Chris Kele flies Malawian flag in South Africa

Treading in the footsteps of some of the finest guitar players the African continent has ever seen, producer and singer Chris Kele is striving to carve a name for himself on the South African music scene.

The musician established himself as a guitarist of repute after a decade on the circuit with Acacias Band and later Ben Michael’s Zigzagers Band.

A couple of years ago, he trekked down South where he has already started attracting attention for his mellow jazz sounds and thrilling productions.

One such artist who has trekked to Chris Kele’s recording booth is top South African artist Ringo for whom he has composed and recorded a song.

Chris Kele in the studio
Chris Kele in the studio

Apart from recording, Chris Kele has established himself as a reputable live performer, often touring the Rainbow Nation and beyond with top South African artists.

“I have a band called Mavume Gurus Live though I play with a lot musicians. I am a recording artist and live performer and so I work with many musicians and I belong to almost four bands,” he told Nyasa Times.

On the South African trail, Chris Kele, who started out doing Rn’B, follows a track of big name Malawian guitarists who have left an indelible mark on the South African music scene.

Chief among them is the Washington DC-based Chris Kandoje who played the lead guitar, recorded, performed and toured with Lucky Dube for most of his career.

And then, obviously, there is the remarkable George Phiri, who performed in the all African super band called Mahube.

Another name that quickly comes to mind is that of Ray Chikapa Phiri, him of Paul Simon’s Graceland and Stimela fame. And finally, the refreshingly creative Erik Paliani, who has already caused ripples on the South African music scene after he produced Hugh Masekela’s ‘Phola’ album as well as Zamajobe’s music.

But against this backdrop, Chris Kele insists that he is his own man and will strive to follow his own path to success.

The musician has recently released his ‘Ulendo’ album whose lead single is Denga Denga

The album, with predominately Yao, Sena and Chichewa songs, boasts of an impressive cast on the production team – with South Africans, Mozambicans, Kenyans and Nigerian making the studio team.

“The music on this album is a fusion of Jazz and African melodies, rhythms and tunes. I personally call my type of music ‘Africulture Jazz’,” he says.

So far, Chris Kele has done two pre-launch performances of the album in South Africa with several others slated from Malawi and Botswana in August.

Chris Kele (R) with saxophonist Rick Deja
Chris Kele (R) with saxophonist Rick Deja

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