LusakaVoice (L.V) caught up with Zambia celebrated songstress, Yvonne Mwale (YM) and she opened up about her musical journey so far.
L.V From the time you ventured into music till now, do you feel accomplished? Are you where you want to be musically?
Y.M Yes, definitely. I always wanted to do music as a profession and I’m happy that I can survive from music. People in various parts of the world seem to like it. But still, there’s more to come and I work on reaching further.
L.V What really inspired you to be a singer? Do you see yourself doing something else and enjoying it apart from singing?
Y. M It’s hard to say, I had this wish since I was a child. My mom was a member of Masiye Band and my biological father was a popular guitar player from Congo – so I guess I got it in the genes.
L.V How does your childhood influence your music?
Y.M When I was young, my parents listened often to music such as Miriam Makeba, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Brenda Fasi and so on. Of course that somehow influenced me. After I lost my parents I experienced a number of things I don’t wish anybody to experience. I had friends that went through real hardships in live. Some of the things I have seen or experienced myself are found in my lyrics today.
L.V Having lost both parents at a tender age, who supported and encouraged you in your endeavour to be an artist?
Y.M Initially nobody. I lived for a couple of years on the streets. In this situation it’s all about surviving. But when I came back to Lusaka I soon met Sir Jones. He made me join B-Sharp and encouraged me a lot. That helped me to start getting an income from music.
L.V Some people say it is difficult to be an artist especially when you are a woman, what has been your experience like, as a woman in music?
Y.M I don’t know why it should be more difficult for a woman. I think some women just make it more difficult for themselves by trying to be so sexy. So why should people be interested in their music when they try to direct the focus on other qualities?
L.V Which has been the highest point in your career so far?
Y.M Recording my latest album in a live recording studio with some of the best musicians from Europe and Africa.
L.V How many albums do you have to date and what are your future plans?
Y.M I did one album with my former band Nyali and released two solo albums so far. Our production is working on a concept for the next album, but it won’t be out before mid 2016. Currently, we are also preparing a big international tour with a production company from Belgium.
L.V Who is your role model?
Y.M Jesus Christ.
L.V What is your take on the issue of piracy?
Y.M Well, it’s something we have to take seriously. I don’t think it’s a subject the artists can solve. I see the record labels and distribution and marketing people as the ones to take care of that.
L.V How can Zambian artists make their music marketable internationally?
Y.M I think they first of all need to work on the quality of their music and recordings. As a next step it’s important to team up with the right partners to be introduced to the international music business. And it’s good to accept the advice of those people who really know the business.
L.V What is your advice to upcoming artists?
Y.M Before rushing into recording something take your time to work on your skills. Don’t forget music is a business and your business is always as successful as the product you deliver.
L.V How do you balance your career and family?
Y.M My job allows me to work most of the time from home. That’s an advantage. When traveling for concerts we try to be there together as a family. Otherwise we get a lot of support from my parents in law, they love to spend time with their grandchildren.
L.V Of the awards you have won so far, which one do you treasure the most?
Y.M Becoming a finalist at the RFI Prix Découverte in 2013.
L.V Which has been the lowest point in you career?
Y.M Shifting to Tanzania and starting almost from scratch again and then shifting to Germany and starting all over again.