You can do it!
“HARD times are no excuse to quit,” says Australia-based musician Larry Maluma. Maluma, who left Zambia 29 years ago, advises upcoming musicians to be dedicated to their respective music projects because the speed of success is limited only by one’s dedication and what one is willing to sacrifice.
This week, Maluma shares the secrets of success in taking one’s music to international levels.
Maluma is an accomplished Christian musician, composer and singer. He sings a combination of English and Zambian languages, including Nyanja, Bemba and Tonga, adopting styles which he has used to blend his own brand of root music. The resulting unique sound has put some of his songs at the top of Zambian music charts.
From the time he has been living Down Under, Maluma has broadened the Australian perspective of African music. He has released 11 albums and more than 15 music videos which have been aired on the ABC programme, Rage and other TV music programmes in Australia, ZNBC, Zimbabwean and South African TV stations.
He was born to Moses and Janet Maluma, in a family of 12 children. “I was born in Mazabuka but I was brought up in Lusaka. I started music and playing guitar when I was still staying in Lusaka, having had so much interest in playing guitars. I used to make homemade guitars,” he says.
Maluma’s music career has been a long and tough one, having left Zambia when he was just about to gain fame and having to go and start all over again far from home. His career in music started when he was a youth. He joined and helped strengthen music bands, including the Gravemen, Dig outs, Rikkis Mas Voice Band and others. Currently he leads a band called Larry Maluma and Kalimba in Australia.
“Before I realised my zeal for music, I wanted to be an engineer or train driver. But as years went by my interest of wanting to become an engineer or train driver diminished,” he says.
“I started singing when I was young in the 1970s. Since then I have never backslidden in my musical career. My musical career background was full of obstacles that without persistence, dedication, hard work and consistency, I was not going to make it.
In 1985, I decided to relocate myself to a new place thus left Zambia for Australia and since then I have been living in Australia for 29 years. Nevertheless, I have plans of coming back to Zambia for a visit, there is no place like home.”
Maluma says Zambian languages are featured on many of his songs. “On this note, I appeal to my fellow Zambian musicians to embrace our native languages regardless of they are based,” he says. “Among some of the albums I have released include Tusekelele (Let’s Celebrate). This album was hailed as one of the most impressive albums of 2009 and one of the most admirable albums to be associated with African music.”
Maluma’s first two vinyl releases were Confusion in 1987 and One Man’s Poison in 1989. These were followed by the album Hallelujah in 1991, Man and Woman (1993) and Nuff is Enough (1996). In this album, Larry is joined by some best musicians in Australia. Other albums are Motion (1997) and Roots and Herbs. Makani Angu (My Story) was released in January 2005. This year he launched yet another album, Ndakondwa (I’m Happy), which was released on May 5. “My music career has enabled me to travel to different countries,” he says.
He says he does not just sing reggae. “I have always fused my music with whatever style feels right at the time. I am still trying to create my own sound,” he says. Maluma says among other challenges he faced as a Zambian based in Australia was getting people to listen to something different and making good music with professional musicians.
“Musicians must always think outside the box and consider taking music at international scene. Furthermore, musicians should not just sing music for the sake of fans or money, but should think beyond fans and strive to make impact on people’s lives. Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent,” he says.
“If some other foreign music rhythms have penetrated Zambia, what can stop Zambian musicians from taking their music beyond borders? Some people think musicians just wake up in the morning and compose a song that attracts people’s attention, as simple like that. No! A lot of effort must be put in. All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish and insensitive to the real values of life and this is one of the reasons why some musicians leave the music industry sooner than they came. Hard work is the price for success.”
Maluma adds that it is what is done consistently that brings about success, thus ‘do not do what you cannot continue to deliver’.
“If you want to take your music at international level; be consistent, work on your music every day to make your dreams closer to reality. Hard times are no excuse to quit. Therefore, if you have released some songs which do/did not have an impact on the market, don’t despair. One day you will make your dreams closer to reality,” he says.
Maluma says he wants people to remember him as an artiste who wrote good music. It is that simple. I know you can do it!
with Winston Muleba, Sun 11 May 2014, The Post Newspapers, Zambia postzambia.com/
Bridging The Gap
The Thornbury Theatre will play host to a rare live performance from Zambian musician Maluma, and there will be special guests and giveaways making the event the party it surely deserves to be. This writer could never imagine publishing ten books, so it is with great interest that Inpress asks Maluma how in the world he approaches making a tenthalbum? Is there a sense that, as a musician, he needs to explore different territory with each new record? Or is the music simply in him, demanding to come out? The man himself pays homage to art’s mysterious process, while hinting that music making, for him, is not really something he’s ever thought about not doing.
