THELMA BWALYA, Lusaka
DESPITE having clocked a quarter of a century in the industry, James “Chamanyazi” Ngoma, who was once sighted as the bridge between the old and new Zambian musicians, is not about to slow down with his work in the studio.
Having released a single titled Mailesi last November, which has done relatively well even featuring on selected charts on some radio stations, Chamanyazi says he has been buoyed by the response to now make him go for a full album, which will be his ninth career album since bursting on the scene in 1994.
After he released Chamanyazi in 1994, which earned him his moniker, he was signed by Muvi Studios, where they did an album titled Dyonko, which had the song the hit song Diya Lelo. The Dyonko album also featured the likes of Keith Mutale, Saga and Betty Bulo.
Most of the artistes who featured on Dyonko have since taken different paths with Bulo now a fashion designer but Chamanyazi is still going strong with his recording career.
“I’ve been performing as usual like in the past. I do shows almost every week though at the moment, I do more of corporate shows than the clubbing business that we used to do when we started,” Chamanyazi says.
“My last album was in 2015. I did an album titled Positive Living; there’s a song that featured Chef, Indy-K and a few other artistes. It had 10 songs and did quite good because at the moment, I think the market is so much saturated, so usually, if you don’t know your market, you end up losing direction.
“But I know my market, and I know how to advertise whatever I release, so, I think it did very well at ZNBC and at sounds, the sales were ok, I wouldn’t complain much.”
Chamanyazi is expecting his new album, where he has already featured Petersen Zagaze, to be ready by the end of next month.
“I am encouraged by the response I got from the single that I released. I don’t do so much of live albums, I do so much of the live performances,” he says.
“At the moment, I produce myself and my co-producer is See Magic. So far, I have only featured Petersen and he did justice to the song, it sounds very mature. I am yet to feature other young guys, those who can adjust to my music because it’s me who is featuring them. Whoever feels they can sing or adjust to what I do, I would love them to come forward and say they want to feature on any of the tracks that I am working on.”
Chamanyazi says having a lot of musicians on the scene and producing different styles is not a problem for him, but what bothers him most, is the lack of creativity among many so-called musicians.
“Having a lot of genres coming up on the scene is not a problem, the problem with me is most of our musicians are not as creative as they are supposed to be. They just like to copy and paste or copy and sing in vernacular; that is not being talented. You can copy an idea from somewhere but it should be an inspiration,” he says.
“That is the one thing which is even limiting Zambian music to even get to the international standards. If you listen to Nigerian, you cannot be mistaken that it is Nigerian music. Even if its modern hip-hop, it’s got its own identity. Even if you listen to Casper Nyovest from South Africa today, you will tell that he doesn’t sound like Jay Z because he’s got his own style.”