He has kept the tradition of folk music alive in Zambia. His love, dedication and vision for folk music is unwavering. He recently launched his fourth album titled, “I am Lenshina”, signed to Lusaka based record Label Mojo Music. This is none other than Mumba Yachi (MY), Zambian Award winning folk musician, whose name has become synonymous with folk music in Zambia.
In an interview with LusakaVoice(LV), Mumba shares his passion for folk music.
L.V Since the inception of your musical career, what has the journey been like?
M.Y The journey has been rough and smooth at the same time. I say rough in terms of the means to produce an album and put it in the market to be heard. On the other hand very smooth because of the music itself. My music is very unique which has given me a name and a platform to showcase my talent.
Back then when I produced my first three albums, it was not easy financially. By then I never had a producer or a music label, only my father used to help me. As a small-scale farmer, my father would just give me whatever he managed. My father is my first producer. He supported me from the beginning. I don’t do any other thing except for singing.
LV When did you start singing?
MY I can’ t really specify but, I made the decision to become a musician at the age of 13. However, I was 24 when I launched my first album. So basically I can actually count the birth of my music career from 2009.
LV Why folk music?
MY That is the music we were born into. I am a villager myself and I used to listen to folk songs, people playing African drums and singing. Folk is the type of music I grew up listening too. So when I ventured into music, I just said I would sing what I felt. Folk music is in my blood. I thank God that I made the decision quite early, some people only realize the type of music they want to be singing when they are old. I love everything African even my name is just African. I just feel this genre of music is original. I like the way people are responding to the music. People always say that my music makes them feel at home, connected and gives them that sense of belonging as Africans. It makes me feel happy.
L.V Do you think your music has a chance on the international market?
MY I have no doubt that my music can be marketable internationally. The thing is you can try to do other genres of music but the truth is you can’t really do it better than them. Music from your own land is the one you can market out there. Its just like going to music festivals, its not a competition but a platform to share music from different parts of the world. For me, it is important to do folk as it is the heart of where I belong.
L.V Can you share a memorable moment in your career so far?
MY The highlight of my career is very complicated because it is not what people expect me to tell them. One time, I was in a garden compound where I was visiting an orphanage. I found the little children, about 500 of them singing my song together like a national anthem. This is a moment that stands out for me. I felt appreciated and told myself that I would continue with this journey no matter what.
L.V Which has been the lowest point in you career?
MY My lowest is very funny. I went to perform live on TV sometime back in 2010 but realized that my guitar had been tampered with. It was just out of tune. I had to improvise and did an accapella though. I don’t know if viewers on the day noticed but it was just the worst in my life.
L.V Are you benefitting from your music financially??
MY Nowadays things are flowing easily. People are beginning to embrace live shows. They are starting to realize that musicians can live out of music. We obtain most of the money from shows rather than from selling our CDs. Piracy is really affecting us. People should understand that artists must live off their music and buy original CDs. Piracy will never end but as musicians we should make our CDs affordable so that people can buy.
LV Where do you see yourself in five years?
MY In the next five year I must be recognized globally. I believe I have what it takes to be there.
LV What would be your advice to upcoming artists?
MY Believe in yourself and don’t imitate anyone. Search inside and you will find something unique that you can bring out. Take your time and be you.
LV How do you balance your career and social life?
MY My social life is not in the public domain because people should only remember me as an artist, not as a father or husband.
I encourage people to listen to the research I did in my fourth album “I am Lenshina”. I tried to come up with an album that stands the test of time.