“I can’t even explain it. I think it just comes out, you know? I’ve been doing it a long time and I really love what I do,” he tells. “You can’t really explain how it works, it just does. As long as you are enjoying what you’re doing it does seem to come easily though.”
Given he has nine other albums in circulation, the question of how Maluma sees Bakaindi in relation to the rest of his work kind of asks itself. He refuses to play favourites, naturally enough, but does concede – also as you would expect – that the music must get better each time he records.
“Oh, they’re all my babies, I don’t think I could ever choose between them,” he chuckles. “But I think there’s always improvement when I do a new album. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a lot of point doing it. I spent a lot of time making the songs on this record, even though some of the songs are from the last recording. I think there’s about four tracks but I just thought I really needed to use them because they felt good.”
Although it’s difficult to categorise this music as anything other than African, Maluma has been in Australia a long time, and there’s a distinct cross-pollination of cultures going on here, enriching and universalising the listening experience. Not the least of these is his choice to sing some songs in English and others in his native tongue of Tonga (not to be confused with Tongan). So then, does all of this add up to make Maluma think of his sound as African-Australian?
“I definitely do. I’ve been here a long time and I can’t avoid the influences that are all around me,” he concurs. “It is African-Australian music. I think it’s fair to say that. I don’t think about it though. Again, it just comes out. The only time I’ve ever really thought about it is a couple of times I’ve been singing something in English and I think to myself that maybe I should try something African. If it doesn’t work I don’t force it. I leave it alone, but it usually works out one way or another. It’s the universal language, music, you know.”
When it comes to his live show, Maluma says he prefers a big sound to a band with the efficiency and compactness of one that’s easy to tour, and it seems there’s never been too much in the way of grievances about any of his gigs.
“I like a big band. I just enjoy the whole thing, you know, even though small bands are easy to take around on a tour. One reason I don’t play a lot is that it’s expensive to get a ten-piece band out on the road. But I’m working on that. Hopefully it’s something I’ll do a lot more of. People seem to have a really good time when they come to the gigs. Everybody’s dancing and having a good time. No one’s ever complained. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and enjoying myself. I hope everyone else does too.”
Larry Maluma will be playing the following dates: Saturday 23 February – The Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne VIC
Tony McMahon, Inpress (Feb 13, 2013) themusic.com.au
Despite two decades of being in “exile”, music export to Australia Larry Maluma still blows hot air to keep Zambian roots music on course internationally.
Being abroad for 27 years does not change anything for Maluma who has shaped up his own style of music fusing in African roots reggae with an influence of jazz, funk, soul and Jamaican ska.
Since his drift to Australia, Maluma’s music has maintained its course in addressing issues of racial harmony, peace and co-existence.
Coming from a humble background, Maluma’s consistence and hard work has put him where he is today.
Echoing from his base in Melbourne in an interview early this week, it was clear that it’s “Till music do us part!” for him as he, a few months ago, rolled out the tenth album since he left this country in 1985.
But his heart is still inclined to Zambia his ancestral roots and dreams of coming back one day hopefully, with his band, Herbs and Roots for a series of shows.
“I would like to think that I will be making music all my life. Oh!, one more thing, I hope to one day bring my band to Zambia for a self indulgence tour,” Maluma reveals.
Maluma’s music which includes ten albums and 16 video clips, is doing very well in Australia and has helped to change that country’s perspective about African roots music.
“My music is doing reasonably well here and I have been living off it since I came. I have some airplay on several radio and television stations around Australia,” Maluma explains.
He decided to go to Australia shortly after recording his hit single Chakolwa followed by Tilailane (Nyanja), Tulayane(Tonga), Walking in the City, Wakana, Ulemu and One to Five, which Teal Record Company wanted to finance for a remix in Zimbabwe.
“Just as things were about to start ticking in Zambia, the opportunity to go to Australia came up and I had to make a decision I made,” Maluma says.
Maluma has played in various Zambian bands like Madzi A Moyo for example, the outfit he performed in alongside former Mosi Oa Tunya member Derrick Ndara Mbao Moyo who was on bass guitar, Rikki Ililonga (Lead), himself on second guitar and Gambian born, Olu Cocker on drums.
27 October 2012
Larry Maluma: Australian based Zambian reggae legend
With a music career spanning over 30 years, Larry Maluma is one of the unsung heroes of Zambian music. Larry was born in Zambia and moved to Australia in 1985. He is an accomplished musician, composer and vocalist and sings a combination of English and his native languages, Nyanja, Bemba and Tonga, adopting styles which he has used to blend his own brand of roots music. The resulting unique sound has put his singles at the top of the Zambian charts.
