Zambian musician launches album in Canada
Sichilima’s nine-track CD launch at NOW Lounge was held under the auspices of Toronto based African music promoter, Music Africa. The launch, which was attended by some Zambians and other Africans living in Toronto, also attracted scores of Canadians and other music stars. The launch of Walasa was preceded by a video depicting tourism attractions in Zambia. Responding to a press query sent to Toronto, Music Africa Artistic Director Nadine McNulty, said African music lovers at the show danced the Friday evening away. “The launch was a great success. The evening started with a screening of a tourism video from Zambia to put the audience in the mood. Music Africa president Otimoi Oyemu opened the evening with a short talk about the organisation’s work . . . There were quite a few Zambians in the crowd and Kaluba, the President of the community here in Toronto spoke to the audience. It was a full house when Chasaya and his five-member group came on stage. Sichilima’s voice was impressive and his performance really showed the diversity and quality of his music. People really enjoyed the music and danced until the end,” said McNulty. At the begginng of the launch Michael Stohr, Public Relations Manager for Music Africa, spoke about the upcoming Afrofest festival and other events while McNulty briefed the crowd about Zambian music as well as introduced Sichilima and his band members. Thaddy Ulzen, the founder of Music Africa, 18 years ago, was a special guest in attendance. Another Special guest Donne Roberts, a JUNO award winning guitarist from Madagascar joined in on a couple of songs. Without stating the figures McNulty said many CDs were sold to the crowd. Walasa is a collection of nine songs that features Sichilima’s silky vocals with a unique blend of contemporary and traditional rhythms. Literally Walasa, in two of Zambia’s languages-Bemba and Nyanja means, “You have hit the target”, or “You have hit the nail on the head”. Walasa encompasses contemporary sounds that have influenced and served as a lullaby for many African artists and other professionals in the Diaspora. Sichilima is an energetic performer whose entertaining dance moves have earned him awards at various dance competitions. According to McNulty the evening featured Sichilima on vocals, Walter McLean on percussion, Chester Manoharan on bass, Dave West on guitar, and guest backup vocalists while Roberts made a guest appearance. Sichilima is regarded as one of Zambia’s best singers, songwriters and performers. He has been inspired and influenced by a number of Zambian and foreign artists such as The Witch, Ackim “The Voice” Simukonda, Teddy Chilambe, PK Chishala, the renowned Zambian musicians who are now long gone. Musicians of international acclaim that have inspired Sichilima include Tabu Ley Rochereau, Salif Keita, Lokua Kanza, Luther Vandross and Peabo Bryson, among others. It is these influences that have allowed Sichilima to develop a sound that incorporates rhythm and blues with traditional Zambian folk music. A fresh voice of the Zambian music renaissance, Sichilima is playing a pivotal role in exposing the rich Zambian music genres of Kalindula, Makewane, Manchancha and Zambezi to a North American audience. In 2004 Chasaya played alongside The Sakala Brothers and Rapper Louie X, fellow Zambians at Afrofest in a show widely acclaimed as a breakthrough for Zambian music in North America. Sichilima also collaborated and worked with Juno award winning jazz artist Kenny Kirkwood, recording artist Brian Allosery, and has performed alongside famous Congolese musician Papa Wemba and the Royal Drummers of Burundi.