The rise and rise of Maskal

Though he has been in the music industry for not more than two years, 26-year-old Maskal is far from a stranger.

At the moment, with only one album ‘Nthawi’ and a DVD to his credit, the Afro R&B singer, real name Masiye Kasaru, is now rated to be one of the top musicians in the country.

In the just ended year, the Blantyre-based vocalist was among the most booked artists, performing at almost all the major events and known entertainment joints across the country.

Maskal: Good tunes

His songs, including hit singles ‘Udalire’ and ‘Wa CV’, were and are still among the most played on Malawi airwaves.

Singjay

Bridging the gap between urban and rural music fans, the Maskal plays in the same league with rooted artists Lucius Banda, Black Missionaries, Skeffa Chimoto and Dan Lu, the local giants he has shared stage with.

Apart from being chosen brand ambassador for one of the country’s mobile phone network and service provider, Access Communications Limited, the ‘Udalire’ hit-maker, also known as SingJay among his followers, had an opportunity to perform at the Big Brother Amplified TV show in South Africa.

The silky voice songwriter, whose music career has rewarded him a Toyota Will VS automobile, courtesy of Access Communications, was also one of the few artists that had a rare opportunity to perform on the same stage with renowned US singer/rapper Sean Kingston during his Malawi tour.

He also headlined the Lake of Stars music festival with international stars Freshlyground from South Africa and UK’s Foals alongside his compatriots Lucius Banda and Black Missionaries, the reggae giants he featured on his new Christmas song ‘Wabadwa’.

Maskal, who is signed to Malawi’s blossoming record company, Nde’feyo Entertainment, has only one word to describe the just ended year 2011. He says it had been “amazing”, being the year that his dream came true.

“I grew up admiring so many successful musicians, with a dream of becoming a successful musician myself, and 2011 had been the year my dream came true,” enchanted Maskal told Nyasa Times in an interview.

‘Best Male’ winner and ‘Best R&B’ nominee of the 2011 Malawian Music Awards (MMA), Maskal singles out hard work and the team at his record label as the forces behind his achievements.

“I have been working hard from the word go because I know without hard work I can’t make it and besides that, the dedicated team at Nde’feyo [Entertainment] has always been by my side.”

Acknowledging that ‘Udalire’, ‘Wa CV’ and ‘Ndiwe Wanga’ were the tracks that made Maskal, the singer believes that all the thirteen tracks on his debut album are equally important.

He says tracks such as ‘Hey’, ‘Ndimakukonda’, ‘Kuwala Kwako’, ’Ndamasulidwa’, ’Chikondi si Ndalama’ and the title track have also been enjoying airplay and requests even during live shows.

Celebrity

As he is deemed “the most successful urban musician”, Maskal however quickly says that he cannot be over the moon because he is not yet there.

“You might point at me as one of the top musicians but I’m still young. If it was a bicycle I’d have said I just started peddling.

“I want to get to where Lucius and the Black Missionaries are, releasing many albums and giving Malawians good music for so many years. There’s a lot that I have to do and am still in the process of learning,” he says.

Maskal reveals that he has learnt so much from the likes of legendary Lucius Banda, The Blacks, Skeffa and Dan Lu both on and off stage.

He describes them as artists that have vast experience in Malawian music and says it has been a great experience working with them.

One of the artists who have enjoyed so much publicity in the year, Maskal also gives credit to the country’s media houses, radio and club Djs, his fans as well as the corporate world for their support since he launched his career in 2010.

Despite basking in the glory of accomplishments, the artist points out that it has been hard to be Maskal the celebrity musician and him as an individual as “it is hard to be yourself when you are on top.”

He also says being likened with the old-timers has left him in the fix during live performances because people expect a lot from him, forgetting he can only last an hour on stage since he has only one album to his credit.

“It becomes hard for me when am having live shows. People expect me to last two or three hours on stage like Lucius, The Blacks or Skeffa when I only have one album to offer,” he says.

He however says that pressure has helped him mature and know what music lovers want.

“It’s a challenge but it has helped me to appreciate what people want. Now I know what Malawians expect from Maskal as an artist and I promise them exactly what they want this year and throughout my music career.

“I have written many beautiful songs and this year [2012], it will be fireworks,” promises Maskal, who recently released a Christmas song ‘Wabadwa’ featuring the Black Missionaries.

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