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Annemarie Quinn – On Moving to Malawi, & Her New Album, Blue Sky Thinking

Moving to Malawi has taught me so much, both in my personal and professional life. I’ve listened to chord progressions, harmonies and rhythms that I’ve never heard before…

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From taking up music at the age of 7, to performing her first gig at the age of 14, Annemarie Quinn, a musician from the U.K, graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a First Class Degree in Music. She has performed at a number of venues and festivals around the U.K, and regularly featured on BBC Introducing.

In 2016 she and her husband decided they wanted a change, so they packed up their life and moved to Malawi, Africa! From the moment she arrived with her guitar, she dived straight into the country’s music industry, and has spent the last 4 years composing, collaborating and recording with the most amazing Malawian musicians to create her upcoming album, Blue Sky Thinking!

Blue Sky Thinking Album Art

Since moving to Malawi, she has also performed at Lake Of Stars (for three consecutive years), Tumaini Festival, Sand Music Festival, Nkhotakota Music Festival, Blantyre Arts Festival, and venues across the country including Jacaranda Cultural Centre, Grittah’s Camp, Kwa Haraba and Mayoka Village, to name a few. “It’s been the most incredible experience having immersed myself in this country’s beautiful culture, and I have been so welcomed into the Malawian arts community”, she says.

We caught up with her to learn more about her work in Malawi and her soon to be released album.

“I found music to be such a release, and a way to express myself. I’ve always been fascinated by how something so emotive and beautiful can’t be seen, but only heard…”

Live Music Video Shoot – Omex Chimpeni on Hand Drum, Anthony Spriyano on Percussion and Backing Vocals, and Stan Phiri on Bass.

When did you realise that music was what you wanted to do with your life?

I’ve always loved music. I grew up in a home that was filled with music, all day everyday! My parents would always have the radio or CDs playing, I grew up surrounded by the likes of Paul Simon, U2, Bob Marley, The Drifters, Bruce Springsteen – our house was never quiet. I took up the violin at the age of 7 and began singing in my school choir. Even at such a young age, I found music to be such a release and a way to express myself. I’ve always been fascinated by how something so emotive and beautiful can’t be seen, but only heard – this made me want to explore further. I studied music through school, took as many instrument lessons as I could get, and I just knew that this was what I wanted to do. I then went on to study music in university and learnt so much – and that’s the thing – we never stop learning. I think sometimes people think that if they’ve learnt an instrument, then ‘that’s it! I don’t have to practice anymore!’ But the truth is, we should never stop pushing ourselves to learn. Moving to Malawi has taught me so much, both in my personal and professional life. I’ve listened to chord progressions, harmonies and rhythms that I’ve never heard before, and welcomed it into my compositions – it’s been wonderful!

What or whom would you say has been the most important influence when it comes to your music?

The most important thing is to be open minded – I remember my guitar teacher telling me to listen to all different kinds of music; whether you like it or not, it’s important to form critical opinions rather than just ‘this sounds good, this sounds bad’. There’s something to be learnt from all different genres of music, so listen to as much as you can!

As I mentioned, my parents played the most awesome music to me which definitely had a subconscious effect on me. My all-time favourite musician has to be Paul Simon. My Dad is a huge fan, so we’d always listen together. Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ was my soundtrack growing up; at the time I loved it, but had no idea just how much of an inspiration it would be to me. ‘Graceland’ is still to this day, my most favourite album. That’s what’s amazing about music; each part of your life can be mapped by the songs you were immersed in at the time, and as soon as you listen to them, you’re transported back to that moment.

As someone who studied Classical Music, would you advise upcoming artists who have the opportunity to do so, to take the time to study music formally as well? Advantages and/or disadvantages?

