During the evening of the 58th Independence Anniversary Celebrations on July 6, Afro-jazz artist Lawi set the stage to launch his third album, Thirties.
The long queues at the entrance before the event in Blantyre showed that the artist’s launch would sell out.
For over an hour, Sunbird Mount Soche staff engaged in the rigorous errand of fetching chairs from the adjacent rooms to cater for the patrons who had no seats.
But the long wait for seats did not dampen the enthusiasm of the patrons though and soon order was restored in the vast room. Raising the curtain on the night’s menu was the Lilongwe-based Chanco Catholic Alumni Choir.
The second act to take to the stage was acapella group Joyful Souls which also entertained patrons with their wonderful and well-coordinated tunes.
The event’s host Chikondi Kasambara had to curtail their stay on stage as the programme was running behind schedule.
Before Lawi took to the stage, there was space for seasoned artist Ethel Kamwendo Banda to remind everyone that she still has enough energy in her tank. The ageless star dazzled in both her singing and energetic dancing.
She performed her popular songs such as Chete, Ndinu Nokha, Senza Mtanda and Gwira Yesu which were complemented by a captivating Ingoma dance. And an event which was meant to be a listening concert was transformed into a dance atmosphere suddenly.
Then the moment that everyone had been waiting for arrived. Lawi took to the stage and played some of his revered compositions such as Timalira, Therere and Diso Kwa Diso.
He passionately held his guitar and its strums dictated the flow of the mood in the room. His magic touched everyone. If anyone needed evidence to show what he can do, then Lawi made a good case for himself.
He then peeped into the Thirties closet and performed the first song from the album titled Sangandilengere. The song reflected his DNA, with a clear emphasis on the guitar and careful articulation of issues.
From the album Thirties, Lawi also performed Kwa Pharaoh, Huu Wimbo and Zitamande Yahwe.
But there was to be a blemish on the otherwise colourful event. Out of the 24 songs contained in the new album, Lawi only performed four. This did not please most of the patrons who openly expressed their dismay.
One of the patrons, John Mithi from Nkolokosa, said: “This is a raw deal. Malawians have woken up. He announces that he is introducing a new album and he plays anything but the new music. Next time people will not show up.”
In a separate interview, Lawi said it would have been nice to perform songs that people are familiar with, but did not have time to do so.
“We had to strike a balance between the hunger to satisfy an audience which I haven’t performed before for a long time and the need to introduce something new. But as soon as people have accustomed themselves to the songs I am coming back to Blantyre for another show,” he said.
During the auction, the album was bought at K1 million by Ewen Hiwa while Alice Mbewe got her copy at K800 000. Lawi announced that 10 percent of the proceeds from the album will go towards promoting girl child education through the Girls Education Trust with whom he is working.