Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Enigmatic Paul Banda

Paul Banda – eer, Sir Paul Banda still strums his guitar and sings with the same high fetched resonance and aptness as he has done since the 1980s when his musical career kicked off.

From the onset I need to disabuse you that I am not the perfect connoisseur when it comes to picking apart his work of art; which is, however, not the same thing as not being able to appreciate consistency that this larger than life music performer has demonstrated over the years.

I have seen Paul Banda perform with Alleluya and Anthu Ambiri Band both of Balaka, and Mingoli Band. While one or two challenges would crop up with the aiding band players, his act has always been marked with some precision and perfection that comes with long years of disciplined practice and dedication.

I have seen some artists, who because of one reason or another – ranging from politics to search for greener pastures outside the borders – stayed out of music and consequently also ended up staying out of touch on their return.

For a long spell, Paul Banda was in hibernation and everyone including yours truly thought we have heard last of his musical exploits.

He has over the period that he has returned, proven us all wrong with performances that stills rings loudly, reminding us why he is a music pioneer that started performing when it was politically impossible to express oneself musically.

While it is clear for most ‘music returnees’ that they are struggling with vocal delivery and stage presence, he has taken it up with aplomb, dispatching one hit after the other that leaves the patronage with little choice but to sing along.

What is more striking is the humility that one can clearly see in his approach to doing everything musical. Lately he has been performing in places that one like Paul Banda would be too proud to go to.

He has a younger brother Lucius who has made it big in the entertainment cycles that by just coughing everything would start falling in places for him to take advantage of and take the easy route.

Paul Banda has gone beyond himself and respected the artist in him to perform for everyone and everybody without restricting them with higher gate fees or pride.

One has in the recent past seen posters announcing his performances not only with young artists but also venues that you would not expect him to grace.

In such cases one may be forgiven to conclude that delivery to such places will befit its status but not with Paul Banda who always gives out a full package performance conveyed with devoutness of an artist who respects his audience, his achievements notwithstanding.

Besides the many artists that have learnt from Paul including his younger brother, what he is currently doing at the moment is another lesson whose students should be these younger artists that have tested fame and are being carried away.

It is a lesson that teaches that the constituency that a musician represents is unlike that which politicians embodies for it is the most truthful one that really rewards you commensurate with not only their artistic delivery but also how they carry themselves.

Like I repeatedly say, the body of work that has signatures of Paul Banda all over it should have been enough to serve him financially until the end of this passage. But he is still working hard and not getting the financial prize that he deserves.

While I am still in full praise of Paul, I want to end up this entry today with the question that I ask all the time. What is wrong with the Malawi music industry? 

Elsewhere one just releases a single that does well on the market and will flourish in wealth while the most of the celebrated Malawian artist with plenty shining productions will still flounder in penury.         


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