Ndikuyimbanso mobweleza/ndimolimba mtima/milomo yangayi siyidzamera ndele’…Malawi’s top notch gospel group Ndirande Anglican Voices sings in the new song Ndilibwino Kobasi from their latest album Namondwe Tonthola.
The lines in the song are almost a testimony to how their mission in spreading the gospel through music has been since they first came on stage in 1999.
Through the years many dynamics in the industry have changed but the group has remained steadfast in both its approach and originality.
The group’s music director Denis Kalimbe told Society that the hunger to preach the word through music remains the same and their desire is to reach out to as many souls as possible.
“Our journey has been both good and bad. But the good outweighs the bad. We have sung before high level profile individuals such as presidents. We have travelled extensively, sharing experiences which even now continue to inform us in our work,” says Kalimbe.
The group has survived piracy and copycats, who have come into the fray but with time they have gone into oblivion leaving the gospel group soaring.
Today, with six albums under their belt, they still look fresh and unstoppable like in the yester years.
The outfit, which has its base at Ndirande Anglican Parish in Blantyre, has among other places on the international arena, performed at the Make Poverty History Grand Parade in Birmigham, St Pauls Cathedral in London and London Eyewheel in United Kingdom.
They have also had performances in African countries such as Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
The Anglican Voices recorded their first album Ndasayina in 2001. It was a production which instantly won them many hearts. They topped the music charts for long and earned the household name status, sweeping several awards along the way.
Their second album, Tiyeni Tonse, came in 2005. It was followed by their fresher offering of 2007 Mulungu Amatikondera. Their fourth album, Ndasamba Mmanja was released in 2010. In 2013, the group returned with another captivating production Zimandikwanira.
At the moment the band is holding promotional shows for their latest album Namondwe Tonthola which according to Kalimbe, has been given a warm reception just as the albums before it.
“So far it has been good. We are expecting the sales to hit new heights now the new album which is also available online,” he says.
Kalimbe, who is also composer of the group’s songs, has once again let his star shine above any lingering doubts that people may have had about the group’s resilience given the test it faced from their 16-year existence.
The ten-track album, produced at M. Studio and Umi Wangu Studio by Steve Meleka, has reminded everyone of the immense versatility in chorusing gospel rhythms that the group possesses. The package has songs such as Mundichitire Chifundo, Wolenga Dzuwa, Israel, Nkhondo Yabwino, among others.
“We always want to compose and record that contain mature messages that will stand the test of time. Hence, we take considerable breaks in-between the release times of our albums. In the same vein we let people enjoy our music for long too so it can grow on them.
“That in a way has also acted to the advantage of the group in general. Most of our members are still studying and those breaks accord them enough time to take their time off music and concentrate on school,” Kalimbe says.
They started with a membership which exceeded 30 in number but now the group has only a sizeable number of 20 under its fold. Some of the awards that they have amassed over the years include best gospel of the year during the MBC Entertainers of Entertainers awards and the best gospel band in the Music Association of Malawi organised awards.
One member, who has been with the group throughout the 16-year period is Chris Malani.
In an interview, he said time with Anglican Voices has been exciting and enriching.
“The journey has been nothing but exciting and awesome. It has been a special privilege to participate in the work of God through music. It has brought us a sense of fulfilment more than we had imagined when we were starting,” Malani says.
The group is yet to set a date for the official release for their sixth album which is already on the market.
But their promotional tours have already taken them as far as Likoma Island where they performed two months ago, for the first time since the group was formed.