Music Crossroads Champions Women's Participation
When the local music industry was taking shape in the early 1980s, most ladies did not take part because society discouraged them.
If they joined music groups, they were scorned or given unpalatable names such as prostitutes or infidels if they were married.
The few brave ladies who defied odds to join the music industry could only act as backing vocalists or erotic stage dancers. Perhaps, this later kind of job for women was the one that fuelled the belief among parents and aspiring female artists that the music industry was not fit for women.
Today, however, although many people have come to appreciate the important role women play in the industry, still many ladies fear to join or create their own music groups or become band leaders due to cultural; beliefs, inferiority complex, luck of courage and motivation.
This is the reasons why the organizers of Music Crossroads encouraged many girls to join the competition by conducting a three-day music training workshops that saw 63 participating girls drawn Eastern, Northern and Southern Region in this year’s on going competition.
This is the first time for Music Crossroads Southern Africa Malawi chapter to organize special workshops for female participants.
According to Music Crossroads’ Coordinator Mathews Mfune, less than 20 girls participated in the festivals and competitions last year. “It is pleasing to note however, that for the ones who have gone through Music Crossroads, some have made good strides in the industry”.
Among the notable ladies that have been nurtured through Music Crossroads include Regina Mhango, Wendy Harawa, Patience Chaponda, Princess Chitsulo, Ruth Missi, Elevance Muyaba, Hariet Msungama, Portia Mponela, Ireen Mwinjiro, Jane Khongwa and Tionge Phiri.
“So we are very much amused that although the contest is on-going with only the Central Region finale remaining, 63 young women have already participated from the three regions. Thirty are from the Northern region, 17 from Eastern and 16 from the South.
“That’s why, we feel it is important to shape many girls into well manicured artists so that we have more females who can help in the socio-economical development of this country,” he said.
Mfune said the workshop was aimed at boosting their self esteem, confidence as well as giving them musical and leadership skills in the music industry in order for them to realize their full potential.
One of the graduates of the Music Crossroads, Wendy Harawa, said most women shun artistic works because of ever- growing misconceptions among the people that most of female artists have loose morals.
“Since art goes with stage performance, it’s tough for them to display their talent on stage for fear of being branded notorious and prostitutes,” she said.
The Southern region concert that took place last Sunday at the Warehouse Cultural Centre in Blantyre, saw 16 women participating. And the leading and the backing vocalists of the winning bands (the Great Pillars) were girls.
At the Warehouse concert Great Pillars and Moshef bands were chosen to represent the South in the national finals slated for August, 2008 in Lilongwe.
The two now join Mighty Ivory, Melodies of Praise From the Eastern Region and Ntchemo and Strangers from the North before Central Region Finals March 9 at Kamuzu Institute in Lilongwe.
Report by Justice Mponda, (MALAWI NEWS, 1 MARCH, 2008)