For me, music is a balance between natural talent and studies. Formally studying music is brilliant, especially music theory, as you’re able to understand not only what you’re playing, but why the notes fit together, allowing your compositions to progress. But studying can only take you so far; passion and talent is also needed! I’ve seen the most incredible musicians here in Malawi who can’t read a single note of music, yet they’ve managed to build themselves a guitar from an oil can and bicycle brakes and have taught themselves chords. How amazing! But often without music theory, it can be difficult to progress further. So for me I think it’s important to have a balance of both elements, which then allows the other to excel. Nature vs. Nurture – that’s a difficult one. Don’t get me wrong, I think you can have a natural talent, but unless you nurture and develop it, there’s only so far you’ll go. I’ve always loved music and sure, it came naturally to me, but I’ve worked SO hard over the past 15 years to get to where I am now. Extra classes, self-studies, revision, exams, there’s so much that’s needed to help yourself grow and succeed, other than just ‘talent’.  

What inspired you to take the leap of faith in 2016 and move to Malawi to work on your album, here, out of any other place you could have gone to in the world?

We just wanted a change! We were living in a part of UK that had recently flooded with bad rains so we just thought, why not, if we don’t try, we’ll never know. I visited The Gambia when I was 17 years old on a school trip and was totally blown away. I fell in love with feeling out of my comfort zone and experiencing new cultures. I always knew I’d love to go back to Africa at some point! My husband, Andy, who teaches at an International School here in Malawi, had never been to Africa before, so we just went for it and have zero regrets! But I really do believe everything happens for a reason, and you make your own luck. We’ve had a brilliant time here in Malawi, but we’ve put a lot of hard work in too, and made sure we’ve made the most of every opportunity – life is what you make it.

What has your move to Malawi proved wrong in terms of any misconceptions you may have had prior to you actually living here?

I remember as the date for leaving the UK came closer, I felt nervous. I was leaving everything I’d known – family, friends, all the links and work I’d built up. Would anyone be interested in playing with me?! I was this random British girl rocking up with my guitar – I had these big ideas about recording an album, but didn’t actually know any musicians, and hadn’t written any of the songs yet! I did as much research as I could before leaving the UK about music in Malawi, but couldn’t find much online. Fortunately, I was booked to perform at Lake Of Stars before I moved so I was looking forward to that. But as soon as I arrived in Malawi and started to get to know artists, I realised there was SO much music happening here! There wasn’t much online but I’d managed to find out what was going on! It was brilliant, before I knew it I had met so many musicians and was booked to perform at all different festivals and events around the country. You’ve just got to work hard and get sucked in!

Recording on my Lowden Guitar at The Music Farm, UK.

You have raised a lot of money for charity, and you also give of your time by teaching music at Jacaranda school for orphans in Blantyre. How has that experience impacted you, not only as an artist but as a person?

Whilst living here in Malawi, I feel it is important to help in a sustainable way, rather than handouts or quick fixes. I was first introduced to Jacaranda School For Orphans in 2017 after visiting and performing at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC is linked with the school and helps to raise funds for them). I visited the school and was totally blown away by the work they do. Straight away I knew I just had to get involved and help with the music programme, it’s the least I can do whilst I’m living here. Over the past 2 years I have been working with the Jacaranda students, teaching music theory, guitar and violin, song writing and vocal training. The students have the most amazing voices, and it’s been such a privilege to have them sing on my album. Back to the nature vs. nurture comment – these children have the most incredible natural talent, I don’t ever want to alter that, all I have done is given them the tools and knowledge to further themselves and pass these skills on to other students, creating a sustainable model.

Recording with The Jacaranda School For Orphans

I am also co-founder of the NGO, Music Against Malaria, working with Musician Code Sangala, to raise funds and awareness in the fight against Malaria, whilst promoting and preserving the cultural heritage of Malawi. It’s an absolute honour to contribute what I can to this work.  

Your words “Do less, but well,” stuck with me. You spoke about focusing more on sustainable ways of helping those in need. What would that look like to you and what would you say to other people who have the desire to help but are not too sure on how to go about it?

