Famed for their tight vocal harmonies and energetic dance moves, the Sakala Brothers have carried the torch of Zambian music for the past twenty five years. They now carry the country’s banner in the recent surge of worldwide interest in Zambian music and the Zambia music renaissance.
The duo have over the years been creating mystic sounds that leave an indelible mark in the hearts of many. Their music is woven around story-telling and social commentary on issues such as poverty, exclusion, corruption and greed. Their songs also celebrate life and its challenges. Levey Sakala was born in one of Lusaka’s largest township called Matero at a place called Chingwele in the 70′s.
In an exclusive interview with Zambia’s Official Entertainment Website (www.ZambianMusic.net), Levey disclosed candidly how they started their successful careers.
“My father was associate pastor at apostolic faith mission church. I came from a musical family, particularly my father loved to sing he would even sing in the bathroom, he encouraged us to sing and had an impact in my musical career.
“I grew up near the independence stadium, and during weekends at football matches, a brass band would play and we would go and watch them. When I was 13 years old I joined the church choir and in the same year joined the school choirs at Mtendere primary school where I was doing my primary education. At church we used to have competitions at national level, and in 1984 we traveled to Tanzania for a singing competition, in the same year I performed as the only male in an all-girls choir. I used to dance in my spare time but never bothered to join a dance troupe.
“In 1987 I went to Matero Boys Secondary School and this were I met Moses. It is here were he told me about his interest in music, and this prompted me to ask him to join the school choir which he did. When I went to grade ten, I and Moses had started thinking of recording, but money was a problem. My brother John who really believed in me and had interest in music himself, offered to sponsor us for the recording. It was john my elder brother who taught me how to play a three stringed guitar.
“The body was made out of a big cooking oil tin, Neck made out of wood and the fret made out of fence wire. My young brother was also very good with the guitar, and I learnt good tunes from him too. In pursuit to recording our first song there was need for us to rehearse with a band so that is how we started rehearsing with the Burning Youths at New Londe Motel where they played as a resident band. On the day of our first gig, we were so scared because PK Chishala was also playing at New Londe Motel and this was the time when his song “Chimbayambaya” was a big hit.
“Nonetheless, we put up an electrifying performance and since John was attending the gig, he was left with little doubt that his money would go to waste but went forward and sponsored us to record our first song “Kumawa”. “Ironically all this was happening without my father’s concern, my father liked the song but little did he know that “Kumawa”was sung by me and MosesAfter “Kumawa” was released and attained a fair air play status, I began to revise my thoughts about my career in the military, football or church ministry”.
Moses Sakala was born in Lusaka at the university teaching hospital in the 70′s.
“I have a twin sister named Dorothy. I grew up in one of Lusaka’s biggest townships called Matero at a place called Mulongoti. I picked up my music talent when I was only 5 years old, this was influenced by a man named Zulu who was a traditional healer who used drums and dance for healing, me and my friends would imitate his music and drums with our own home made drums and instruments.
During weekends, we would go to a local tavern which used to be run by the municipal council, Nyau dancers used to congregate to perform Chewa and Luvale dances, my friends and I would watch these dancers and then go home and make our own version of the Nyau costumes made of polythene sacks and imitate there dancers. When I was about 7 to 8 years old, I started making sophisticated drums and costumes. I would go to a nearby BATA shoe company factory cow skin off cuts for our drums. Our interest in dance grew so very much that we decide to form a dance troupe (group), because of us other dance troupes mushroomed in the township and we would compete amongst ourselves.
I later started primary school at Kizito primary school where I was a very bright boy in all my subjects especially art though I never pursued it. I was very shy when I was a little so I never showed my dancing talent at school. During this time, a friend of mine called Chisomo Miti asked me to join “Simba Squad” a dance troupe that was sponsored by the Kizito catholic church, it was in this group that I perfected my dance skills and drum patterns from all parts of Zambia then I also decided to join the school dance troupe.
