It is undeniable that unemployment is one major problem young people in Zambia are facing, making plenty of youth flock to the entertainment industry, especially music, to try to earn a living. Although music sales in the country are not as good as in the developed world partly due to piracy, the rewards from the industry are now coming from stage performances mainly at local nightclubs or scheduled functions.
It’s clear to see that the more shows an artiste plays, the more money they’ll make but this is only possible if their music is on demand. With the stiff competition, lack of political will to guide the sector and above all the demands required to keep up with the celebrity status, one wonders why young people are still opting for music rather than sticking to education to get a formal job.
The Education Post spoke to three young people in the music world to get their experiences in the sector. Cynthia Chalwe, 24, popularly known as Maya (pictured above) has been in the industry for close to a year now as a budding hip-hop artiste who joined the sector after acquiring a Diploma in Law – she shares her challenges so far.
“I believe there are challenges in everything and music is not an exception. I personally have problems with creating time for other people and other things and because of this my family were a bit hesitant in showing their support, especially that they expected me to take up a formal job,” she says, “For me getting into it (music) was more to do with the love for it, but eventually it helps me to also earn an income. I am happy everyone knows what they want and I know what I want because I believe that only if you know what you want and work towards it, can you achieve many things,” Maya whose debut single Life Ya ma Diva produced by her crew XYZ, says she is about to complete her debut album.
“Positively music has changed me, I have become more open to people and in the process, I have discovered that as a young artiste, I can use my name to even venture into other things that will benefit others, I am still keen on going back to school and later get that corporate job but for now I am concentrating on my first album,” she says emphasising to her fellow youths that “in life, when you are yourself, you will make it.”
Chanda Joseph aka CJ is another artiste trying to make it in the industry with his first album Umutwe Wamunobe just recently released. CJ completed school in 2008 but chose music to expose his talent and most importantly, to earn an income which will eventually enable him to pursue other avenues in life.
“I have always enjoyed school since I was young but you know education has become expensive so my hope is to earn money through music and later go back to school. I want to pursue pharmacy but music is my talent which I have chosen to live with,” he says. Having worked with the likes of Jerry Fingers and Baska Baska as producers for his 12-track album, CJ hopes he will realise his investment and focus on widening his skill and appeals for support. “I appeal for more people to support us because there are so many of us young people in music. It is our employment and the problems can be reduced if we work together,” CJ adds registering his advice to the youths as, “never feel shy to try out a lot of things to earn a living, one day you will have your greatest dream. “
For 20-year-old Vida Mwale aka Vida, a school leaver, music has been her long-term plan and her aim is to use it to voice out the many issues surrounding young people which are her main target. Vida, who is working on her debut album to be released soon by NBI, believes so much in education and dreams of becoming a lawyer or journalist. “I think for me, the best time I can do music is now when I am so energetic. It is not so much for the money for me but talent. I just left school and because I love music, I took a chance to try it and at the same time pursue studies. The idea is that one can still manage to combine the two if they just work hard, “she argues adding that her greatest dream is to become a successful yet academic musician.
Vida draws her inspiration from artiste Mampi.