(This is more linked to the album) I believe this to be such a powerful phrase to live by. It’s not saying to make your dreams or goals smaller, but rather to break down what you’d like to achieve, start small and take manageable steps to what you imagine in a conscious and kind way to yourself. If I arrived in Malawi and tried to record this album in the first couple of months, it never would have worked, and I would have felt like I’d failed before I even started. No, the best things in life take time, put the work in, and do the best you can everyday, that’s all you can do, and what will be will be. But that’s not me saying sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you – definitely not! It’s great to let things naturally develop, but there’s also nothing wrong in giving it a good push in the right direction too!

(This is more linked to the charity work) I  believe there are so many people who want to help and I’m in a great position to facilitate this sustainably whilst living here. I really wanted to create a clear and transparent grass roots NGO that shows people exactly where their donations are going. And I think that’s what people like, the transparency. As humans, we like to see results, and our efforts being appreciated. So rather than donating money into a big pot, I’ve been able to follow the donations through and show donors exactly where their contributions are going to, whether that’s to Music Against Malaria, or The Jacaranda School For Orphans. For example, some friends from the UK sent clothes and stationary for Jacaranda, and when the items arrived here I took them straight to the school and donated them personally, sending photos to the donors as evidence. This creates a personal connection and it’s a great feeling for donors to see what they’ve given making a direct change. So many people want to help, and I’m in such a great position to facilitate these donations!

How has working with artists that may not have the best in terms of resources or equipment affected the way you view the process of making music or creating art?

The recording process has been super interesting – each recording session has a story of some kind, ones of laughter, friendships and struggle, transport breaking down, power cuts, musicians unable to make the session due to malaria, and some turning up with malaria and recording anyway – you name it, it happened! But where there are problems, there are always solutions to be found, and Malawians are amazing at that!

Visiting Lazarus’ home after our hotel room recording session

The Blue Sky Thinking album has been recorded in a number of different locations, mostly in the studio I built in my home here in Blantyre, which we’ve named Pamodzi Studio (a collective word in Chichewa meaning community). For my studio, I wanted to support local Malawian traders in its construction, so I used local carpenters to build two huge baffles, creating a vocal booth, and covered the walls in foam and chitenje. We also recorded Ituma Music Productions for drum kit, The Music Farm Studios in UK for some of the acoustic guitar and on location around the Malawi! For example, I packed up the studio and travelled to Nkhata Bay to record Lusubilo Band, right on the beautiful shores of Lake Malawi, and it was amazing! We recorded The Jacaranda School For Orphans in their school hall, and met with Lazarus in Lilongwe, where we made a vocal booth out of a mattress in a hotel to record his vocals!  I began collaborating with Faith Mussa just as Covid 19 hit Malawi, so we weren’t able to meet physically; so instead I sent him the tracks, and he recorded his parts in his studio in Lilongwe and sent them to me. There’s always a way!

Recording with Lusubilo Band on the shore of Lake Malawi

You have a few notable Malawian artists such as Faith Mussa on the list of people you have collaborated with. How much of an influence do you think this has had on the overall sound of Blue Sky thinking?

I really wanted to take my time with this album and get to know musicians, rather than just a feature. I feel like I’ve made some great friends throughout the recording, and I’m so grateful to each and every artist. Blue Sky Thinking features over 40 musicians including Faith Mussa, Code Sangala, Lusubilo Band, Agorosso, Goma Nyondo, Kennedy Phiri, Jacaranda School For Orphans, Patrick Chimbewa, amongst others.  Rather than just diving straight into the music, I took the time to get to know musicians – we met for jam sessions, hung out and played gigs together. I fee that that’s when the true collaboration comes; when everyone feels comforatble with each other. I’ve felt so welcomed into Malawi’s music scene, it’s been an honour to have worked and performed with such amazing musicians. People have reached out from all over the country to let me know how much they enjoy my music, and it means so much to me to hear that. I’ve tried my best to make my music accessible to both Malawian and international audiences, I’ve even added some Chichewa in my album too, with one of my tracks titled ‘Osadandaula’!

