1 June 2003

Zambia: Wonder Boy Releases Album

Lusaka — Zambia's wonder boy, musician Jordan Katembula alias JK has just released his long awaited album.

To JK, the album which features Zimbabwean star Oliver Mtukudzi among other local stars, is his spring board to international stardom but the big question is, will the Helena album match the success that Jordan has rode on from the first album?

In an interview with Post news editor, Joe Kaunda, JK talks about the Helena album, his fears, his successes and strengths.

Spotting dreadlocks as his new trendy look, Jordan feels comfortable about his new album which has enjoyed massive airplay on radio station and confidently brags: "This album is taking me places, I am proud of the work I put into the album, its something that everybody has been waiting for."

Jordan says he was initially quite scared that even as he started working on the album he would ask himself; " is it going to be as good as the last one and so it was this fear that gave me a serious 'homework' to put in my very best."

He describes the response as marvellous as the cassettes that we brought in had all been wiped out while a larger consignment of CD was expected in last Friday.

HELENA album

Helena is JK's second album and has so far been received well by the Zambian public. He describes his second album was a definite masterpiece with 14 tracks.

"Mudala, it's the bomb," he says.

Some of the tracks on this album are Abantu Bambi, Sembe una Niuza, Na Mwansa, We Mwana Wane, Elyoni Elyoni, Nkala Kupembela and Ubusuma Bwenu.

Oliver Mtukudzi may well be referred to as the cherry in Helena album on the track Dzokera and JK admits that his appearance was accidental.

"I was at the Kora awards and he was there too. But this is a man who is down to earth, very humble, so I approached him and asked if I could work with him and even gave him the demo of my song and I was fortunate that he liked the song and was ready to work with me," Jordan says.

Other Zambian artists on the album are MC Wabwino, Nasty D, Joe Chibangu and up coming star Exile.

JK describes Helena as something international and mature.

"My aim was to produce something that could be appreciated everywhere, not just in Zambia. That is why there is Shona so that the Zimbabweans can appreciate it, there is also the title track of the album Helena in Swahili which could be listened to and understood by people in East Africa," he says.

He explains that the album has been fused with some salsa kind of beat with a Latino touch.

"It's basically thinking with an international focus, you know sometimes when things don't move well locally a king is not appreciated in his own land so this may well cater for other people," he said.

"The approach is also to widen the market to sell the album even in other countries."

Limelight and fame

What I really respect about myself is the music. It is the music that has made me into what I am today. From the hard work people started appreciating the music. He says some wise older people advised him to humble himself as he lived with his new found fame.

" Sometimes it's just difficult to humble yourself and to bring yourself down to earth, people start saying you are a skit (show-off) and that you don't want to mingle, its really difficult to handle stardom," he says.

He says at the end of the day it was entirely up to an individual artist to conduct himself or herself in a manner that is proper before the fans, especially that there are no chaperons readily available to guide the artists. "So it is very difficult," he emphasis.

On his love life, Jordan chooses to live his life as the adage goes; Behind every successful man, there's a woman.

He says he is in a serious relationship but chooses to keep his partner's name a secret, " at least for now."

"Well, it was difficult initially for my girlfriend to accept that I have a lot of fans and just many people, especially ladies, young and old, wanting to say hi or to take pictures. She would say, 'this is too much for me' but I started proving to her that this was simply show business. I would take her to all my shows just to prove to her that I was just working," Jordan says.

"Now she knows and understands how people get excited at my shows or sometimes when we meet."

He denies the 'ladies man' tag and maintains: "No, there is no truth in that. I am just a friendly person. And as I said I have a lot of fans and I have to be good to them, take time to say hi, it's all my job."

"I also don't know what people mean even when they say I am playful because I only go out when I am with my friends or my girlfriends. And wherever I go, I don't pick up women but they do come in large number to my shows probably to listen to the many love songs that I sing." Music industry

To Jordan, the music industry has gone through some serious transformation over the recent years and promises a great future. He said what has also helped is that the fans and the public had generally accepted the music being churned out by local artists.

