In this edition of Passport we preview the debut release from Keturah, Malawi's rising singing star.

Keturah - Keturah (Available May 19, 2023)


This album marks an important milestone in Keturah's career; it has been a long road from the days when as a 10-year-old she performed with her uncle, a banjo virtuoso and singer, to this debut album that she recorded in the US. Now 27-years-old, her stated goal is to keep the ancient sounds of Malawi alive and here she does so quite spectacularly, with some modern sounds mixed in as well. Keturah has a velvety-smooth voice and her lyrics are sung in Chichewa, a prevailing language in Malawi. Folks the world over are smitten with Keturah, and not just members of the general public. When she recorded Keturah in Venice Beach, California she was joined in the studio by luminaries like John Densmore of the Doors, Los Angeles soul singer Chris Pierce, Zimbabwean guitar wizard Louis Mhlanga, Magatte Sow ("Black Panther" soundtrack) and jazz pianist Jamael Dean.

Even though Keturah's album will not be out until mid-May, fans of African music can get a good taste of the release through the album's just-released first single, "Kwanumkwanu." Keturah says the song is based on the African proverb that says "However far the stream flows it never forgets its source," meaning that people who travel far from home should not forget their roots. "You can go wherever you want," Keturah says, "But always remember where you come from." It is so easy to enjoy Keturah's voice and music that the listener will not have to spend a lot of time wondering what her songs are about, at least not in the moment. "Ku Nyumba" is a joyous dance number that recalls the stylings of both East African and West African music, "Nchiwewe," complete with harmonica, hints at the blues, gospel and country music while "Udzafele Zina" surprises with a prominent horn part that gives the sedate rhythm a bit of an attitude. Sung in both Chichewa and English, "All The Way from Africa" offers a sprightly bounce that name checks Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Namibia and many other African nations. Surely fans in all these countries will love Keturah.

While there is great joy in Malawi at the release of Keturah's music, right now there is also great sorrow in the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy which caused much loss of life and destruction in the country. Keturah has decided to donate all of the proceeds from the single "Kwanumkwanu" to the relief effort. The funds will go to the Jacaranda Foundation, a Malawian cultural center and school for orphans that is helping with aid during this difficult time. So if you purchase the single, available wherever you normally purchase digital music, you will be helping in the relief effort. To contribute directly to the Jacaranda Foundation go here.

Pre-order the album here and follow Keturah here.

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