In rehearsals with Faith Mussa

I’ve always been aware of cultural appropriation – I didn’t set out to write an album that sounds ‘African’ – I’m a British, so why would I do that?! Haha! But rather to explore and create a balance between my singer songwriter sound with a flare of the Malawian vibe. When I started explaining this idea to people, I was met with nothing but love, encouragement and enthusiasm by the Malawians. The artists I’ve collaborated with are all so different, but equally inspiring. They’ve brought ideas and created parts I never could have imagined. I sometimes feel collaboration is seen as a sign of weakness, that you can’t do it on your own. But I believe this couldn’t be more wrong, we are stronger and more efficient together. It’s been amazing to watch these musicians bring their own flare, styles and ideas to each piece of the album, I’m so grateful to every single artist that has been a part of Blue Sky Thinking, it’s been a celebration of merging cultures; we had the most amazing time creating it, and I hope you can hear that in the music!

Blue Sky Thinking is essentially the bringing together of two different worlds to create a space in which they coexist. Is this album anything close to what you first imagined it would be?

Good question! It’s funny, at the beginning I don’t think I really knew what I wanted the record to be like! I had ideas, but never thought the outcome would be what we have created. It fills me with so much pride and gratitude to listen to the songs, it’s everything I could have imagined and more! I think the title ‘Blue Sky Thinking’ sums this up well; the title has two meanings; firstly, to create and think without limitations, and if we want to live limitlessly, we must be daring. I feel this represents the creation of the album itself – when I arrived in Malawi I knew I wanted to create an album but didn’t know a single person. So putting yourself out there and working hard pays off, and it’s been the most amazing journey!

And secondly the phrase ‘Blue Sky Thinking’ means, to always look for the positives, a dedication to the incredible determination, optimism and innovation of Malawians I’ve had the honour of experiencing whilst living here.

Lake Of Stars with The Jacaranda School For Orphans and Lazarus

When we spoke, the album had just been sent to the UK for Mastering, (the post-production process of optimizing music and preparing it for distribution). After 4 years and over 40 Malawian artists on it, are you ready to finally listen back to the labour of love that is Blue Sky thinking?

Oh, so ready!! There are so many emotions – excitement, gratitude, relief, nerves, I just can’t wait to hear what people think about it, I really hope you like it! I just want people to love it just as much as we do and to enjoy it – we certainly enjoyed creating it and surely that’s the whole point; why do something if you don’t enjoy it?

‘Music’ is so vast and there are so many incredible albums out there, I’m honoured to be adding my work into the mix. It’s scary, but I’ve always approached the music industry as a place to carving out your own space rather than feeling it’s a competition- there’s room for everyone to succeed.  

I really hope when you listen to Blue Sky Thinking, that first and foremost you enjoy the music itself! But I also invite you to take a moment to find out a bit more about who and exactly what you’re listening, the stories behind the songs, the recording process and the Malawian artists featured- each are so different yet equally inspiring with incredible stories, which I feel will enhance the connection to the record.

Blue Sky Thinking has been shaped by the bustle of a thriving Malawian market, the beats of a bao game, the sunsets over the national parks, choirs singing on the back of pick-up trucks and the constant push and pull between loving this amazing country and respecting its culture whilst staying true to my own. I can’t believe it’s finally done, I’ve loved every single moment!

Rehearsals with Goma Nyondo, Kennedy Phiri and Vincent Manyozo

They say music is a reflection of self; do you think the album represents who you are at this moment in time and, is the rest of the world ready for it as well?

I couldn’t agree with this more! Music is definitely a reflection of yourself and that’s exactly what Blue Sky Thinking is. It represents the most amazing chapter of my life living in Malawi. Blue Sky Thinking is four years of experience, emotion and the total immersion into a country’s culture, connecting and merging humans from all walks of life. I hope people will get lost in the in the stories of this album and hope the music takes you somewhere you’ve never been before. I hope this album brings you as much joy listening to it as we had creating it!

Blue Sky Thinking – available to download on all major platforms on 22nd January 2020 (Pre-order Saturday 12th December)

Connect with Annemarie via her website, www.annemariequinn.co.uk and via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – @AnnemarieQuinn

Interviewed by Bongani Mahlangu, Twitter: @Originalboi_b

new single osadandaula now out




Entertainment

What’s Trending In The Entertainment Industry – April Edition

Africa just can’t help itself this year as our artists continue to give the international scene a run for its money.

