For decades, Chileka has become synonymous with music, from the genius of the Fumulani brothers Arnold and Robert, to the days of the reggae renaissance sparked by Evison Matafale.
Even now, names such as that of Anthony Makondetsa alongside those of his Black Missionaries cousins Moda Fumulani, The Wailing Brothers Band, among others, have continued with their efforts in upholding the music legacy associated with the place.
James Mandota, 27, who is trading under the stage name Lion Paw, has emerged as a new and fresh reggae voice fished out of the music pond of Chileka.
Armed with a strong and deep voice, Lion Paw is determined to leave his mark on the local music terrain. The artist has just released his debut Extended Play (EP) Here I Come under the CoolPRO record label where he is signed.
Lion Paw traces his musical roots to his days at Dedza Secondary School where he said he developed a strong passion for music, particularly reggae. He says his love for music was deepened by his father who happened to be an ardent follower of reggae music.
“I love reggae music. I was introduced to the genre while very young by my father who was a huge reggae fan,” he said.
Locally, the artist says he drew inspiration from the late Musamude Fumulani who was leader of the Black Missionaries Band. He rues the fact that he never had the chance to perform alongside him.
Lion Paw said: “I respect Musamude a lot. He used to be a very good friend to my dad. I just had the chance to see him around our yard. But I was very young then.”
His EP has songs such as Just Wait, Wakongora Bwanji, Let Your Eyes See, Thank You Lord and Wayine. The compilation is already enjoying airplay both in Malawi and Zambia.
The artist, who stays in Nsanje where he is working, has set high standards for himself as he has his sights beyond the borders of Malawi. He says his goal is to produce only the best music for his fans.
CoolPRO Entertainment manager Duffy Chikakuda says looking at the qualities Lion Paw has as an artist, it will be easy for him to penetrate the international market. He says his powerful voice is his biggest tool to set him apart from others.
“If you listen to him, you hear elements of Alpha Blondy and Stephen Marley in him. Besides that he is someone who is humble and willing to learn and blessed with a good behaviour. His producer, Trumel should also be saluted for the work he is doing,” he said.
The artist will make his first huge public performance at this year’s Sand Music Festival. He is also expected to feature in The Wailing Brothers Band new album which is set for release this December.