Article by Phyllis Luganda
Published March 28, 2008
Afrizo singers in America
Talented multi-lingual Kenyan singer, composer and voice coach Hellen Akoth Mtawali, has just released a new album that she used to raise funds for needy students during her 100-day fundraising and performance tour of the USA.
The new album, Echo: Change Begins with Me, has nine tracks in Dholuo, Nigerian Pidgin English, Kiswahili and Sheng.
Itelona (You guide me), the first song, tells about God’s guidance and comfort from the troubles of the world.
JC P.O.A, the second song tells of the power of Jesus Christ while Mama Yangu (my mother) pays tribute to motherhood.
The lead song, Echo: Change Begins With Me, advises people to change themselves first if they want to change the world.
Mago Mago cautions Christians against hypocrisy of any kind.
Other songs are Child of Hope, My Hands, Woman of Africa and Ang’o.
Listeners who wish to can easily and quickly learn the songs and sing along since repetition has been used in most of the songs but the composer could have added more words to the songs to make them more relevant to the listeners.
The instruments used are in harmony with the voices.
With her group, Afrizo (African Zone), Mtawali says they are about to release another album due to public demand. However due to the runaway piracy level of intellectual property rights in Kenya, their first album is only available from Daystar U.S.A or from the group.
During their US tour, Afrizo, that came into being in 2002,visited and performed in churches, colleges, schools and homes in Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona and California to raise scholarship money for needy students at Daystar University where Mtawali is a lecturer in music.
Mtawali, a singer, song writer, choir director, music lecturer and voice coach whose music career began while she was an undergraduate student, says, “The tour was very successful since we were able to get more than the US$150,000 that we had targeted. We managed to sell more than three thousand copies of our debut album, Echo: Change Begins with Me; at US$15 each.”
Afrizo, that performs spiritual music in churches and corporate functions including but not limited to conferences, graduation ceremonies, book launches, weddings, birthday parties and festivals, plans to release a second album. Like in 2007, Mtawali is in 2008 a Tusker Project Fame voice coach.