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Focalistic Spotify Ad on Times Square Billboard

Hazel Lifa


TV & MOVIES

Air Conditioner
The film is Angolan director/co-writer Fradique’s first fictional feature. It follows Matacedo and Zezinha, a security guard and housemaid, as they try to retrieve their employer’s air conditioner. The film was featured in the 31st Annual Cascade Festival of African Films that virtually ran from February 5th to March 10th of 2021.

air conditioner movie trailer

HERO: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Mr. Ulric Cross
The film documents not only the impressive life but the times in which Ulric Cross lived (1917- 2013). The historic drama highlights the forgotten role the World War II hero and lawyer played in the fight for Independence that occurred in Africa in the late 1950s to early 1960. The film was also featured in the 31st Annual Cascade Festival of African Films.

HERO: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Mr. Ulric Cross movie trailer

MUSIC

Africa Shines at 2021 Grammys

Image: WizKid and Burna Boy

2021 Grammys were definitely a huge nod to African talent. Despite the pandemic complicating things, the 63rd Grammy ceremony was definitely one for the books. We had, I believe, the first-ever African, Trevor Noah, host the ceremony.

Then, history was made as Burna Boy proved that the second time is a charm, as he won Best Global Music Album for ‘Twice as Tall’. WizKid kept the party going with his win for Best Music Video for his track, Brown Skin Girl alongside Beyoncé.

Moroccan Rapper El Grande Toto

Image: El Grande Toto

In a country that flat out disapproves of rapping, sparking controversy not only on a social scale but in academic spaces as well, Moroccan rapper El Grande Toto has managed to gain considerable traction and support for his work. El Grande Toto is probably the most streamed rapper on the Moroccan rap scene, with about 20 million people listening to his music across the globe on the streaming service Spotify.

Formally known as Taha Fahssi, El Grande Toto has managed to grab fans’ hearts on such a scale mainly due to social media, as the rap scene in Morocco is still on the rise. “Moroccan rappers are working hard, Moroccan producers are working hard, Moroccan engineers are working hard, everyone here is working, we work like crazy. We don’t have the adequate industry; things are starting to grow now,” El Grande Toto states.

While he raps in his native tongue and no one at Asante could understand his lyrics, the rhythm and flow are impressive. One of his most popular songs Pablo and HORS SÉRIE are a good place to start for new fans.

Africa in Times Square Billboard

Image: Sho Madjozi Youtube Ad on Times Square Billboard

Africa just can’t help itself this year as our artists continue to give the international scene a run for its money. Having a billboard in Times Square is a big deal hands down for anyone; on average, Times Square gets about 300 000 visitors a day, talk about ‘all eyes on you’!

African acts like Sho Madjozi, Lady Du and Focalistic have appeared on billboards in Times Square this year, shining bright and representing. Lady Du and Focalistic’s billboards were for a Spotify ad showcasing hottest African talent. Sho Madjozi and her dance crew are on a YouTube Music’s Black Voices billboard.

BOOKS

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Emezi gives us a unique book that offers us the experience of the protagonist, as we see him through the people around him as they deal with his death and look back at his life. Once in a while, the author gives us a glimpse of Vivek from the grave as he deals with how people misunderstood him. Through Vivek’s story, the novel deals with topics like culture, identity and family to name a few.

Imperfect Arrangements by Frances Mensah-Williams

Imperfect Arrangements by Frances Mensah-Williams

The novel looks at the trials and tribulations of three best friends in Ghana. The author gives us a front-row seat to the obstacles that come with friendship, relationships and love.

A Girl is A Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

A Girl is A Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

A coming of age story that centres around Kirabo, a girl growing up in Uganda during Idi Amin’s dictatorship. The novel follows Kirabo as she finds herself without her mother; simultaneously looking at folktales and traditions, and how they affect women in a patriarchal society.

