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Malawi Performer Aims to Break Glass Ceiling for Women Singers

R&B performer Angela 'Tigris' Mizinga
R&B performer Angela 'Tigris' Mizinga

Angela 'Tigris' Mzinga has popular new album and upcoming Africa tour

In Malawi, the up-and-coming rhythm and blues singer Angela Mizinga – better known as Tigris -- says she’s determined to pursue her career, despite traditional prejudice against women pop stars.

Mizinga launched her professional music career last August with her 12-track album Gimme a Break – a title that aptly describes her ambitions.

“I want to go international. I want to go all over the place. I just don’t want to hear [African-American hip hop artist] Chris Brown in my country, but I want also Chris Brown to listen to my music in the US, and I believe that I am going to make it,” she says.

Men dominate most of Malawi’s pop music, with the exception of singer Wendy Harawa. Generally, the music business is not considered to be a respectable profession for women.

“If anything, you have to be a gospel artist. But not everyone [should have to do that]. People fall in love; they want to listen to [romantic] music. God…brought love into the world and everybody needs to fall in love.”

Mizinga, a former presenter with Capital FM radio in the commercial capital, Blantyre, says she doesn’t mind being labeled a sell-out for singing Western music.

“Let’s face it, not everybody likes what they hear. There are special people for specific types of music…. I do things according to the Now Generation.

“In Malawi, we have Lucius Banda, Black Missionaries, Skefa Chimoto -- all these do pure local Malawian music. [But], there is a younger generation [of fans who often] don’t like [traditional] music. They want to hear something else, so I am doing something that my [generation] will enjoy,” she says.

The 22-year-old musician says she owes her success to her father, who supported her interest in music from the time she was five.

“It’s amazing the way he supports me in this. I have a guitar at home. I have a keyboard….He understands what I love to do. He [and the whole family] support me….”

She says her favorite artists include a number of American artists with wide vocal ranges:

“[I like] Mariah Carey because of the way she [reaches the] high [notes] and Toni, she can go as low as she [wants].”

Mizinga has performed with big artists in Malawi and plans are underway for her first Africa tour.