Zambian music is rooted in the beliefs and practices of Zambia's various ethnic groups and has suffered some decline in the last three decades. Original Zambian music once had clear ritual purposes or was an expression of the social fabric of the culture. Songs were used to teach, to heal, to appeal to spirits, and for mere enjoyment. Despite the decline of traditional music, its influences can still be heard in many of today's Zambian musical forms. Through these forms and reforms, many Zambian musicians have in the past stopped doing secular music, hence going gospel. Today, ZambianMusic.net brings you some of the Zambian artists who have crossed from secular to gospel music.
Mag44, real names Magnus Mando, son to legendary ZNBC journalist Charles Mando and brother to ZNBC journalist Kunda Mando, is a gospel rapper but was a secular rapper raised in a Christian home. Though his secular work was mostly underground, the singer switched to gospel when he learnt that his church accommodated hip hop music. The goatie-shaved rapper is the power behind the throne of Radio Café, a recording studio that has been the factory of hit songs by Abel Musuka, Pompi and Mag44 himself. Married to a God-fearing worshipper and blogger in the name of Chipo Chitambi, Mag44 confessed on national TV that although he sang gospel in night clubs before (and didn’t find it wrong), his priorities were different now. This prompted some commentators to argue that his deeper relationship with God is exposing the nullity of his past methods of reaching out.
MC Wabwino, real names Mukosha Chembe is a heavyweight both in stature and in career. His career dates as far back as 1999 and he has more than thirty albums. Yes, thirty albums. We were surprised too when we learnt of those figures in 2009 when we stopped counting. So if you are arguing truth is you will discover more than 30 albums when you verify. Over the years, MC has adapted to the changing theme in Zambian music and his previous work would change from raga to rhumba to Kalindula and now Gospel. MC, regarded one of the wealthiest Zambian musicians, was no stranger to controversy as he cleverly and hilariously twisted street slang to comment on social issues. He has worked with John Chiti, JK, Sebastian Mutale and John Mwesa among others. MC announced his surprising switch in 2015 confessing that there is no other contentment as serving the most high. His gospel album was released in 2015. The Anglican Church member, who is also an accountant and farmer, released his gospel album early 2016, as obedience to the word of God which he says commissions him to go out and preach. Fans reacted differently to MC’s shift. “I saw one negative comment on social media where someone was saying that I have resorted to singing gospel after leading other people astray…I wondered how I led people astray because my secular albums, which had at least one gospel song, where mere social commentaries,” MC Wabwino told ZambianMusic.net
Kanji: Some of you have seen her dressed in a Zambia Army Uniform, yes, this beautiful woman is a trained officer in the country's army. Born in 1983, Mwizukanji Namwawa, started singing professionally in 2001 and is a former Sling Beats signee whose 2004 music set her up as one of Zambia’s talented songstresses. Her songs like ‘Mr Big Star’ and ‘Wenye’ (which features General Ozzy) are still considered great songs by today’s standard. In 2009 she told ZambianMusic.net that only her law career could disturb her music career and true to that Kanji went on a break after being admitted to the bar. However, her love for music would soon resurface in 2014 when she announced her comeback and switch to gospel. Although not as famous as her secular music days, Kanji commands a respectable following.
Bob Mabege was one of the signees under the renowned Mondo Music label but his fame couldn’t go past his debut album. After a seemingly failed career, the artist turned to gospel to salvage his musical fortunes. This failed and soon he went back to secular music. However, the cake wasn’t worth the candle as Bob failed to breakthrough again. the singer is rumoured to have gone gospel but this cannot be verified. Up till now, his position is not certain but he makes it on this list because he once turned gospel. One thing for sure – his inconsistency is blotting his copy-book.
Levy Sakala: Until 2014, this energetic man was one half of the renowned Sakala Brothers although the two are not brothers despite sharing the same surname. Their music careers started in the notorious township of Matero known for the illegal counterfeiting of just about anything from driver’s licenses and doctorate degrees to limousines and whiskeys. There was actually a joke on social media that Matero even produced a counterfeit president in MP Miles Sampa whose election as PF president in 2014 was later nullified.
