Raw acoustic music at Jacaranda

 

Three months ago, Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre introduced live music sessions. During the Sounds of Malawi Acoustic Sessions held every Thursday night, local artists take turns to showcase their talent. Our Staff Reporter BRIAN ITAI caught up with the cultural centre’s arts and education programmes manager, Constance Thyangathyanga.

Thyangathyanga: We encourage the youth to dig deep into traditional music

Q

: What do the acoustic nights entail?

A

. We feature a one-hour performance, followed by a question and answer session between the artists and the audience. We launched the series about three months ago and we are thrilled with the reception, both on the artists’ side and the audience side. The sessions happen every Thursday of the week and after every six weeks, we produce a showcase that gathers all artists who performed during the past five weeks for a seamless two-hour performance. The concept of Sounds of Malawi is to give a platform to artists who are engaged in preserving and promoting Malawian cultural heritage through music and dance.

 

Q

: What sort of gaps in local acoustic music are you addressing?

A

: We are encouraging music that is rooted into Malawian traditional music and dance. We encourage the youth to dig deep into traditional music and dance as a major influence in their music so that their music can blossom with a Malawian flair.

We are bridging the gap between old Malawian folk music, recordings of musicians at MBC Studio B, with today’s millennial sounds.

On a wider perspective, our goal is to help develop a Malawian sound by creating cooperation between artists. Other African countries, such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mali, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have unique sounds which help promote the artists and the country. Interestingly, renowned African artists such as Salif Keita, Baaba Maal and Rokia Traore use various African traditional instruments into their music. It is a huge part of their sounds. They treasure and preserve the sounds of their ancestors and this gives them authenticity and originality.

 

Q: So far, how many acts have graced this platform?

A

: This far, the platform has enjoyed music from acts such as Agorosso, Waliko Makhala, Code Sangala and The Tribe Band, Snowden Ibbu, Wendham Chechamba, Chichiri Cultural Heritage, Felix Jere & Afro Band, Goma Nyondo, Jacaranda Cultural Troupe, Tikondane Band, Patrick Simakweli and Kasambwe Brothers Band

 

Q

: What is the criteria for selecting artists for these weekly events?

A

: Musicians should have as much originality and authenticity in their sound as possible. They should be able to perform their own songs. Traditional instruments or instruments that are self-made are an added advantage. We look for a depiction of traditional elements in the music composition and delivery. We are encouraging more raw and acoustic sound.

 

Q

: How would you describe the response from both artists and the audience?

A

: The response has been great. We have been having new participants every week in terms of the audience as well as the performers. The musicians are now requesting to be part of the experience, which is truly encouraging. The showcase have proven to be quite the crowd puller.

 

Q

: What do you make of the standard of acoustic music in the country?

A

: Acoustic music in Malawi is super-advanced. Unfortunately, it is unappreciated, undermined and, most importantly, not promoted at all. With the introduction of Sounds of Malawi, we are seeing more and more raw and untapped top talented street musicians given a platform and an audience at Sounds of Malawi.

 

Q

: How do you see this programme facilitating further growth of acoustic music in the country?

A

: Absolutely, we see Sounds of Malawi being instrumental in bringing back authentic Malawian sound and develop the growth of the Malawi music industry to higher heights. We need to appreciate our cultural heritage and learn how to share it with a wide audience. We know that many people are looking for quality music and dance from Malawi.

 

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