At close quarters with international song bird Muriel Mwamba, reveals massive talent in the Zambian born diva.
Muriel is just on the heels of music legends who have kept in seclusion after the Zambian music industry fell apart, but the difference is that, she has continued working hard to mould herself into one of the most celebrated female music talent in that part of the world.
She is also among a horde of female musicians in New York who have come to global attention and wrapped up the year 2013 as the World Artist of the Year at the Dazzling Divas Music Award, organised by producer Carmelita Frazier.
In addition, Muriel scooped the best Jazz vocalist award after being impressive in a number of Jazz songs.
Other awards at stake at the Dazzling Divas show were, “Best New Artist”, “Country Singer of the Year”, “Best Gospel Singer”, “Best R & B Artist” and “Best Jazz Artist.
The Dazzling Divas brings together great female vocalists from the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region to sing diverse music genre.
Having belted out jazz with the Broadway Quintet at Pamodzi Hotel and also the Cool Knights back home in Zambia, it was something that was preparing her for the future.
“I sang a jazz song and they could not believe an African singer could do that. But then I was singing jazz songs with the Broadway Quintet at Pamodzi hotel. It was a good preparition for the future,” Muriel says.
Her continued exposure in Zambia was with the Big Gold Six, Directions, BQ and Rising Stars all of whom backed her consistently.
“New York is the best place to improve. The vocalists here are formidable. A memory I treasure, is getting a standing ovation at the Dazzling Divas awards night,” explained Muriel in a recent interview from New York.
What more?, She was the first Zambian female artiste to win the country’s top music industry award five times in three consecutive years that is, 1981-83.
Muriel once recorded a popular song Kalulu (Tukafunde Mpapa Twakalango Mwakuya) and Sweet Memories in the 80s, and is currently working on a CD, Lesa Alomfwa (GOD Hears)’, which is a master piece considering the commitment and time spent on perfecting it.
Lesa Alomfwa was co-produced by Muriel and Angela Hayes and since then, she has been re-recording her previously released songs.
“My future plans are to start touring as soon as the CD is released. I am coming to Zed (Zambia) soon,” she says.
Muriel Mwansa Sybil Mwamba was born in Zambia but bred in the US where she hit a mark in New York newspapers after her music exploits came to the fore.
Her additional names Mwansa Kaluba Kalyufyota Bantu were given by her paternal grand parent James Mwansa Mwamba, a grandson of senior Chief Mwamba of the Bemba speaking people of Northern Zambia.
Her mother, Mildred Dorcas Zimba, was the grand niece of Chief Puta of the Bwile people in Luapula Province.
Inspired by the American Global Music Public Relations (PR) firm, Rock Paper Scissors, Muriel also put up a band that received positive notices from top New York Newspapers.
Muriel started her education at the International School of Lusaka where she had some fun in singing with childhood friend and schoolmate, Anna Mwale of the Buku Langa fame and her sister Clair. She later went to the Dominican Convent of Lusaka.
To become a musician, Muriel’s decision had to be met with some resistance from the parents but later her mother, supported her all the way.
Muriel blames the collapse of the local music industry on hard economic times which relegated the sector to that of non existence.
But this did not steal the zeal from the young Muriel who immediately made a move to UK first, before drifting to the US.
Though her music progress was somewhat hampered by immigration issues for quite some time, she was determined to make a grade when things were sorted out and her dream has since come true.
Her hit song Mayo Mpapa, which she did afterwards from the children’s award winning African Lullaby CD, is a major favourite.
She highly speaks of her father, Simon James Musonda Mwamba, who as a diplomat in the US, was made an honorary citizen of Nebraska and was given the key to the City of Buffalo a gesture he cherishes much.
An educator and former director of the Mechanical Services Branch (MSB) during the 1970s, he also assisted in the military intelligence for Angolan and Zimbabwean freedom fighters, before becoming a diplomat in the US.
As custodian of a God fearing family, Muriel’s father also served as warden and advisor to the American Dean, Louis Pitt Jr at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, while her mother made candles for the Church Altar and was president of the Mother’s Union there.
Muriel adds, “Zambian music is unique and has yet to come out big on the international arena. It has much potential. All musicians including myself have to tap into its heritage and essence for originality, an exciting challenge.”
Source: Times of Zambia