Bambo Levy (as he is fondly called) went solo and switched to gospel music in 2014 after a cardiac medical problem. During a recent TV interview, Levy attested to having seen his life coming to an end but that only one thing bugged him – what lay in store for him after death. He says his money or fame didn’t matter at that time. After failing to say a prayer, he opted to mutter the lyrics of the only hymn he could remember from Sunday school – ‘Amazing grace’. Levy miraculously recovered and shortly after discharge from hospital, he bade farewell to his more than 20 years in secular music. He has since appeared in the media testifying to the amazing grace that saved him. Levy has gone further to release two gospel albums since 2014. It is often said that life begins at 40 and going by his age at his conversion, we can safely attest to that of the burly singer who previously wouldn’t spare any beverage with a drop of alcoholic content – even if that substance was poison.
John Chiti: ZambianMusic.net remembers John Chiti for his 2008 hit ‘Ngauleya’ which he released under Crystal Studios and Entertainment and featured Bob Mabege. The song hit the scene and soon the singer was a darling to many as public sympathy contributed to his growing fame after revealing troubled childhood due to stigma of his skin colour. John Chiti’s second effort was not as much of a success and may have been the last effort before a few features and an eventual switch to gospel. His dwindling music fortunes seem to have followed him to gospel music as his gospel efforts are yet to make a significant shaking of the industry. Chiti’s ReverbNation bio reads “…its time to be realistic with my life, to slow down and do what the Lord has called me for. As my name says it all, I hereby present you with my debut Gospel album titled ‘Wapusuka’. I believe am now a new born baby in the Lord and will forever continue growing in His love, without condemning those doing secular music or conscious music. My prayer is that we shall all strive to seek the Lord’s will in whichever way we showcase our talents.”
During one newspaper interview, John is reported to have complained of the little fortunes in gospel music. John Chiti is president of Albuno Foundation of Zambia (AFZ) aimed at advocating for the protection of albinos. In late 2015, Chiti shared his wedding photos on social media, much to the commendation of his fans. We feel John Chiti is hugely talented and needs the company of other gospel artistes to help him spread the word through music. The gospel industry should not wait for him to go back to secular music for them to react. To Chiti our message is that continue to be a servant of God and friend to man, a fisher of men and angel of love as your Facebook bio summarises.
Starn Ngandu, formery Starn Di Industry. His music career started during his school days but it was only after meeting Elijah Tembo of Kula Music studio that he recorded some gains. Starn’s ‘Fyonse Filapwa’ received massive response. He admitted wanting to work with Doxa Music (a Christian label) for promotional purposes but he couldn’t put pen to paper due to the load on the label. Starn later signed under Mwam’s Music and his album was eventually marketed by the label in 2008. In 2009, Starn ventured into acting and landed himself roles in local films; Zed Crew and My Country. Daily Mail reports that Zed Crew went on to receive massive acclaim as millions viewed it during the Cannes Film Festival in Paris, France and across Europe. In 2010, Starn created his own record label, Lola Entertainment Records, and released yet another defining album. Just when everyone thought the singer was doing his thing with uplifting gospel tracks, such as “Favour” and “Prodigal Son”, he became the gospel industry’s prodigal son when he switched to secular music and his 2013 and 2014 efforts had attempts at the Zambia Music Awards. Starn worked with Chef 187 among other heavyweights of the game. At some time, Starn was even engaged with Smooth IK-anchored Born n Bred which he co-presented. So we are guessing you are wondering why he made this list, right? Well, word (and Facebook) have it that the R&B singer has returned to gospel – only this time as a minister. In fact entertainment analysts Mooka, Ken and Helen of ZNBC TV recently reported that he is indeed a minister of the gospel. Whether he is on the crest for a wave with his newly found occupation is anything but a guess. In April 2017, Starn walked down the aisle with his long time girl friend. Starn is now the Head Pastor at a Copperbelt based Church known as Higher Life Embassy.
