Jun 142024
witch chaka khan

Seizing opportunities when they arise has been a key feature of WITCH for over 50 years. Those opportunities have sometimes been few and far between. So an invite to mark Chaka Khan’s enshrinement to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was one which they could not turn down. Their version of “Ain’t Nobody” is now on wide release as the band tours the US and Europe, on the festival circuit and under their own name.

Various iterations of the Zambian-led band have embraced the music of the times as it moved them. The original iteration of the outfit, who added charismatic frontman Emmanuel “Jagari” Chanda to an accomplished group of instrumentalists, gave a local flavour to the music of their idols such as Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Chanda picked up his nickname due to the charisma he shared with the frontman of the Stones. Throughout the ’70s, they were stars locally and well-respected worldwide. In the ’80s, they went with the flow of disco when current member Patrick Mwondela joined. Subsequent years saw upheaval, and tragedy, as the Zambian music scene buckled under economic pressures and those who had lived the rockstar lifestyle, and many others, succumbed to AIDS, leaving only Chanda and Mwondela. Chanda was making his way outside of music until a Searching For Sugarman type documentary, We Intend to Cause Havoc, reminded the world of his genius. He and Mwondela were able to assemble a new band to take their music back on the road and get back into the recording studio for the first time in decades.

Once the disco beat is established on their new Chaka Khan cover, Theresa Ng’ambi and Hanna Tembo lead with joint vocals. The familiar musical refrains from the original are present, and the pace is at the same sweaty middle-of-the-night tempo that we are familiar with. With Mwondela looping his keyboards throughout and Chanda acting as MC the two lead vocalists share the duties on a joyous celebration of a successful renaissance.

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