Come to Life Presents: Masauko – An Album By Masauko Chipembere
This short music documentary about Masauko Chipembere was made over a two-week journey in Southern Africa to produce his latest record with Come To Life. Even though Masauko was born in exile in Los Angeles, his ancestral homeland is Malawi. For years, he had been traveling to Malawi to work with Ernest Ikwanga and Sam Mkandawire, two of the most respected young musicians in the country. Sadly, Malawi had no real studio spaces as the country has never had a chance to fully invest in the arts due to its status as one of the poorest countries in the world. However, there are other ways to quantify wealth. Consequently, while financially poor, Malawi is culturally rich; a feature that Masauko believes this documentary demonstrates. Malawians are a people who have ancient traditions connecting them to the earth, the sky, the wind, the trees and the ancestors. This album is the product of all these elements coming together.
The album’s creation finds its roots back during the US Presidential elections of November 2016 when Masauko was invited to a jam session on Salt Spring Island, Canada. A number of artists had also gathered on Salt Spring to deal with the coming of the new regime in the U.S. and to remind themselves that they could battle the destructive nature of the new political reality with creativity through art. They sang, they chanted, they cried, and testified. At the end of a particularly beautiful jam session, Masauko was standing with David from Guayaki and Daryl Chonka, who was the sound engineer for the event. David said, “We should start a record company.” Masauko simply agreed, suggesting that the moralistic nature that has characterized the Guayaki brand could make a positive impact on the music industry. Masauko never dreamed that Daryl would call him a few months later to say, “We are starting the record company we talked about and you are the first artist we want to make a record with.”
Come to Life is now a reality. Masauko’s record project has been a blessing. He has produced an album with Daryl Chonka that captured the richness of why he believes people call Malawi, “the warm heart of Africa.” The visual magic was captured by Syd Woodward from Come to Life, who Masauko believes documents him better than anyone else has before. Syd was willing to let Masauko take part in the editing process and he gave him the tools to tell his own story. This video gives a glimpse into the studio sessions in Cape Town where Masauko recorded the album and formed life-long bonds with the other musicians. The entire project captures the story of how a boy from Los Angeles, who spent years trying to find his African identity, finally made it home.
We look forward to the official release of Masauko’s record on June 16th, stay tuned for more on this amazing journey!