Frank Kapesa is known more for his exploits in the world of broadcast news than for his music. Yet music as always been a part of him.
Those who have worked with him know that there is always a guitar staring at him from the corner of his office, lulling him to pluck it. Occasionally, he parts company news scripts holds the guitar in an embrace and belts out a tune or two.
On Thursday evening, Kapesa decided it was time to unveil his musical side and a sizable, cozy audience at Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Mandala, Blantyre, was there to suck it all in as he gave them a taste of what he calls Chitipian music.
He played 10 songs, a mix of what I’ll call Northern ballads and few of his own before wrapping it up with a Lhomwe song. Towards the end, his wife Tiyezge and his sister in law netball coach Peace Chawinga Kaluwa joined him on stage.
“Traditionally, I would love to play Ngwaya, but Ngwaya is more of celebratory songs...But what I play is a lot lamentations. Back home we call it Kuphunza, a type of dance that is played at funerals.
"A lot of songs that I played over here, were related to that. I focus much on lamentations, because even in our cry there is song, perhaps it’s not amplified, so I would like to amplify it.
Ethnomusician Walikho Makhala moderates the discussion after Kapesa's performance
“I find very little Chitipian music on air, the music from Chitipa has never really been heard, so I decided to share the music from my village. There are so many tribes in Chitipa, so many sounds, more than 20, but I’ve just chosen to share just one of them," he told the audience
Sounds of Malawi Acoustic nights, appear to be something extraordinary. After a performance, the audience can grill the artist. Though more accustomed to being the one asking questions, it was time for Kapesa to take a couple from the audience.
"I should appreciate you Frank, but where were you hiding this music all this time?" asked theatre guru Mcarthur Matukuta. Kapesa's response: "there is a time for everything".
Some just had comments. Like his longtime friend Eldson Chagara: "I've worked with Frank since the early 90s I did not know he had such a talent. He's got his own kind of unique voice, keep this up".
Vincent Phiri, himself a journalist said: "It is time to showcase what we have as Malawians, often times we showcase what is borrowed but we need to support and promote this because it is talent unlimited".
Kapesa said in an interview later, the reception that he got has encouraged him to record the 30 plus songs that he has.
A new chapter just began.