Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do Musicians’ Showbiz names sell?

World over, musicians and writers have used names that are not theirs. These names have been created either from nothing or from something while others have just been adopted for reasons known best to the bearers of such names.
Musically, people have said, “I am Patrick Magalasi but in showbiz cycles, I am known as Mafunyeta.”
Well, Mafunyeta and the late Victor Kunje who called himself Vic Marley settled for showbiz names when they launched their musical careers because their parents had not sanctioned their musical talents.
If we go to the Caribbean Island of Jamaica, it will be difficult to ask for Winston Foster when you can easily find him when you say Yellow man, the same for Alan Hope who is Mutabaruka or Sizzla Kalonji whose real name is Miguel Orlando Collins.
While in Jamaica, change of names is a sign of protest over the slavery names that their ancestors were forcibly named and carried through generations and therefore this an effort to kind of Africanise them, in the US, the story is different.
Take for example Jay-Z whose his real name is Shawn Corey Carter or Lil’ Wayne whose name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. When changing names, most American artists have in mind what fancy name will push their music to stardom.
To date, many people will not tell you who Chiyanjano Muhezuwa is, journalists using this name when doing an entertainment piece will not attract any readership unless they say Anne Matumbi.
Reasons why Matumbi decided to change from his real name is something that I intend to discuss today suffice to say Anne Matumbi is a household name while Chiyanjano Muhezuwa is a total stranger.
I remember when lawyer Ambokire Salim started singing, he used to call himself Chapter Priest and from the look of things, it looks like he has abandoned it.
Human Rights activist Chris Chisoni became famous with Lancelot Goblet a track he played and not a name he adopted for his musical career.
Nonetheless, the question that is still standing out stubbornly is; do these names change anything in the careers of musicians. Or can a name really bring big bucks or is it just an effort to separate the musician from the person.
I have heard other musicians saying I do not mix my showbiz life with my private life; can a name really enable someone to have two different lives?
Then who has to enjoy the wealth that one name is bringing into your life, the musician or the person? Are they still two different people?

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