Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Evance Meleka: an impressionist Shame

Evance Meleka did not emerge on the local music scene as a solo artist; like twins, he materialized alongside Zebron Kankhunda.
It will be unfair if I suggest that the two managed to get their fame through a track they released as a tribute to late Evison Matafale who had already cut himself a figure of a local reggae king with his two Kuyimba albums.
“Ife tizanka konko, awo anzanka konko nanga timadanilananji…Ulendo wa ku Lilongweeee Wokabwera Mtembo… Matafale unayenda bwa? …”
These are some of the lines in the track, which signified a journey that would take them to stardom, where along the way; Evance Meleka would free himself from his double act with Kankhunda to collaborate with several artists.
I suspect that when Evance collaborated with controversial gospel artist George Mkandawire to release tracks ‘Mwalawo’ and ‘Manga Patanthwe’ he realized how sweet it sounds to do tracks that are gospel.
A short while since this attempt, he declared himself a ‘Gospel Artist’ and I have no reservations with his decision because the effort he showed in the tracks cuts him above the average acts that are polluting the gospel music arena.
He has talked more about how he thinks this is his calling to serve the people with word of salvation other than encouraging them to keep on sinning through secular music.
My problem with Evance comes where he has decided to become an Oliver Mtukudzi copycat which has instead turned him into an impressionist shame.
If I ask the people reading this who have listened to Evance to tell me whether or not he is one of the few gifted guys with golden voice, none will raise up their hands to disagree with me.
Meaning, Evance’s voice is unexploited gold which only he can take care of and nurture as time goes by.
Meleka has ‘debuted’ his gospel music career with tracks where he has imitated Oliver Mtukudzi unashamedly.
Those of you who have never heard of Oliver, which I doubt very much, would benefit from his biography. He began performing in 1977 when he joined the Wagon Wheels, according to Wikipedia, a band that also featured Thomas Mapfumo.
It says their single, "Dzandimomotera", went gold and Tuku's first album followed, which was also a major success. Mtukudzi is also a contributor to Mahube, Southern Africa's "super group".
His husky voice has become the most recognized voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond.
Oliver is also member of Zimbabwe's KoreKore tribe, Nzou Samanyanga as his totem, he sings in the nation's dominant Shona language along with Ndebele and English.
Wikipedia also says Oliver incorporates elements of different musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as "Tuku Music".
“Mtukudzi has had a number of tours around the world. He has been on several tours in the UK, US and Canada to perform for large audiences.
Unlike Mapfumo, Mtukudzi has refrained from directly criticizing the repressive government of President Robert Mugabe, perhaps because he still lives in the country.
However, some of his most emotive hits prodded the aging authoritarian ruler, including "Ndakuvara," which bemoans the political violence engineered by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and "Wasakara (You Are Getting Old)," which most Zimbabweans took as a direct plea for Mugabe to retire.
He is the father of five children and has two grandchildren.Two of his children are also musicians. His son Sam Mtukudzi, a successful musician in his own right, died in a car accident in March 2010. Mtukudzi also has four sisters and one brother, who died. He enjoys swimming in his guitar-shaped swimming pool, has released 49 albums and cannot remember the number of awards he has won.”
If you read on Wikipedia such a beautiful biography of Oliver Mtukudzi you will agree with me that any serious musician who has a career ahead of him would not do such a foolish act.
There are several international publications that tell stories abut this great son of Africa. He question would then be, is Evance Meleka indeed serious he wants to copy this guy and make it big?
Already everyone who has shown love for Evance Meleka music is now very angry that such a talent has now decided to reduce himself to a sideshow.
It is surprising that he has taken this road when he broke the ground as Evance Meleka. As I am writing about this right now, I am wondering as to what Evance was thinking when he decided to abandon his music style and started copying Mtukudzi.
If this is what he has decided, are we going to have a biography that one would get to at the click of a button?
Will the name ‘Evance Meleka’ be respected even in posterity if he has decided to bury all that talent with this impressionist shame?
Musicians should not only help each other financially, you need to guide one another on career direction, surely Evance Meleka has veered off the road and somebody needs to get him back on the track if he has to achieve anything…

1 comment:

Pearson Nkhoma said...

I come again here with total agreement in what you have written. Too bad that Malawian musicians dont rarely put their songs on on-line stores. For example, my favourite artist, Mbenjere, I can not find any song which I can buy on Amazon.

May be because Malawian Banks have not adopted the system. But what the purpose of having a debt or credit card which only works on ATM and we can hardly use the same on online stores. Maybe with the valuation of our currency to its true value with international currency can make us now have the opportunity to trade on line. Accept my apologies for drifting, but I believe that Malawian Artists can hardly reach the international market if they only rely on OG-Issaa and colleagues who they always cry-foul 365/24/7.

As an artists conducting review may be you can review the music market and benefits for artists as well. Additionally, this is the Task for Chihana who is the youth and culture minister.

Back to the subject at hand. I would say, copying international artists is a contamination or an epidemic which does not seem to have a breakthrough vaccine so soon. It is a contagious and can be traced back to even some of the recent artists. Lucious Banda copied Paul Banda. We can forgive him if he would allege that it was genetic. But the question that we would put forward is why is he now singing differently to Sir Paul Banda now. Has the genes evolved or he would agree he built his current empire on his brother?

I know people would hate me for what I am about to say. I strongly believe Evison Matafale who we christened as The King of Reggae was also a copycat of Cocoa Tea. May be I am not being patriotic but there are songs by Matafale which sounds like another Cocoa Tea. Is it because Malawians hardly know Cocoa Tea? I am saying this because most artists (especially those doing hiphop) have been copying American underground artists. Underground artists can be defined as those who are not into commercial rap but more of social activists like Immortal Technique or those who are yet to have a breakthrough.

Another one, Limbani Banda copied Peter Torch in everything and named himself the Bush Doctor after Tocrh.

I said earlier on that this is contagious. Ben Michael. Do I need to tell people that he used to copy Paul Ngozi. There is no difference in their voices. This is different to the way Ben, who used to be a distant idol and friend for me, speaks.

Similarly, listening to urban artists like Jolly Bro, one easily understands that he copies Busta Rhymes.

Even my own Mbenjere copies Penny Penny or some dudes from South Africa.

Even Malawian film industry is not spared. Oga!!!!

What do we say of the above. Malawian artists are a copycat bunch who want to build on the creativity of other artistes. As such, I would not be hard on Meleka.

I think the best way to conclude my very long comment is to say what Aimor that "Chirichose chalowa China". What he means is everything is fake.

However, there are others artists in Malawi who have worked hard through their creativity who deserve to be recognised.