NEWS | MUSIC
By Lonjezo Idrissa
Zomba district which is the former capital city of Malawi has many interesting things that any person can point at. For instance, it has the largest and internationally well-known public institution called the University of Malawi, Chancellor College which is nicknamed Chanco, the mother of all colleges and universities in Malawi. This is where many different prominent people around Malawi were educated such as the current Vice President of Malawi, Saulos Chilima, the legends in poetry Akoma Atani Malunga, Robert Chiwamba, and, the late poetry Steve Chimombo, just to mention a few. In terms of music, the institution has produced many musicians such as Viceroy, Phagocyte and on the side of Christian Hip-hop music, it produced one of the talented and multi-skilled artists called Blessme Phiri who is commonly recognised as Blessme in the music industry.
Blessme is a Zomba based Christian hip-hop artist who expresses the importance of poetry and music and the two in his life through his involvement in being both a musician and a poet.
“I do both music and poetry simply for the love of this art and it’s my way of expressing my faith, experience and whatever is in my heart,” said Blessme.
Blesseme further added that music is the channel that he uses to communicate with Jesus Christ as a believer and even to society.
“I also use music to exalt my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and proclaim the gospel to follow young people, “said Blessme.
Blessme is not just a musician by a title but he has travelled a long journey in his music career where he has so far produced a mixtape and an Extended Playlist (EP). The names of the two projects were named based on his real-life experiences.
“The first project was a mixtape which was titled Songs of prodigal Son with 12 songs that were released last year in January 2019. This mixtape is a reflection of how I went away from the presence of the Father (God) and struggled with sin but God welcomed me back. So my life was more less like a journey of the Prodigal Son on Luke Chapter 15 in the Christian Bible. In August 2019, I proceeded my musical journey by dropping an EP titled Thupi ndi Mzimu with 7 songs. The EP was given that name to depict that now I am back to God but now my spirit is wrestling with fleshly desires,” said Blessme.
We normally know that any artist that we see or hear or read about has a beginning and as to Blessme, he started writing and composing songs when he was a kid and through inspiration from his elder brother who is both a musician and producer.
“I started writing and composing songs when I was a young boy, between 7 to 8 years old. My elder brother was the one who inspired me to become an artist also. His name is Arthur Phiri who is commonly known as Spycat and he is both a musician and a producer,” said Blessme.
While in secondary school, I started listening to gospel hip-hop music and this is because it gave and still gives me more room to say a lot in one song and to simply express better what is in my heart,” Blessme added.
Some of the favourite song artists that Blessme likes include international artist like Bizzle, Shai Linne, Evangel and Laureen Daigle, and in Malawi these include; David Kalirani, Masomphenya, Nthabi, Yung B, Zouble Z among others.
Throughout his musical journey as a Christian Hip-hop artist, Blessme has encountered many challenges of which major challenges include lack of parental support and lack of income and support to promote the musical career.
“As a young person, I believe I could have achieved a lot but due to lack of parental support, I stopped doing active music until I graduated from college and become independent. These days, an artist needs to have more money especially when you don’t have connections to connect your music,” said Blessme
The artist uttered that he has been for two years since he started working on serious music projects and was also part of a called Kingdom Movement (KMT) which is a Christian group at Chanco.
“I can say it’s been two years now since I started working on serious musical projects but even before that, my 4 years at Chancellor College as a student, I can say I was in a campus-based Christian group called Kingdom Movement which does Urban Gospel Music,” said Blessme.
Apart from being both a musician and a poet, Blessme is also a Graphic Designer, and currently working as a Communications Officer at Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM).
When the artist was asked as to how he manage to do all these activities at the same time, Blessme responded that Time Management is vital for the success for all of them.
“Time management is important. I mostly utilise on weekends or holidays to record music or videos. When it comes to designing, I mostly use the after-work hours. When it comes to composing and writing music, it is something that just comes anytime, whether I am travelling, or at church, in-office or at home,” said Blessme.
For the time he has been producing songs, he has worked quite very much with SLYC, who is one of Zomba’s musical artist and producer and he named him (SLYC) as his favourite producer. Also, Blessme admires TNO and Manifest as some of his favourite producers in Malawi.
When he was asked if he could come up with a song with any musician, Blessme responded that there are a lot of musicians that he would like to collaborate with though it is very hard for him to choose. In his opinion, Laureen Daigle, who is one of his favourite singers, is the one that he would like to have a collaboration song with all because of how her song compositions, lyrical content and beautiful voice.
On collaboration with secular artists as a Christian Hip-hop artist, Blessme responded that it all depends by referring to the Christian Bible.
“The Bible warns as of being an equally yolked so for a Christian, I don’t have to collaborate on a song which is promoting ungodly message. But I can work with any artist even the secular ones if we are having a good message to deliver together on issues like health, environmental care, development, patriotism and others,” said Blessme.
For the upcoming musicians, Blessme impart to them to be hardworking in their way to their goals in life.
“The key message is ‘work hard’ and be patient! Music needs investing a lot of time, learning, resources and energy. So hardworking is a key. Also, patience is vital because most upcoming artists have given up early after being let down by critics, lack of media support plus the long-time taken whilst underground. But when you are patient, you can get where you wanna be no matter how long it takes to get there,” said Blessme.
During his free time, he likes listening to music, watching movies and soccer since he is a Wanderers and Chelsea fan, and playing FIFA.