Music without borders

It's not every day that you meet a young person who is willing to make sacrifices for his dreams.

This is what Malle (Malvin Mwembe) did when he left his family in Zimbabwe to pursue his music career in South Africa.

“I remember listening to Neyo as a teenager. I would play his music loud and imitate him in his music videos,” he says. “I enjoyed doing this, but I never thought I would actually pursue a career in music.”

He is soft-spoken and somewhat shy, but when he speaks about music his face lights up.

After finishing school in Zimbabwe, Malle thought of studying information technology but his older brother heard him singing and encouraged him to pursue music. Now Malle doesn’t see himself doing anything else.

“Changing the course of my life was a big risk. But the idea of doing what I love for the rest of my life encourages me.”

He left Zimbabwe four years ago hoping to get his big break in the South African music industry.

“I love South Africa. Being in a country which is so diverse is very inspiring creatively.”

In 2011, Malle released his first album, Malleboy. A few months later he released his single, Bhururuka.

Malle uses his home language, Dombe, as well as Xhosa, Zulu and Shona (which he speaks fluently), aiming to appeal to South African and Zimbabwean listeners.

Even so, he has faced some challenges as a Zimbabwean artist trying to make it in South Africa. He’s had a lot of support from his home country, but getting his music broadcast by South African radio stations hasn’t been easy.

“[As] a foreigner, you have to work much harder, especially when it comes to music. Some people will only listen to music which speaks about their culture and in their language. This makes it difficult to convince people to listen to something different.”

More than anything Malle hopes to inspire people with his music.

“When I write music, I motivate myself so I hope that people who listen to it also feel inspired,” he says.

As an R&B artist Malle also sings about love and relationships, but shies away from talking about his love life.

“Many of my love songs are based on what I’ve seen my friends and family experience,” he says with a laugh.

Even though his road is sometimes difficult, Malle doesn’t regret leaving everything he knows for his dream.

“It’s hard. But I believe in myself and my family believes in me. That’s all I need.”

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