A SHOOTING STAR
Goosebumps. In a word, this is what you feel when you hear Esther Chungu sing. From her powerful vocals and amazing stage presence, her music truly gives you a spiritual experience. Singing mostly in Bemba and English, her music has an authentic Afrocentricity that is amplified by her use of African print outfits and head wraps. Having released her debut album Mubanga in 2016 with the popular single ‘Jehovah,’ Esther has taken the gospel industry by storm.
Breaking onto the music scene with her debut single ‘Shooting Star,’ Esther has continued to be just that – a light soaring to new heights. The gospel singer has become a household name outside Zambia’s borders and is making waves across the African continent and beyond. She has performed as far afield as China. Ever bubbly, Esther has taken up the mandate to create a positive impact and spread God’s love through song wherever possible. Drawing inspiration from her musical mother, and coming from a musical family, Esther started singing at the age of eight and hasn’t looked back since.
Her journey has been eventful, with a number of changes in management, but she continues to overcome the hurdles and serves as a living reminder ¬that the blessings are coming.
“It has been an amazing journey with amazing experiences. Of course, there have been challenges but I love every second of it all. I’ve seen tremendous growth both in how I handle myself and how I express myself musically.”
Besides her undeniable talent, Esther attributes her success to having a good management team. On what makes a good management team she shares, “I’d say someone who genuinely cares for your brand and will fully understand your vision. Someone who will see your value and represent you effectively. And honestly, someone who is a fan of your work,” Esther adds with her infectious good-natured laugh.
Esther’s career has seen her collaborate with a number of amazing local and international artists including Mag 44, James Sakala, Geo and her now fiancé Pompi a.k.a Chaka Nyathando.
“Honestly all the experiences mean so much to me and I had so much fun with all of them. However, I really had fun with my brother and friend, Malawian gospel artist Faith Musa, who I featured in my latest album.”
2020 saw her release Esther’s second album, April, which features the sounds of the Jedidiah Learning Steps Choir, Fishers of Men, Chef 187, Christine, 412 and South African Takie Ndou. The album takes after inspiration from the meaning of the word April, [to blossom] and features refreshing music reminiscent of spring time. The project embodies the concept of opening up and growing.
Highlights of Esther’s career include making her debut at the Stanbic Music Festival in 2018 alongside international artist Joe Thomas and being recognised as Woman of the Year at the Anakazi Banking Zambian Women of the Year awards for her contribution to music in the same year.
“Of course, there have been challenges but I love every second of it all. I’ve seen tremendous growth both in how I handle myself and how I express myself musically.”
“So many amazing things have happened but another highlight would be the time I went to sing in China. I was reminded that my dreams are valid, that what God is doing is real and my only obstacle would be me standing in my own way.”
Having been propelled into the public eye, Esther expresses that it’s important to practice being with people who she loves that love her too. This she practices by ensuring that she doesn’t put unnecessary expectations on herself for the sake of pleasing the world. “I’m very comfortable in my own skin and that has really helped me stay true.”
When asked about what it’s like to date someone who is also in the spotlight, she tells Nkwazi that the hardest part is the entitlement the general public has regarding their relationship. She also gives us a little insight on some of her favourite things about Pompi.
“People feeling entitled to know every bit of the relationship is quite much but we are both very private beings and so we have found a way of balancing it out.
Some of my favourite things about him are that he loves people. That’s a huge plus for me. I love how he challenges me intellectually and always pushes me to be better. I also love it when he finally gets a joke and laughs way after I’ve already laughed. These are just a few of my favourite things,” Esther reveals. In addition to being a songbird Esther is also a TV host, having been part of the Zambezi magic talk show Tuvwange alongside, Mutale Mwanza, Natasha Van Der Maas and Michelo Malambo.
“It was really beautiful and was a welcoming experience. I have always loved media and saw myself in that element and so when it came to pass, I was pleased. One of my friends, Jay Rox, believed in me and gave me an opportunity that opened a door in media that I’ll always be grateful for.”
By the end of our chat Esther is in a reflective mood. Reflecting on her journey thus far and looking back to her younger self her advice to Carmine (Esther’s former stage name) would be, ‘Don’t stop believing in yourself. Never try to prove yourself, what God has placed in your hands is your tool. You are enough.”