Msimbi Wa Kuda
When you first hear Yvonne sing you will be moved by the power and passion that laces her vocals. Singing a beautiful blend of afro-jazz and soul in her native language – Nsenga – she transports you to a new world of promise.
Having grown up in Eastern Province speaking mostly Nsenga, it‘s no wonder that that is her favourite languages to sing in. “I love to sing in Nsenga. It is my mother’s language and it sounds sexy. Plus it brings out the feelings in my songs the most,” she explains.
Yvonne Mwale, who was born in 1988 in Zambia, says she was born to sing. “I chose to make music because I was born with it. I can’t do anything else. I love music, it’s a part of me and I can’t survive without it.”
Yvonne’s journey has been anything but easy. When she lost both parents, aged only 12, she lost everything. Whilst living on the streets of Lusaka, she continued to sing and push her musical career.
Yvonne has, despite many unfortunate circumstances, managed to carve out her career and remain active internationally performing at such events as the Jahazi Jazz Festival (Zanzibar), playing big festivals in Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. In Europe, among others festivals, she has performed at Jazz & The City in Salzburg, Musig am Zürisee, Tollwood Festival and headlined the KASUMAMA Festival in Austria. Yvonne has also performed two concerts with Delmar Brown (who has collaborated with Sting and The Police, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, among others).
She feels that being a woman in the music industry has taught her valuable life lessons. “I learnt that it’s actually more important to know how to sing than to be sexy. People will judge you based on how you present yourself. I learnt to be focused and to be brave,” she explains. “You’ll be approached by people who have wrong intentions and there are plenty of temptations. Be disciplined, stick to your principles and be ready and able to defend yourself.”
Yvonne has been based in Germany for several years and regular tours often have her on the road. Exciting as the globetrotting is, Yvonne misses home and never forgets her Zambian Roots. “I still love my nshima. That’s probably the most Zambian thing about me, I love my nshima and vinkubala.”
Yvonne is excited to play in Zambia after so many years. “I’ve been looking forward to playing in my own country for a long time. I’ve been on the road now for a couple of years. The last time I performed in Zambia with my own band, called Nyali, was in 2010. It’s such a privilege for me after all these years to finally show my own people what I have been working on.”
While Yvonne is happy to play in Zambia again she feels there is room for improvement within the local music industry. “In my opinion their music would improve if artists would talk about real experiences and everyday life issues. Some lyrics make we wonder what the artist wants to express.
Music today is hard to enjoy because it lacks inspiration and it doesn’t educate you. Zambians also need to give more support to aspiring talented musicians and we need to work on our musical integrity and learn to play live music.” Yvonne’s favourite Zambian artists include James Sakala and the late Paul Ngozi.
While on her previous albums Yvonne was often singing about experiences from her past, in her new projects she focuses on having a positive look to the future. “I would love to have a super power to changes peoples minds to make them be more peaceful and the world a better place. That’s why I like to sing encouraging songs.”
Yvonne is currently playing numerous concerts in Germany and neighbouring countries to present her new album.
Yvonne Mwale Discography
In 2011, a year after winning the Ngoma Award for Best Upcoming Artist Yvonne released her debut album, Kalamatila. The album introduced her to audiences beyond Zambia’s borders and beyond.
Yvonne’s sophomore album combined blues, jazz and elements of gospel. A deeply reflective album, Yvonne takes a look at her journey and struggles she’s faced.
Her third album was a departure from the previous one, with a more positive vibe and the high energy levels that Yvonne’s live performances are known for.