- Peter Mawanga.
‘Peter Mawanga is one of Malawi’s most unique and talented artists.’
- Rhythm of Life founder, Tristram Johnson.
At the height of the Chimurenga, the struggle for independence in Zimbabwe, a Malawian missionary family arriving at Harare airport was stranded inside the terminal while chaos took over the city streets. Oblivious to the muted panic in the airport lounge, two year old Peter Mawanga broke the tension as he sang Amazing Grace, perfectly in tune, to an amazed audience. His uncle pronounced there and then that the boy was destined to be a great musician.
After Peter’s astounding first concert, his love affair with music saw him do anything he could to learn and experience music; through school clubs, the church choir and friends he learned to play keyboards and guitar. In Malawi in 2002 while studying mechanical engineering he recorded a playful album that set him on the path to his musical destiny.
Recorded under the name Peter Pine ‘Citylife’, was a sensation across Malawi. The R n’B album’s controversial hit single ‘Amakhala ku Blantyre’ discussed the realities of urban vs rural living. The song was so controversial it inspired several ‘response’ songs which opposed Peter’s shattering of the ‘city streets are paved with gold’ myth.
Buoyed by the overnight success of his first album, Peter abandoned his studies for a professional music career. Shedding the persona of Peter Pine he reverted to his own name Peter Mawanga and began creating definitive music; globally recognized yet intrinsically Malawian. In 2005 he recorded Zanga Zo Zama, produced by Q Malewezi on the Chawasmugglaz label. The critically acclaimed album presented Mawanga’s truer sound; Afrovibes - a fusion of traditional African rhythms, composition, vocal arrangements with modern instrumentation; inspirational, introspective, spiritual and socially conscious.
Zanga Zo Zama’s songs such as ‘Tsoka’, ‘Londa’, ‘Mwana Wamasiye’ and ‘Bwerera’ are poignant songs with strong messages marking Peter’s journey from pop star to celebrated musician and voice of the underprivileged.
Concerned by the plight of children in Malawi, Peter established Talents of the Malawian Child in 2004. With the support of Salima Aids Support Organization (SASO), Unicef and Plan Malawi, Peter trained and mentored orphaned and venerable children during music workshop. As a result of these projects Peter produced albums for these children; ‘Ana a SASO’ (2005) and ‘Vingoma nsa Visekese’(2006 ) and ‘Sounds of Lilongwe’ (2008). His song Timveni was the official song for Plan Malawi’s Timveni children’s radio project.
Inspired to continue creating great music with young people Peter formed his own band. In 2007 Peter’s third incarnation was born; Peter Mawanga and The Amaravi Movement.
Incorporating Malawian instrumentation, jazz guitar, marimba rhythms and singing in Chichewa, Peter is able to speak both musically and lyrically directly to Malawi. He composes when he is at peace and in synch with the world and therefore the result is unrestrained and intimate.
Performing at live music venues such as Cargo, London, festivals such as Lake of Stars and with international artists such as Oliver Mtukudzi and Wambali Mkandawire, Peter Mawanga is has garnered respect in the music industry at large. The synergy of Peter Mawanga and The Amaravi Movement impressed Rhythm of Life to sign Peter as the first artist on their new record label in Malawi in 2008.