PODCASTS

Chicken and Jollof Rice
The show gives us the perception of first-generation African-Americans who are a blend of African and African-American experiences. The podcast strikes a balance of serious and light-hearted tone as social issues of all kinds are addressed.

Knowledge Bandits

A podcast that aims at giving a spotlight to the successful, game-changing entrepreneurs of Africa. Arum Galadime, the host and producer of the podcast states, “…with the right mentorship, advice, work ethic and motivation, anyone can achieve a certain level of greatness.”

Good Things Guy

Image: Good Things Guy Podcast


A show with a difference that aims at only spreading good vibes. The podcast grew from a blog with the same premises to what it is today. Brent Lindeque focuses on bringing only good positive news to his listeners in a world where the bad seems to be taking centre stage. A podcast that uplifts as it reminds listeners it’s not all bad.

https://player.fm/series/good-things-guy-2333133

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Entertainment

The Senseless Loss of Zimbabwean Actress, Anne Nhira

Anne was attacked while descending a mountain where she had gone for morning prayers with her brother Juan.

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The Late Anne Nhira

Hazel Lifa


2021 claims yet another African talent that was Anne Nhira. Nhira was an actress, model, talent manager and film producer who found success in the early 90s through her role as Vimbai on the Zimbabwean hit soapie, Studio 263. Nhira succumbed to injuries sustained during a robbery in Bedford View, South Africa on the 11th of March 2021.

According to Nhira’s brother, Juan Nhira, “She sustained injuries on her chest area, rib cage and back during a robbery on Monday afternoon (8th March) in Bedford View, South Africa. She was only 38years of age.” Anne was attacked while descending a mountain where she had gone for morning prayers with her brother Juan.

Nhira featured in projects like South African film, ‘The Rapist’, popular soapie, ‘Zabalaza’ and soapie, “Ndafunga Dande” where she got to take part in the behind-the-camera aspect of production. Staying true to her musical upbringing, Nhira tried her hand at music in 2013 with her single, ‘The One’.

She worked up a storm in 2017 when she publically criticized the Zimbabwean Ministry of Tourism for hiring Zodwa Wabantu to perform at the Harare International Carnival. Nhira managed to get the respective authority’s attention, which led to Zodwa losing the job. Nhira also launched Anne Studios International, a company that specialises in talent scouting and management.

The Government of Zimbabwe has granted Anne a state-assisted funeral because of her immense contributions in the arts industry.

Nhira’s death is one of those acts of senseless violence that didn’t need to end in death. Go well Anne, we appreciate all the fond memories you afforded us through your work, particularly on Studio 263.

#RIPAnneNhira

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Entertainment

What’s #Trending In The Entertainment Industry – March Edition

Sha Sha has landed a feature on the soundtrack album of the highly anticipated sequel to Coming to America, dropping on the 5th of March 2021 when Coming 2 America premieres on Amazon Prime.

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Image: Coming 2 America Soundtrack Cover

MUSIC

Spotify coming to Africa

Image: Spotify Logo

Spotify announced it would be expanding into over 80 countries, and over 30 of those countries are in Africa. The company said it would be launching content and features that will grow over time, as part of its on-going commitment to create a borderless audio ecosystem. The markets include Burundi, Lesotho, Rwanda, Madagascar and Zimbabwe among others. The expansion will put Spotify’s reach at around 173 countries, and will come with the addition of 36 languages to the platform.

Spotify’s announcement comes a year after Apple music announced a similar move of expansion, a focus on the African markets was also expressed. Whatever the story is we love the usually ignored African demographic is finally getting the attention it deserves.

SAMA 2021 Entries Breaking Records

Image Source: East Coast Radio

The South African Music Awards (SAMAs) has seen a substantial increase in entries for its 27th edition. Reaching well over 1,000 entries, the call for submissions started in November 2020 and closed on January 31st, 2021. A notable increase in entries can be seen over the years with this year’s 1,163 a world away from last year’s 802. The Best Collaboration category received the most submissions at 170 entries. The vetting and judging processes are underway; we will hear those who made the shortlist in April.