Larry’s first 2 vinyl releases were Confusion 1987 & One Man’s Poison 1989. These were followed by the albums, Hallelujah 1991, Man & Woman 1993, Nuff is Enough 1996, Motion 1997 & Roots & Herbs 2000. Larry Maluma is joined by some of the best musicians in Australia to present 13 tracks of calypso/reggae/ska and funk on the album Nuff is Enough.
Since arriving in Australia Larry has broadened the Australian perspective of African music. He has released 10 albums and 16 video clips which have been aired on the ABC program (Rage, Channel 31 and other music programs). Larry has also released a number of singles, “Lord Help Me” remix of “I am Breathing”, the lead off track from his 2000 album Roots & Herbs, which was remixed by one of Australia’s leading producers, Simon Polinski, who has worked with many great contemporary musicians including Paul Kelly, David Bridie, Yothu Yindi and New Guinea’s Telek and the latest, ‘Jah Nation’ from his tenth album BAKAINDI.
The album Roots & Herbs received positive reviews, garnered critical acclaim and enlightened those who purchased the album and audiences at live performances, to his infectious sound. The album was two years in the making with Larry composing some songs whilst in Zambia in 1999. Since it’s release and launch Roots & Herbs has been played on radio stations across Australia, including Triple J, Triple R, PBS and ABC regional stations. As with previous albums Larry addresses issues of racial harmony, equality and social unity. Larry returns home to Zambia and travels to Zimbabwe and South Africa to revive his musical and cultural heritage.
Some of Australia’s finest musicians are featured on Larry’s 10 album releases. Vika and Linda Bull appeared as backing vocalists and Christopher Bekker on bass on his 1993 release Man and Woman. Diesel also appears on this album. On the album Hallelujah, Nichaud Fitzgibbon contributed backing vocals. Other musicians on the albums include Nicky Bomba on drums, Bruce Haymes on keyboards and Jason Heerah on drums. With many of the players regarded as Australia’s leading session musicians, the individual and collective brilliance of the musicians respectively assures a diverse sound which encompasses complex African rhythms, reggae and luscious jazz horns.
Larry and his 10 piece band were asked to headline Apollo Bay Music Festival, Bellingen Global Carnival and the Globe to Globe World Music Festival 2001. Larry and his band Roots & Herbs performed again at the Globe to Globe World Music Festival October, 2002. 2003 began and Larry & band were special guests of Angelique Kidjo when she played the Prince of Wales, Melbourne in April.
It is with the release of his new album that Larry has again begun performing live in Melbourne and touring nationally.
At the beginning of 2004 Larry was asked by two members of MMM International to assist with the Zambian project : “The African Dream”, a project which assists underprivileged children in Zambia. Larry graciously donated his songs which were compiled on the compilation Larry Maluma – a good cause. It contains a mixture of songs sung in two of Zambia’s 70 languages, Bemba & Nyanja. The songs chosen are from five of Larry’s seven album releases. Half the proceeds from the sale of this CD go to the “African Dream” project
A Slave to the Rhythm
from The Sunday Herald Sun, February 11, 1996
By Kate Welsman
Since coming to Australia in 1985, Larry Maluma has worked consistently to change the perception that all popular music is based around rock and roll. With a string of albums behind him, the Zambian musician is about to launch his latest album, Motion, at Richmond’s Corner Hotel on Friday. From Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, in southern Africa, his music is different from what you would expect from that part of the world.
“Basically I grew up with Zairean rhythms known as rhumba,” he said. “My music is about reclaiming some of the Zambian rhythms, which are disappearing.”
The music he refers to is known as ‘kalindula’, which takes its name from a one-string bass instrument and consists of lyrical guitar rifts over a pounding bass. Maluma describes his music as a mix of reggae, funk and jazz – and as such it has great appeal to his community.
“I regularly go home to promote the albums and the people can’t get enough of the music,” he said.
“I also do a lot of work for the Zambian Union of Musicians … while the government is committed to playing Zambian music, there is not a system of royalty payments. This means that the youth can’t invest in instruments and recording gear. When an artist has to leave the country to be able to record, it becomes an expensive process and we need to be able to invest in Zambians.”
Politics aside, the new album is a joy. Relying heavily on reggae, and singing in four languages, Maluma sings about issues that affect the community and what he describes as “the truths of everyday life”.
“I don’t consciously think about what I write,” he continues. “It just comes to me.”
‘Follow Me To The Hills’ is an invitation to return to the land, while ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’ describes living in a country so far from home.