“I later joined the Amayenge which had the likes of Alice Chali who is currently the leader of the band. This was a very professional dance group with about 25 members. I became the leader of the group and won a couple of awards for the group including best drummer. I managed to qualify to go to grade eight at Matero boys’ secondary school. It was here that I met Levey who was in the school choir. I took Levey to the township hall were we used to practice our dance routines and because sometimes I could sing, Levey encouraged me to join the school choir. We later formed a quartet with a friend of ours Chris. It was during this period that we thought of recording or music but it was very ruff because we didn’t have a sponsor.
“In 1989, when we were only in grade 10, Levey’s brother who believed in us gave us financial assistance to record. So we started practicing with the burning youth’s band at New Londe Motel in Matero Township. Finally we managed to record our first song “Kumawa”at DB studios in 1989. Since then we have never looked back”.
Moses and Levey Sakala met in a high school traditional dance troupe and choir in Lusaka, some twenty five years ago. They performed as a duo during school assemblies. Soon their brand of music called Makewane (a term which refers to a rain-making shrine where songs were performed in time of need in Zambian olden days). Makewane Music, the Zambian Sounds and Soul that marries the Rural and Urban Zambia.
This captivated audiences’ country wide and by the time they completed high school there was no doubt about pursuing music as their career. The Sakala Brothers have participated in many major regional and international music festivals. These include the Southern African Development Communities (SADC) Music Festival in Zimbabwe, the International Performing Arts Festival at Chang-Mu in South Korea, the World Tourism Fair in the Netherlands. They have also toured the Southern African region, UK and Poland. Their 2002 tour of Poland for three months raised awareness on HIV/AIDS. The tour was climaxed by the recording of the “Madzi Amoyo” (Water for Life) album with Polish Producers. Within the SADC Sub-Region, their music enjoys listenership on radio stations in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Congo and South Africa.
Currently, the group is involved with the Oxfam Make Fair Trade – Big Noise Campaign. They spearheaded the campaign at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India in January 2004. Together with Coldplay, REM, Ladysmith, Black Mambazo, Damon Albarn of Blur and Afel Bocuom of Mali, the Sakala Brothers composed songs for the “Big Noise” album.
ZambianMusic.net confirms that the Sakala Brothers also featured on the “Life is a Beautiful Thing” movie soundtrack alongside Oliver Mutukudzi, Ranto, Manu Dibango and Lucky Dube. The album won the Best Soundtrack award at the Ninth Annual South African Music Awards.
The group has also performed in Toronto, at Afro-Fest, an annual festival that features music talents from around the world. In addition, the group performed at other venues in Toronto, including a performance for OXFAM Make Trade Fair Campaign. Besides their involvement with and appearances on many musical programs, the Sakala Brothers have won several national awards. Accolades include the 1997 Ngoma Award (Juno equivalent) for Best Song.
Their 1998 album ”Londole” was on the No 1 slot of the country’s top 20 Musical charts for eight weeks, a feat rarely achieved in the country’s music industry.
The same album went on to win the 1999 Ngoma award for Best Album. In 2001 the Sakala Brothers produced another chart-topping album entitled “Sandra” which again won the Ngoma award for Best Album for that year. Within the SADC Sub-Region, their music enjoys listener ship on radio stations in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Congo and South Africa. Currently, the group is involved with the Oxfam Make Fair Trade – Big Noise Campaign. They spearheaded the campaign at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India in January 2004. Together with Coldplay, REM, Ladysmith, Black Mambazo, Damon Albarn of Blur and Afel Bocuom of Mali, the Sakala Brothers composed songs for the “Big Noise” album.
They also featured on the “Life is a Beautiful Thing “movie soundtrack alongside Oliver Mutukudzi, Ranto, Manu Dibango and Lucky Dube. The album won the Best Soundtrack award at the Ninth Annual South African Music Awards.
Zambia’s Official Entertainment Website (www.ZambianMusic.net), confirms that, the Sakala Brothers later separated in 2014 after working together for close to 25 years. They each started solo careers which did have upto now not yielded any success for each.
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