“We are humbled that the industry has voted in overwhelmingly great numbers that they believe the SAMA has a place in their careers and the industry they operate in” stated Nhlanhla Sibisi, CEO of the Recording Industry of South Africa (RISA).

Sha Sha to Feature on Coming 2 America Soundtrack Album

Image: Zimbabwean musician, Sha Sha

The Queen of Amapiano has landed a feature on the soundtrack album of the highly anticipated sequel to Coming to America. Sha Sha is to feature on one of the soundtracks with South Africa’s Tellaman and Nigeria’s Oxlade. The album is titled, Rhythms of Zamunda: Music Inspired by Coming 2 America, and will feature other African artists like Tekno, Prince Kaybee, Tiwa Savage and Fally Ipupa. The album will drop on the 5th of March 2021 when Coming 2 America premieres on Amazon Prime.

MOVIES/TV

Loads of African Acts Nominated for Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards

Image: Nigerian Comedian, Emanuella

Comedienne, Emmanuella and the Ikorudu Bois have been nominated for the 2021 Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards. The Nigerian acts are under the African social media star category. A huge deal for these kids as they have been nominated alongside heavy hitters like South Africa’s Bonang and Kenya’s Elsa Majimbo.

The virtual awards ceremony will air on the 14th of March and hosted by Nickelodeon veteran, Kenan Thompson. Voting is on-going on Nickelodeon worldwide, good luck guys!

Judas and the Black Messiah

Image: Judas and the Black Messiah

The film is an American biographical drama that looks at the story of Fed Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in the late 60s. The biopic is centred on William O’Neal’s disloyalty to Hampton. The film has been praised by critics for the acting and directing, and it’s available to watch on HBO Max.

You Will Die at Twenty

Image: You will die at twenty

You will die at 20 is a Sudanese drama that follows the existence of a boy who was told he would die when he reached the age of 20 by a holy man in a remote village. Directed by Amjad Abu Alalal, the film was selected as the Sudanese entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards, but it was not nominated. It was the first time Sudan had made a submission in the category. It was initially released on January 8th, 2020 in France.

BOOKS

At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop

At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop

The book looks at the experience of Alfa Ndiaye, one of the many Senegalese men that fought in WW1 for the French. The novel details Alfa’s quest for German blood triggered by witnessing his friends die horrific deaths during the war. The story explicitly conveys the horrors and consequences that many African soldiers faced fighting for colonial powers.

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah

The novel reiterates the experience of colonialism on not only nations but individuals. The book explores the effect of colonialism from; the African characters who kill their own in the colonizer’s name, to the Africans who are punished for the colonizers’ education like Afiya. The novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

Set during Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia. At the heart of the story is a house girl named Hirut who is on the verge of joining the war. Her interactions with other characters in the book give the reader an understanding of the height of the brutality, from rape to violence. The book shines a light on the forgotten female soldiers of Ethiopia.

PODCASTS

Talking Heads

Based in Cape Town, this podcast is a platform to identify, showcase and create opportunities for African thought leaders. The show focuses on giving centre stage to everyday impressive Africans making a difference whether in their communities or on a global scale. An interesting podcast if you are into the future of Africa as we navigate the global environment.

Afropop Worldwide

An award-winning podcast dedicated to music from Africa and the African dispora. It is hosted by African personality, Georges Collinet. The show offers African flavour from South Africa to Senegal to Cuba, and around the world some more. The podcast goes an extra mile further giving its listeners live concert recording of greats like Kanda Bongo Man, and an opportunity to meet starts and newcomers on the African music scene. Looking to get lost in African music? This show is the best place to start.

Bad Missonary Podcast

Hosts, Gret Glyer and Prince Inglis bring together their wildly different pasts to answer questions about life in Africa and the biggest news in Malawi and the US. With one coming from a privileged upbringing and the other poverty, you can be sure opinions and perspective dissimilarities will make for an interesting listen.

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