#TBT: Living Musical Star – Yvonne Mwale

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FROM being double orphaned at the age of 12 and a rape victim to being destitute, Zambian Germany-based singing sensation Yvonne Mwale is simply a true revelation of an exceptional recording and performing diva.

Following the demise of her father in 2000, all Yvonne’s hopes in life lay squarely in her mother’s comfort. But it was not to be.
In a space of three months, the 26-year-old songstress lost her mother, a blow which further devastated her and her young siblings; a brother and two sisters.My father Michael Mwape was a government worker while my mother Jelitha Mwanza was a member of the Masiye Band, Yvonne said.
After relocating to Chipata from Roma in Lusaka, Yvonne enrolled at Hillside Secondary School, where life, according to her, was normal.
Yvonne recounted: My parents tried to raise us as normal as possible without having that feeling of being any special.
But after the death of her father, Yvonne was informed by her relatives that actually the man she called dad was not her biological father. And her nightmares began.
A victim of property grabbing herself, Yvonne and her siblings moved to her uncle’s home where she says life became even more unbearable. She later dropped out of school.
At only 12, Yvonne said sometimes the young children went without food, even after toiling with some house chores for most of the day.
“We depended on a kind neighbour who would provide us with some food”, but that was once in a while, Yvonne recalled.

With no permanent place to call home, Yvonne went on job-hunting errands for several months, even when it meant cleaning and cooking at people’s homes.
Her efforts did not, however, got unnoticed as one woman finally took her on a permanent basis, the move which was to turn her life into more nightmares.
During one of her normal working days, Yvonne encountered what would be one of her most frightening experiences in life. She was raped!
The Good Samaritan who took me as a maid lived with her brother-in-law who one day took advantage of her absence and raped me.I called it quits, Yvonne said amid sobs.

At 15, after noticing that she was pregnant, she decided to confront the family, which reluctantly took her in their home. This time, she says, she was at the brutal mercy of her rape victim.
Before trekking to Lusaka, Yvonne went to live with her aunt in a village called Mumphi in Petauke, before settling down as a maid and later a hotel cleaner in Chipata.I worked as a house girl and later got a job at a hotel in Chipata, but still without a place I could call home. But after saving some money, I jumped on the first bus to Lusaka to realise my dream of becoming a singer, she said.
In Lusaka, Yvonne bumped into the B-Sharp band which was looking for a back-up singer and ended up sharing the stage with the likes of Mwale Sisters, Mampi and Uncle Rex.

I think my big break arrived in 2009 when I was named Ngoma Award Best Upcoming Female Artiste. I later participated in the Music Crossroads competition, she said.
After all this, she recorded her first album titled Vilimba with her own band called Nyali, the group she later toured with extensively around Europe.
Nyali toured eight countries in Europe, performing 50 shows, among them the Festival Afrique in the Netherlands and Festival De La Corporation in Spain.
Other shows were the Wild Rose Festival (Sweden), Imagine Festival (Norway) and Lake of Stars (Malawi).
In 2011, I left for Tanzania after rumours resurfaced there that my biological father was alive, but instead I bumped into a man who is my current husband,Yvonne said.

Yvonne quickly got sown to work and started recording her debut solo album Kalamatila, under a Denmark-based record label before embarking on her tour of East Africa.
Some of her credentials include the performance with Dobet Gnahore from France and one at the National Museum Theatre with a US-based group Maya Azucena.
In Zambia, Yvonne has jammed at the Alliance Francaise, Le Triumph Dolphin and the Mist Jazz Café at Levy Junction Mall, all in Lusaka.

In 2012, Yvonne performed at the Jahazi Jazz Festival before being nominated for the Montreux Jazz competition and Africa Most Influential Women In Business and Governance Awards.
She was a finalist in the Radio France International Prix Decouverte, before embarking on recording her album titled “Ninkale”. “Let Me Be” was released in July 2014. In September 2016, the latest album “Msimbi Wakuda” was released