Pompi: Real names, Chaka Nyanthando is the brains behind Lota house and Atmosphere. Previously, he was a secular Hip Hop artiste who bombed the scene with high quality videos and controversial lyrics. He spent his uni days in South Africa and so most of his work was evidently of higher quality given the facilities in that country. When he came back to Zambia, he featured a number of musicians on his songs including Slap Dee on ‘Blahazay.’ The ‘F’ word wasn’t a rarity in Pompi’s music and so most people were hesitant to listen to his music when he announced he had switched to gospel. However, Pompi’s first gospel album Mizu was a huge success owing to its rich content and contemporary feel and was released on 8 December, 2012. His second album was even bigger and this seemed to have stamped the singer’s position on the scene. Pompi, above many Zambian musicians has had the opportunity to be recognised internationally, with videos that have played on commercial channels such as MTV Base and Channel O (where he finished off 2009 as number one on young gifted and African). Publicly perceived to be have a hardcore personality, Pompi admits he is actually a shy, studious and maybe boring person off the mic. We think it’s a matter of distinguishing persona and personality. We actually feel Pompi’s love of the word of God is not boring but should inspire other artistes to release songs that are inspired of the word of God. Go on Pompi – Open the tap!
Franciar: Francisca Magaret Msisha rose to fame in late 2010 with her hit record ‘Umutokofyompo’. She has worked with the likes of J.O.B, Zone Fam, Bobby East, Starn, Slap Dee, Macky II and Verbal Assasin. She is one of the top artists to come out of Zambia that is able to Rap, Sing and Act. She has since appeared on TV adverts and a local film production ‘Guilty’. Although she was born in 1992 on the Copperbelt, Franciar started singing at an early stage of her life at her local church in Lusaka and if her education is anything to go by, she is a Matero product. Franciar did her primary education at Harry Mwaanga School and completed her secondary education at Matero Girls high School in 2008. She is a NIPA graduate of Business Administration. In 2013 she released ‘Walasa’ under Money Records owned by Music millionaire Kayombo. Franciar was nominated for the Born & Bred Awards 2013 in 3 categories; Best Female, and 2 nominations in Best Collaboration. Unfortunately, Franciar did not take the accolades home clearly because of the competition. However, the nominations alone were a symbol of Franciar how highly the music industry regarded her music. She made skimpy dresses her trademark signature and it was a surprise to many when she announced her switch to gospel. Soon her dressing toned down. Franciar had an encounter with God that made her surrender all her life, and early 2015 saw her make the major decision of switching from singing secular to gospel. The gospel industry seemed to have received Franciar well as mid 2015 saw her feature on ‘Heal Our Land’ alongside other renowned gospel artists like Chileshe Bwalya, Nelly Zulu, John Chiti, Mark B3 and the Peace Preachers. Apart from switching to gospel, 2015 seemed her year as she also got engaged and flaunted her ring all over social media. Franciar’s story is testimony that when you bring u a child in the way they should grow, they will never depart from it. We at ZambianMusic.net surely beleive that if Franciar changed from the other world, then its true, people can change if given a second chance.
Thugga, real names Tim Chisenga was a member of the internationally acclaimed hip hop group Zone Fam. After making secular hits with the group, Thugga announced via social media on 1st April 2015 that he was turning his talent into a gospel mission amid speculation that he was just pulling off a prank on Fool’s day. We have yet to hear his music. Ever since Thugga crossed to gospel music, he has not made any sensible song, said Harriet Mumba, a former fan to ZoneFam. Let's hope, Thugga is not just another paper tiger.
Other Zambian Musicians that have stopped doing secular music and started gospel careers include, Eddie Black, Winston Moyo, Manase aka MKV, Alubusu, Emmie Routes, Damiano aka Mwana Mfumu, Exile & Nalu
Download All Zambian Gospel Music
To Advertise On ZambianMusic.net
Call / WhatsApp: +260979974400