Malawian singer to feature on Baaba Maal album: Esau Mwamwaya

Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya continues to create quiet ripples around in the music world.

The musician, who is one half of the Malawian/Swedish duo The Very Best, is a crowd favourite on international festivals having toured Europe, America and Asia over the past year.

The Very Best is a collaboration between London-based DJ and producer Johan Karlberg and Esau Mwamwaya, a singer from LilongweMalawi. Their music has been described as an Afro-Western mix of dance, hip-hop, pop, and the traditional music of Malawi.

This December, The Very Best travel to Senegel where they will record an album with international music star Baaba Maal apart from performing at superstar’s annual festival.

Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya

Baaba Maal is well known in Africa and internationally is probably Senegal’s most famous musician after Youssou N’Dour. In addition to acoustic guitar, he also plays percussion. He has released several albums, both for independent and major labels. In July 2003, he was made a UNDP Youth Emissary.

Karlberg, the London-based Swedish producer and DJ and the other half of The Very Best, confirmed the December trip.

“On the 4th of December, we fly to Dakar to be special guests at Baaba Maal’s own festival called Blues De Fleuves. The festival is being held in Baaba Maal’s home town of Podor, in north Senegal. There will be more than one million people at the festival and we will play as The Very Best right before Baaba’s headline show on the 8th of December, in an arena for 80 000 people.

“This is our first time playing in Senegal but Baaba Maal has been a good friend of ours for several years. I will also be producing Baaba Maal’s new record and after the festival and we will stay at Baaba’s house for one week and work on music together, having Esau sing on some songs for Baaba’s record. There will also be some other great western musicians travelling with us, Winston Marshall (the guitarist/banjo player from Mumford & Sons) and Justin Young (the singer and guitarist from the band The Vaccines) are also coming with us to play together with us and work on music with us,” said Karlberg.

On his part, Mwamwaya said he is ecstatic about the trip and looks forward to working with the world renowned Baaba Maal.

“Baaba Maal is a great friend of ours who has collaborated with us on some of our music including a song in our last album MTMTMK which we released last year,” he said.

Esau Mwamwaya was born in Mzuzu, Malawi, but grew up in the capital, Lilongwe, where he played drums in various bands. He played with numerous artists, including Masaka Band and Evison Matafale.

In 1999 he moved to London and while running a second-hand furniture shop in Clapton, East London, Esau sold a bicycle to the producer from the band Radioclit, Etienne Tron.

Radioclit’s studio was on the same street as Esau’s shop, and eventually, Esau became friends with both Tron and Johan Karlberg aka Radioclit.[1]

In 2008, the three men worked together to create a project known as “The Very Best,” releasing a critically lauded free mixtape through the label GREEN OWL. The mixtape features samples and collaborations with other indie artists, including M.I.A.Vampire WeekendArchitecture in HelsinkiBLK JKSSantigold and The Ruby Suns. The songs are sung in Chichewa.

The Very Best produced their first full-length album, Warm Heart of Africa, released digitally in August 2009 and released physically in October 2009 by GREEN OWL and Moshi Moshi. The album features collaborations with Ezra Koenig and M.I.A.. The title track from the album, Warm Heart of Africa, won the World Beat Song award at the 9th Annual Independent Music Awards.

The Very Best is also featured on a track on Crookers‘ debut album, Tons of Friends.


Watch The Very Best’s video Yoshua Alikuti here:

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