travel. Their early arrival will also benefit them as they will have ample time to rest and prepare for their weekend performances,” she said.
Harawa also said that the People Like You hit-maker will perform backed by his live band, whose members are expected to arrive in the country on Thursday.
The US-based artist yesterday morning posted on his Facebook page while in Ethiopia: “Just landed in Ethiopia, next destination Malawi.”
In a related development, organisers of the event Impakt Events Management have announced the full line-up of performers which shows a change in approach from the previous episodes. This year, the international headliners have been spread across the three days of the festival.
On the first day of the festival, the onus to raise the curtain in style has been placed on South Africa’s trending artist Makhadzi, Symphony from eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) and Mr P from Nigeria. These will be supported by local acts such as Kell Kay, Piksy, Edgar ndi Davis, Macelba, Nepman and Skeffa Chimoto.
On the second day, patrons will be treated to performances from Ugandan Yvonne Lioness, Raphael Loopro from Germany, Gramps Morgan and DJ Bundu from South Africa.
They will be joined by Lulu and Mathumela Band, Black Missionaries Band, Rashley, Leslie, Anthony Makondetsa, Eunice and Kwathu Band.
Levixone, South Africa’s gospel music king Sipho Makhabane, Wendy Harawa, Lucius Banda, Billy Kaunda and Princess Chitsulo, are some of the artists who will take to the stage on the final day of the three-day event.
But one surprising thing on the line-up of performers is the inclusion of reggae artist Lambani Dube, who last week announced that he will not perform at the festival, citing contractual disagreements.
He said: “It has been an honour to be recognised, but I feel some of these things are designed to exploit poor musicians in this country. I bow out peacefully knowing that one day [we] will come to realise that it is not only money we need to keep us happy, but also making others happy.
However, Impakt Events lead organiser Nkhwachi Mhango said the artist is still appearing on their schedule because he has not communicated to the organisers formally of his intention to withdraw as their contracts stipulate.
“This time around, we are serious with issues of contracts and discipline. We specifically hired a lawyer for that. Even artists who don’t stick to time or bring a large entourage at the gates will not be tolerated and will face consequences,” he said. But in an interview later, Banda maintained his stance that he will not perform at the festival and he will never perform at the event again.