It's unfortunate that noise-rock trio the Noisettes canceled their tour. The good…
- Posted on Oct 21st 2010 5:00PM by Andrea Lynett
Lake of Stars
Heralded as "the best live band in Britain" by the Guardian, the Noisettes certainly live up to their rocking reputation during their headlining set at this year's Lake of Stars music festival. With lead singer Shingai Shoniwa's acrobatic displays, which she topped by crowd-surfing during the finale of their '60s-tinged single 'Never Forget Me,' the performance of sultry jazz, electro-rock and classic soul was nothing short of exceptional.
Each October, music lovers and local and international artists from all over Africa and the UK, infiltrate the warm heart of Africa -- as Malawi is coined -- to come together and embrace the power of live music.
"We're here to do a cultural exchange," Shoniwa tells Spinner, clarifying that they did not come to the festival to show African musicians how to do it their way. "We're here to show them that in London people dig African music. To go and hear African music in Africa is amazing."
Simone Joyner/Getty Images
Wrapping up its seventh year, the 2010 edition of the arts-tourism festival saw popular acts from the UK, like the Noisettes, M.I.A collaborator Afrikan Boy and Tinashé share the spotlight with African heavyweights, such as Aly Keita (Cote D'Ivoire), Oliver Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe) and Sally Nyundo (Malawi). The wide array of musical styles blending together is what makes Lake of Stars unique and vastly different from typical mainstream international festivals.
Sitting comfortably on a lounge chair in an elevated cove, waves crashing against the nearby shoreline, the Noisettes admit that they've "always wanted to play Africa."
Shoniwa, whose Zimbabwean roots cause her to hold a special place in her heart for Africa, says she "didn't really come with any expectations, apart from something that I really, really wanted to give, which was a beautiful performance that I thought would be really beautiful for the people here." With people swaying and singing to the band's catchy lyrics, there isn't any doubt that they accomplished their goals.
Another highlight of the weekend for many festival enthusiasts was seeing international Zimbabwean sensation Oliver Mtukudzi perform. Having composed music for over 35 years, his local and international following has amplified over the years, in part due to his husky voice and personal musical style known as "Tuku" music -- a style that incorporates different musical traditions.
"I didn't choose, they chose me," says an ecstatic Mtukudzi. "I'd like to perform with these youngsters, talented guys I have never met before, and this is my opportunity to do that. It's a special event, where people can come and watch new talent."
According to up-and-coming Malawian DJ Drew, Lake of Stars is "a great opportunity and a good platform to showcase my skills and what I do." Through this experience, he has been able to network with international producers and artists, which he feels is a great way "to get to know what they do, and what I love to do as well... combine the experiences together and make a step from there."
Additionally, the three-day festival, which ran from Oct 15-17, allows both attendees and artists the chance to sample theatrical performances and traditional dishes, as well as arts and crafts made by locals, on top of the live musical acts, which range from six-piece bands to house DJs.
This year, the country's Minister of Tourism, Dr. Ken Lipenga, even opened the festival by skydiving tandem onto the pristine beach of the Sunbird resort in beautiful Mangochi. The hype and excitement surrounding the event is what propelled Nigerian born, London-based grime/Afrobeat MC Olushola Ajose -- better known by his stage name Afrikan Boy -- to want to perform at this year's festival.
"I was supposed to be here last year, but I couldn't sort out the flights," he says. Having garnered a chance to perform in front of the Lake of Stars crowd this year, he says, "It was amazing for me to be on that stage. You have the townspeople showering me with money, and it was really touching in a sense ... it's my vision now, and I want to just work even harder and start making things happen."
Afrikan Boy says his collaboration with M.I.A. on her album 'Kala,' inspired him to want to take all opportunities as a chance to improve on his own "hybrid sound," as well as work with other artists from different backgrounds.
"I hustled my way to be a part of this," he says. "It's not possible to come here once and not want to come back."
British newspaper The Independent named Lake of Stars one of the 20 best festivals in the world and organizers say it has drawn over 10,000 attendees since 2004 and pumped US$750,000 into Malawi's economy. This past weekend, over 3,000 people were in attendance.
"I would definitely have to be back at Lake of Stars next year -- 100 percent," says Afrikan Boy with his contagious grin. "It's the start of something great."