WHEN I first met Brian Bwembya aka B-Flow around 2008 at Radio Phoenix in Lusaka, I had no clue he would one day make headlines and appear in one sentence with American President Barrack Obama.
I however noticed from the way the young artiste was articulating himself on the Local Rhythms Countdown Show that he was one sober and humble person dedicated to his work and was trying everything possible to promote his music.
Like any other artist at the time, making it on Phoenix Local Rhythms Countdown presented by a talented trio of DJs Lennon Shinde( DJ Len), Miyoba Gwaba( Ikandi) and Allan Mwale( Big AL) was a big achievement and step to determine one’s direction in music.
B-Flow’s first hit single ‘ Mutima Wanga’ produced by TK of Roma Side and fondly called ‘Mpu mpu mpu’ by many was the reason he was on Radio Phoenix that day as it had done so well on the charts and earned him that interview.
His major attraction from the song was his tongue-twister signature tune and heavy presence of the TK dance beat which popularised the song.
I got a chance to chat with him and was amazed at the level of humbleness in him. He pulled out a promo CD from the many he had in a plastic, gave me and asked me to help promote the song.
Within a few weeks that followed, I was happy to see him make prominent features on top entertainment shows which included Kalumba Chikonde’s ‘Pipo’s Choice’, Innocent Kalaluka’s ‘ ‘Smooth Talk’ and ‘ Born N’ Bred’ as well as Master LT’s ‘Zed Experience’ to mention only a few.
His producer and personal friend of mine TK was happy with the success of ‘Mpu mpu mpu’ and I remember at one of the shows at Break Point featuring Hamoba,TK and I were in the background when B-Flow opened for Hamoba.
The crowd went crazy with this youngster and TK told me he was very happy to have linked up with such great talent whom he asked me to profile in the newspaper one day.
TK was so passionate to talk about B-Flow’s discipline, responsibility and determination to work harder. Because of this, his music marriage to the young dancehall singer grew stronger and their preceding projects like “Bumble Gum Lover” featuring Kachanana and “Mosquito” doubled B-Flow’s fame to put him among the top of the game.
Songs like “ Waisa wasanika” and “ Umoyo Wanga” revealed that mature side of the singer who had now become highly identifiable among his peers that collaborated with him like late singer and his close friend P-Jay, Bryan, T-Sean, T-Boy, Slap Dee, OC and all.
Producers like KB of K-Army Studios, Jerry D of Cabin studios, Obama Records and many others also courted this talent which at the time had become a brand name.
Perhaps what even kept B-Flow stronger on his feet and easy to work with at the time was his respect to fellow artists, and openness to criticism.
He may have raised dust to many of the XYZ followers when he featured on Macky2’s anthem “Ndimupondo” as he was also working with SlapDee, but I remember his response when I raised a question on this in one of my interactions with him.
“I don’t do music to diss people or promote hate; I do music because it is good music. You will never hear me sing about insults, disrespect and vulgar language,” he told me.
And evidently so, B-Flow seemed to have set a standard for his music. One strong thing that stands out about him is that ability to consult. Any one who has worked with him will tell you he is a singer who never hides his admiration for successful people and for such he is always in constant consultation of such individuals.
This is the main reason he did a remix of ‘Wasanika’ with the legendary Maureen Lilanda and seasoned artiste DANNY. That is not all, you will also notice the singer has collaborated with the likes of MC Wabwino, OC, JK, Exile to name a few. This in itself, gave the singer prominence on the Zambian music stage.
His later projects identified him as a passionate voice for the women as most songs were now centred on women issues. This is emphasised in his most recent album “Voiceless Women” which I believe gave him this opportunity of representing Zambia under the Young African Leadership Initiative (Y.A.L.I).
But just where did B-Flow get the inspiration to sing about women?
I remember him speaking highly of his late mum and in responding to this particular question he said, “I get the inspiration from my background. I grew up with mum after loosing my dad at an early age. I saw the love and how caring my mother was to us and this is common to most of the women in Zambia.”
This of course, was amplified by what he has witnessed in our country. These are everyday issues to do with gender-based violence. His strength to do this also is as a result of his many ambassadorial roles he has within this country to champion women’s rights.
Additionally, B-Flow has on several times stated that music must make an impact. Its message must inspire change and help develop lives.
I am not surprised his current campaign of ‘Music for Change’ particularly won him kudos at this year’s Y.A.L.I summit and importantly attracted President Obama to recognise him in the following words:
“ And I know you have been busy, over the past few weeks at schools and businesses all across America you been taking courses developing your skills you need to make your ideas a reality, so that you continue to do the great work that you already been doing but to take it to the next level. That’s what Brian Bwembya of Zambia plans to do, where is Brian? Where is he? There he is right there (crowd cheers) So, Brian uses music to advocate against things like gender-based violence and educate youths on HIV/AIDS…”
This shout out from Obama has earned B-Flow immense respect and congratulations from prominent people especially in the entertainment world.
When I contacted B-Flow following this huge shout out from a great leader, I specifically asked him what this means to him now. He said he was humbled but most importantly he insisted Obama has just given him a big go ahead to create music for change.
“I have been encouraged to set up this organisation and campaign. I will work hard to help my country and the many youths.” he said.
However, I noticed that B-Flow’s efforts of making music for change did not start now; he embarked on this project when he released “Voiceless Woman” under RomaSide and Money Music.
This was the singer’s largest and most talked about album as it features stories and issues surrounding women in many Zambian homes nowadays. Songs like, “Side Plate,” “ Chitemene System,” and “ Baka Tipwanyila Mutima” stand out and give B-Flow that strong passion about the women issues.
From this album, B-Flow has done a lot of work with local organisations and this was an easier way to make it to this year’s Y.A.L.I summit. In case you asked how he got that chance, B-Flow has been brand ambassador for AIDS Health Care Foundation, USAID-Funded SHAReII, Women’s Lobby, Commercial Markets for Conservation and UNFPA-Condomize Zambia,OXFAM to name a few.
His says, “The ministry of gender has been quite supportive lately, and I hope the government can see that we are not playing but fighting for development through the music and advocacy.”
From all this work, one realises that it does not come easy but calls for discipline and hard work.
What then has been B-Flow’s secret?
“B Flow is naturally a humble young man inspired by his humble late mum,” he says, insisting that despite this huge task that lies ahead of him nothing has changed about his character. One attribute to his character is not forgetting who has helped him climb that ladder to fame.
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