He said what remained now was for the artists to give the fans their values worth of work.

"An example is that they (public) gave me all the support on my first album, so I must not disappoint them on this album," Jordan said.

His best moments of stardom, he recalls, were travelling to the United Kingdom where he held some shows at the Miss Zambia UK pageant.

"I enjoyed being treated like royalty. Staying in a five start hotel, being driven around in serious cars like a Bentley which are owned and driven by seriously big stars. That was one of my best moments," Jordan says.

He says while it was exciting to have been offered this treat, fame has never got to his head.

"My other great experience was meeting the stars at the Kora awards, meeting and having dinner with Gerald Levert, Kelly Price, Koffi Olomide and this is where it dawned on me that my dream is definitely to be like them," he says.

"Reaching a point where, when you release an album people don't go to check what it is all about but just buy it because they trust you as a musician and also being appreciated internationally."

While the music industry may start to look promising in Zambia, the sector still faces several challenges that may need state intervention.

Jordan feels that what has hit the Zambian artists adversely is the lack of equipment and worse still the high tax on imported musical instruments.

"If it can be done, and I know it can be done, that government just give the sector a tax holiday for at least a year, as it was done over the buses, we could see the music industry develop," he says.

"There can even be more investors coming into the country."

He says what was also encouraging was the local artists' commitment to their work.

"We are really working, look at Danny, Louie X, Nasty D, MC Wabwino and many others. There is serious competition. It's making every one work. It is basically like a league, people even know that this is premier and this is another league but it keeps us on our toes," Jordan adds.

Born fifth from a businessman and woman in 1978, at Ndola Central Hospital, Jordan studied in Ndola where he had been based until show biz attracted him to Lusaka.

Jordan started embracing music with his peers as early as the age of eight whilst in his fourth grade at school.

"I was always singing (at home, school), always, but I chose to keep it to myself-may be because at the time I was not confident enough to sing to an audience. I enjoyed it."

Jordan stepped onto the show bizz gush in 1997 when he first recorded his demo at The Savoy Hotel in Ndola with a band known as The Ukwa Band.

After huge applauses and credits, Jordan decided to trek to Lusaka for greener pastures where he met one of Zambia's renowned rap artists MC Wabwino at the Heritage Studio. It was at this point that JK was showcased when he featured on MC Wabwino's popular album Yamene Yamene.

"In 1999, I felt it was time to move on and create music and this prompted me to team up with a very good friend, Kelvin Mwesa and together formed a group called New Age and I became the lead vocalist. Initially, our intentions as New Age was to produce a gospel album but then we conscripted our sound engineer and producer Sebastian Mutale and decided to change the whole gospel concept to something more secular instead. We released two albums; our well renowned debut Biyoyo and Chikokoshi, which did very well too," Jordan says.

JK's voice also features on Shatel's debut album Chikondi on the hit song Naitopela that has dominated music charts in the country.

In December 2001, JK released a self titled album that shot him to stardom. The album was released under the Mondo Music Corporation label.

This album totally flipped the Zambian music industry and was one of the highest selling albums in a very long time.

The hit album has a melodious mix of 12 great hits.

The tracks are sung in Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga and Lozi languages. The topics of the album range from love to AIDS including praises to the Lord. Songs on the album are Nkafikilisha, Balekuze-mbeleka, Ka Gelo, Kasilimu, Lesa Eka and Bana Malama, just to mention a few.

Jordan became a household name upon release of his debut self - titled album.

From his debut album JK secured a Kora Award nomination in 2002, for best Male artist alongside Oliver Mtukudzi and South Africa's Mandoza. Last December, JK was nominated for yet another award, the Ngoma award which he managed to scoop.

The sky is the limit for Jordan Katembula. Not only does he have the talent but he is also a serious hard working young man.

"God gave me this talent and the least I can do for him is to utilise it in the best way possible. That is why in each of my albums I have dedicated a song to my Lord. I feel blessed and I truly appreciate all the support I have received from the Zambian people both at home and abroad. God Bless," says Jordan.

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