FROM BEATING NIDO MILK CANS TO A GIFTED MUSICIAN
Malawi’s local industry is starting to blossom. There is a shift in the entertainment industry towards valuing art in its different forms as more and more people are starting to see music as a business. It is no surprise that every day we have new upcoming artists and producers, trying to break through the glass ceilings and bubble gum song content. Who wouldn’t want a piece of potentially lucrative music pie, especially when music is something that runs naturally in your blood?
Meet Cozizwa, a young gifted Malawian musician and producer, who has been crafting a sound that fuses other types of music with manganje, mganda, ingoma, malipenga and so many other elements of Malawian drum patterns. “Cozizwa” meaning Miracle, is a name with origins in the Chichewa words chozizwitsa/chozizwa. He believes that there is no better miracle than our own existence. His focus is on urban music with a touch of local Malawian vibes. That is how Cozizwa has been distinguishing himself from other artists by creating a strong authentic brand as a musician/producer. Miracle makes a living out of music production compared to music performances. Getting well-paying bookings in the local industry is a challenge that prevents most Malawian artists from making a living out of music and breaking through to the international scene.
Through self-education, practice and research, Cozizwa has been adding value to his work as a musician/producer. He reads music books and browses through website for information about music or production topics, he believes that music is a journey of self-discovery.
With his family being his biggest fans, Cozizwa says he owes the growth in his art and current position in music to his family. He recalls his brother giving him his first production computer and studio equipment. His brother still supports him through mentorship in music production. Coming from a background of a passionate guitarist for a father, with numerous guitars ranging from lead to bass, to a vocalist mum, music has been a big part of Cozizwa. He’s gone from being a kid in Chilomoni, using Nido milk cans as drums to make music with his brother, to hearing his production on radio, in shopping malls, banks and public buses. He expresses his appreciation for the work the media does in helping artists connect with people who help their brands grow.
Music serves as therapy, a passion, culture, communication and art to Cozizwa. With most youth suffering from depression, Cozizwa uses music to keep himself busy, writing and producing to keep his mind off any negativity. He expresses his feelings, beliefs and culture; and tries to educate and sensitize people on important issues such as youth empowerment and togetherness in creating better communities.
It is not always wonderful in music wonderland. After investing time and finances to produce singles, mixtapes, albums and visuals, most Malawian artists fail to sell the content effectively both on a local and international level. Piracy also makes it difficult to ensure musicians/artists are paid what they deserve, as many Malawian based listeners would rather download music for free than pay money for it. But all that could be changing as we are seeing a rise in the number of Malawian developed music players and online platforms, such as Oasis and Zonse Live, which are growing towards business models that will help Malawian artistry to flourish even on the international scene.
One of the most common experiences established and upcoming artists face in their music journey is rejection. Some of the most popular or successful musicians we see and admire had to face rejection many times over before finally latching onto opportunities that propelled them to be stars. This has been no different for Cozizwa. He first experienced rejection as Sunbird’s Search for a Star (2014) where he passed through several stages before facing eviction. He remembers feeling as though he was not good enough and even entertained thoughts of music not being his forte after all. But perhaps, that experience helped to solidify his strong sense of identity and direction as a musician and producer.
The pressures of the entertainment industry to conform to keeping up appearances when the pursuit of the music dream takes more from an artist before the rewards start coming in, can leave many young artists suffering from depression. The celebrity status is something that Miracle doesn’t pay much attention to. After seeing so many talented musicians crumble under peer pressure, lacking guidance on how they should maneuver in the world of music business, Cozizwa is determined to hold on to his character by spending time with family and friends who help him stay grounded. He believes every opportunity and one’s success should be used to inspire at least one person to pursue their dreams with purpose and authenticity.
Cozizwa’s 2019 is lined up with solo singles, audios and videos. 10 songs are already set aside for release, listeners should expect Malawian vibes on tracks like Miyala, Blue Tick and Chikangawa. A duo project with his long-time colleague, 2Kay and a long list of feature songs are also to be expected from Cozizwa.