Hit songs such as Nkhampenjanga, Thanthwe, Ulendo, Khululukireni bear testimony to George Mkandawire’s music talent. The lyrics are apt. The messages so deep. There could be no words enough to express the musical giant he was.
The songs validates that he was a masterclass.
In life and in death, it is apparent the gospel artist, who died on Wednesday, was a cut above the rest. That is attested in the endless tributes that have poured in since news of his death filtered in.
There is a striking commonality in the tributes from his peers. They have all recognised and honoured the genius that was George Mkandawire.
Jazz artist Erik Paliani, whose association with the fallen star dates back to their days at Phwezi Boys Secondary School in Rumphi, paints a picture of how he and schoolmates lured Mkandawire into music.
By that time Paliani was part of a local school band, Rough Edge, which Mkandawire was later to join as he took his baby steps into music.
He said: “One day I heard the most beautiful voice singing coming from the shower room. I followed it. It was the great George Mkandawire. I could not believe our blessings. I forced him to join Rough Edge. He added class. I am yet to hear anyone sing like George.”
Another musician Mahara, currently in the United Sates of America who came to know George in 1992 also paid his tribute.
“Together, we worked on his grond breaking album Thanthwe in 2003 at Mahara Studio,” he said.
Musician Wendy Harawa also experienced Mkandawire’s genius from his early stages. She said Mkandawire, who composed her hit Ndinalonjeza, was an exceptional talent.
In a seperate interview, musician Code Sangala was equally mournful: “I thought it was some false rumour, now it has become abundantly clear that it is true. Talent straight from Ndirande, prolific and blessed to the core. What a loss to the industry!”
Lucius Banda collaborated with Mkandawire on his song Anafera Iye and he said: “He was very talented. We have lost a unique and powerful voice. Beyond music, he was down to earth and a man with few words. He was always smiling and friendly.”
After producing his popular song Nkhampenjanga with producer Chuma Soko, Mkandawire migrated to the United Kingdom in 2004. He came back and produced what was to be his last album Ulendo.
George Mkandawire was born in 1974 and he hailed from Nkombezi in Rumphi District.
His burial arrangements and repatriation of his body from Zambia were not clear as we went to press.