Phenomenal, stupendous, remarkable, talented, composed and sensational are some of the adjectives that you can use to describe Jessie Zonda Kaliwo, the incredible lead singer of the Great Angels Choir.
This year she celebrates her 20th year singing alongside the people’s choir, The Great Angels. And she described her music journey as exciting.
She said the celebration to mark her 20th year in music will be on 15 and 16 October when the Great Angels Choir has organised a Mother’s Day festival at Sunbird Nkopola in Mangochi.
According to William Zonda, events director of the Great Angels Choir, the festival will celebrate women, including female members of their choir. Jessie was born after William and his twin brother Ephraim.
The two celebrated their birthday on Wednesday, September 20 2023, as the choir prepares for a sundowner at Mibawa Multipurpose Hall tomorrow.
“I started singing when I was 8 years old in Mbayani, Blantyre. And I have been with the Great Angels Choir since 2003. This year marks my 20th year with this most amazing music grouping in the country.
“I will be celebrating my 20th year at the Mother’s Day festival on October 15 and 16 at our Nza Yawhe Festival at Nkopola Lodge. I urge supporters of our choir to come and join me in celebrating my 20 years of singing,” said Jessie who is in her thirties.
Jessie, who is also a business woman and mother of two, said she cherishes her mother. “I am a carbon copy of my mother and I want to raise my two kids the way she did with me. Not only did I take her physical features, but personality as well,” she said.
Jessie, who is inspired by strong women like footballer Tabitha Chawinga, said being a lead vocalist of one of the leading choirs on the land is both challenging and rewarding.
“It is an honour to be a lead singer of such a big music group of the Great Angels Choir calibre. It takes your commitment and God’s guidance to handle this huge responsibility. Discipline and passion for music ministry help me to remain loyal to the choir as you are always supposed to be available when duty calls,” said Jessie.
Basically, a lead singer or front person acts as a face of the music band or group. And they are the ones who direct live performances and mostly interact with the audience.
She saluted her fellow members of the Great Angels Choir for providing her with a conducive environment to nurture her music career.
“The Great Angels Choir is such a great family to me where every member is instrumental when it comes to supporting each other. We are nothing without each other and most importantly our fans that support us,” said Jessie, adding that flexibility helps her to coordinate well with other band members and be able to take instructions from the music directors.
However, Jessie said a good lead vocalist needs to have specific qualities to make the grade in their trade.
She cited pleasant personality, charisma, stage presence and confidence as some of the key attributes of a great lead vocalist of a band or choir.
“A good lead vocalist should also be able to accommodate views/ideas of other members since no one knows it all in this life. They should also be willing to learn and improve on their skills, work hard and possess unique abilities in order to approach singing or stage work differently,” said Jessie.
According to Jessie, there are two faces of a lead vocalist. One face is the one which people describe as celebrities and the other one is the real you.
“In a scenario where a singer is regarded as a celebrity, sometimes you are required to miss some of your personal life activities as you are always supposed to please your audience and group.
“And at the same time, a singer is a person or family member who is supposed to live or be treated like one. All is possible with God’s guidance because He is the one who brings order in our careers and personal life,” said Jessie.
As a mother, wife and sister, Jessie said she enjoys pleasing God and spending much of her time with family.
William Zonda, who doubles as the music director and events manager for Great Angels Choir described Jessie as a blessing to their grouping.
“Every member of the Great Angels Choir is important and a huge blessing, including Jessie. In fact, each member of the band has specific skills set and when we combine those skills and talents we become one complete family called the Great Angels Choir,” he said.
He added: “We are called the Great Angels Choir because we believe in nurturing great skills in our members. And this sets us apart from other music groups.”
Accordimng to a poster we have seen on the choir’s Facebook Page, other artists to grace the Mothers’ Day affair include Lucius Banda, Mlaka Maliro, Skeffa Chimoto, Wendy Harawa, Ndirande Anglican Voices, Gwamba, Driemo, Shammah Vocals and so much more.
Emily Phiri, a resident of Area 25 C said she is a great fan of the Great Angels Choir because of Jessie.
“I just love her vibe when she is leading the choir. And her voice is amazing,” said Phiri.