|Born||1 January 1945|
|Died|| January 23, 2014 (aged 69) |
Pretoria, South Africa
|Instruments||Guitar, trumpet, saxophone|
Early life and education
Muyamwa was born on 1 January 1945 in Mongu, Western Province. From an early age he loved music and played in school bands. He later studied music theory by correspondence with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. He played guitar and later on learnt how to play trumpet and saxophone.
Muyamwa joined the Zambia Broadcasting Services (ZBS) (now ZNBC in 1965 as an announcer on the General Service, now Radio One, but was later inducted to become a news anchor, television presenter and introduced a programme called the Sunday Interview which had a good following.
In 1966, he was sent to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the United Kingdom to pursue a course and practical experience in TV production for nine months.
He left ZBS in 1972 to join the Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines (NCCM), where he rose to the rank of Director-Programmes, and later Public Relations Manager in what later became the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) Limited.
A founder member of the National Arts Council of Zambia (NAC), Muyamwa acquired literacy skills through a course with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and made several audio and video recordings, including MATANGU-Lozi Fireside Stories with English subtitles, and authored two books on Zambian music that have been recommended textbooks by the Curriculum Development Centre of Zambia. One of his books is entitled Zambian Traditional Rhythms. He had a deep passion in advancing the cause of music literacy among Zambian musicians.
Muyamwa started music at an early stage in Mongu where he was influenced by his uncle to play guitar.
When he left ZBS in 1972, Muyamwa had a stint at Malachite Studios in Chingola which was then being run by the mines where he linked up with late veteran folk singer and ZBS Kaonde section broadcaster Emmanuel Mulemena of the Mulemena Boys, which produced hits such as Mbokoshi Ya Lufu.
When he was transferred to Kitwe in 1976 to work at Mutondo House as divisional secretary, he formed a band called Conga Connection which had in its ranks Victor Kasoma, a former oscillation guitarist who took the lead guitar. Muyamwa took the second guitar while Peter Shiliba was on drums and Burton Mugala on bass.
The multi-instrumentalist, who used to run a shop on Lusaka’s Cairo Road called Art Mart, also played cabaret at Hotel Edinburgh in Kitwe alongside Thelma Holland with whom he recorded a single titled Feeling Happy.
His early influence was the African jazz which dominated the cities of the then Northern (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). He made several audio and video recordings of his compositions and adapted Zambian traditional songs which he transformed into contemporary danceable tunes.
A Zambian Guitar album (1976)
His debut album, which came at the time he had left ZBS for NCCM, was A Zambian Guitar, which he recorded at DB Studios in Lusaka in 1976, is considered one of the best instrumentals to ever be released in Zambia. An all-instrumental with an explicit saxophone, it had songs like Mama Rosa, Loving You (is my way of Living), Chiyeye, Windi La’ngani and Ikosole.
Yester Year album
He also released Yester Year, also recorded at DB Studios and engineered by the renowned sound technician Peter Musungilo. This album had songs like Maoma Alila, Mulisana, I am Going to the River (Am going, going, going) which the then ZBS adopted for its Children’s Radio programme. His other song, Memory Lane was also adopted by ZBS and came on as an interlude before the news.
Dance Zambia Dance album (1999)
After going relatively quiet in terms of albums, he came back in 1999 to release Dance Zambia Dance on which he was backed by Sista D (Daputsa Nkhata) and Sister Beauty (Beauty Matandalizwa). The title-track of the album Dance Zambia Dance (Kuna Ku Keng’a ku Unda, eng’aa), is a Lunda song which was equally popular on both radio and television. The album had other songs like Tilailane, Tutine, Nahaye Ya Zambia and Zambian Dance.
Muyamwa owned a shop on Cairo Road where he sold musical instruments. He was also a lover of visual art and attended many art exhibitions in Lusaka. Muyamwa was also a brilliant writer, a columnist, a serious art critic, a family man. He was married to Patricia and had seven children. At the time of his death, his wife was serving as first secretary for tourism at the Zambian High Commission in South Africa.
In his later days, Muyamwa lost his sight. He died on 23 January 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. The funeral service was held on 30 January 2014 at St Ignatius Catholic Church in Lusaka and was attended by hundreds of mourners who including then Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Mwansa Kapeya, artistes, senior Government officials and politicians.
He was once quoted by the British press in 2008 as one of the best Saxophonist in Zambia.
- Charles Muyamwa, Music Legacy, 24 December 2006
- Charles Muyamwa: End of multi talented veteran’s era… (Obituary), The Barotseland Post, 25 January 2014
- CHARLES MUYAMWA: DEATH OF A GENIUS, Times of Zambia, 30 January 2014
- Government mourns broadcaster and artiste Charles Muyamwa, UKZambians, 31 January 2014