After a few hurdles, Lulu finds his voice

There was a time in the not so distant past when it seemed evident that music star Lulu was destined to go down the path of many promising upstarts who never get to fulfill their potential.

The path of near stardom in the Malawian music industry is littered with the names artists that self-destructed and suffocated in mid-leap, their careers cut short in a cloud of bloated egos and a know-it-all attitude.

And although Lulu, born Lawrence Khwisa, has been a constant feature on the local scene, he has never been recognized a bonafide star, with critics and enthusiasts alike pointing to his inconsistency and lack of seriousness as some of the factors that act against him.

But after a couple of years performing under the hawkish eyes of Lucius Banda, the finest musician on the local music scene, Lulu has learnt his lesson, and he has learnt it well.

Lulu

Evidence of his growth as a songwriter and performer orchestrates itself in his latest offering Ndakudziwa ­– entirely recorded by himself at his Mathumela Studios.

Despite the great dexterity that he adeptly displays on the vocals and the instrumentation, Lucius Banda’s influence is evident in the songwriting and even voice projection in some of the songs – which is probably why this album is such a hit.

Listening to Ndinena, one cannot help notice how heavily Lucius-influenced this ballad is. Take out Lulu’s voice and replace it with Lucius and you have another definite hit.

This can be replicated on several songs, such as the gospel hit Mlondore and the ballad Mtima Wakana where the playful use of words and phrases to deliver a serious message has made Lucius the force that he is today.

But, personally, I don’t think there is need to blame Lulu for wanting to ‘sound’ like Lucius because the mentor-protégé distinction is always one difficult to make even on the international music scene.

That said, stamps his mark and defines

Whereas Lucius is boisterous and sassy, Lulu is sleek and savvy, enchanting with his voice and smooth guitar skills.

Lulu is a romantic at heart, his smooth voice soothing ladies’ broken hearts on the love grooves that litter this delightful album.

It is music that you can play on a candlelit dinner on any given day – that is the sheer beauty of Lulu’s music.

But like the good Christian that he is, Lulu dies not forget his maker as he sings his praises in Mlondore, Tatsalala Pang’ono and Ndilembeni.

Over the years, there have been fears in the music industry that there would be a gradual decline driven by the lack of serious musicians to carry the mantle and play serious music.

If Skeffa Chimoto has answered the pessimists with his new album Chikondi, then Lulu provides his answer with this all-weather album Ndakudziwa.

Lulu performing in Dublin, Ireland to an audience of Malawians

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