Musician Lawi reveals late Isaac Mkukupa influenced his music journey: Tributes pour in for Malawi’s father of jazz

“One day I’ll tell how the great Isaac Mkukupa influenced my music journey since I was a boy,” says musician Lawi on the passing on of Malawi’s father of jazz, Isaac Mkukupa.

The legendary talented guitarist, father to show diva, Rudo Mkukupha Chakwera, died in the United Kingdom where he was based.

Isaac Mkukupha

Writing his tribute on his Facebook page, Lawi said Mukupha “was more than a music mentor but also a father”.

“From watching him and friends rehearse at our house as a very young boy ku Kwacha [Njamba suburb location in Blantyre] to discussing music with him, was a dream come true. We recently got in touch and he was playing bass for one of my performances in the UK.

“It’s a sad day but I’m grateful to God for his life and influence. He inspired a great musician in me. He was a gift to the world.

Rest well, Jazzman, rest well wawa 🙏🏽🙏🏽 I glorify God for you,” signs off Lawi — also regarded as a great jazzman.

In his eulogy, Madda Chinguwo described Nkukupha as “the guitar wizard, trumpet specialist, trombone king, the Jazz King”.

Lawi

“This gentleman could play any musical instrument. Many Bands in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s would ask him to play instruments for them — that’s how good he was.

“I remember him playing music with different Bands at Hotel Chisakalime, Shire Highlands Hotel, Jazz Cafe and at [entertainment] Fair shows (Ku Feya pa Kamuzu upper stadium and at Chichiri trade fair grounds).

“His love for his children was second to none — I grew up with the Nkukuphas in Njamba and Chitawira and went to secondary school with his children Edward, Rudo and Matamando. He was such a cool humble dad until his death tonight.

“Rest in Peace Maestro. To the Nkukuphas, please accept my heartfelt condolences and may you find solace in Jesus’ mighty name in this immensely difficult time🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

Gibson Nachiye also attests how other performing music groups utilised his immense talent and recalls being part of the band during the evangelical crusade of legendary Reinhard Bonkke Crusade in 1986 while Jonathan Tembo says he reminisces the time Mkukupa played his great bass guitar at the Living Waters Praise Band in early 2000s.

South Africa-based Malawian singer and guitarist, Erik Paliani — who supported that country’s trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, singer and composer, Hugh Masekela’s shows and productions, said Mkukupa’s death is a blow to the creative industry as he was regarded as the father of jazz in the country.

As many people of the younger generation confessed of not knowing Mkukupa at at, Charles Nyirenda came is to explain that the bass guitar maestro “was a huge music force with a famous jazz band TruTones that dominated Blantyre in the 60s through the early 80s”.

“It’s from this group that late Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma, Bright Nkhata and one lead guitarist Longwe emerged. Longwe later left Malawi to join Hugh Masekela’s group in Swaziland and moved with him to South Africa.

“In his time, he played guitar and he was also a lead vocalist of top quality. A real legend in his own right. The last time I met him was when we worked together on a project at Kotecha’s place in Xriswick down town Ginnery Corner-Blantyre around 2006-08 before he left for the United Kingdom to pursue other missions.

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Mahesh Kotecha
Mahesh Kotecha
8 months ago

A dear friend from the late 60’s when I met him playing as a young man at the iconic Safari.
We were close all the way till he left for UK.
Undeniably a legend if the Malawi music scene.
Will be truly missed…..recall the lovely night’s spent at Mt Soche …..the famous ‘Tru Tones’

God bless !

May your soul rest in eternal peace…….you deserve it, my brother.

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