‘The 13th Beijing International Film Festival was a historical moment;’ Maxwell Chiungwe
From Chinhoyi to China, Zimbabwe’s multi-award-winning international artist, Maxwell Chiungwe has been flying his home country’s flag high in China through his music.
In an exclusive conversation with My Afrika Mag reporter Tapiwa Rubaya (TR), Maxwell Chiungwe (MC) took us back to seven years ago when he arrived in China. He tells us how he managed to establish his name in the music industry in a foreign country.
In addition, during our conversation with him, he tells us what it meant performing at the 13th Beijing International film festival.
TR: Can you briefly introduce yourself to our audience?
MC: I am Dr Maxwell Chiungwe (PhD in Business Management), musician and company Director. As a musician, I am known as Maxwell C. I’m from Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe and I have been residing in Beijing for 7 years. I’m a father who also has a lovely 5-year-old son named Maxwell Junior Rukudzo Chiungwe.
TR. What does music mean to you?
MC: Music is an inseparable part of my life. I see music as God’s way of unveiling His blessings upon my life. I say this because God has used my musical gift to open amazing doors that I never imagined as I grew up in Chinhoyi. Music means everything to me, a life without music definitely is an incomplete one for me.
TR: Since you left Zimbabwe how has your music career changed?
MC: Leaving Zimbabwe was a golden chance for me to be positioned strategically in a place where I would fully explore my potential, be accepted, learn, grow, and be honored. I saw all that happening to me in the past 7 years I have been in China. Progress has to be a part of life and I have seen the positive change in my music career. I have been exposed to a lot of great opportunities and have worked with great people. I have also been on big projects and events and I have worked with big companies. I am grateful every single day.
TR: How did you manage to have your music to be accepted in China?
MC: When time and opportunity meet and you are not prepared you will miss the blessing because you didn’t prepare enough. I invested so much time, learning and refining my musical gift from the time I was in Chinhoyi when there was no opportunity for me yet or an offer to motivate me to practice but I was disciplined to consistently practice and build a character that would help me work well with other people in future.
Passion and Faith were my greatest drives, I didn’t stop this until I started getting opportunities. When I came to China I was already a musician who knew what he was good at so I wasn’t confused about discovering myself, or what music genre I was supposed to pursue, so I knew my strength. I presented myself as I naturally was, a soul singer and that is what I gave out to the people and they opened a space for me in the music market. They accepted me that way all they said is they could feel me every time I performed. I didn’t want to go with the flow also, I mean not doing what every musician was doing. I kept myself unique, I didn’t change myself I knew that would somehow make me competitive . Having a business mindset beyond just being a performer is a trait that has also helped me grow as a musician in China.
I have worked with so many people in China and one influential person I won’t forget is my brother King Joshua from America. We worked together as a band for a long-time, we grew and got established in the music industry as performers. Above all, when God is in it, dreams can be realized. I have always put God first, allowed Him to lead me besides me being talented.
TR: Maxwell you have been honored with awards for your work in China, can you list for us some of the awards you were awarded and what they mean to you?
MC: Yes I have been honoured with Awards including:
2019.Silk Road Competition Best Male Singer Award
2019.Silk Road Competition;1st runner Music Award.
2020.Pride of Africa Asia Pacific Awards Outstanding Achievement in Music Award.
These awards mean everything to me. They inspire me a lot and they say to me that it doesn’t matter where you come from, if you work hard consistently at your craft (whatever you do), the world will see your light when you are presented with an opportunity and you will make an impact, motivate and inspire other too.
TR: You recently performed at the 13th Beijing International film festival.
MC: Yes I performed at the Beijing International Film Festival. A very big event in China equivalent to the Oscars.
TR: How did you manage to be part of the performing artists?
MC: They wanted musicians so I sent in my material and I was picked amongst other musicians.
TR: Why was your performance special and the best act ever in your career?
MC: I performed with one of the very well-known Japanese Brazilian’s Biggest artists, star Ono Lisa. She is known as the Bossanova Queen. I played in her band. It was an honor for me to be picked to perform with such a big musician. What also made it special is I got to perform for big international celebrities movie stars like Jackie Chan who graced the awards.
TR: Aside from Bass Guitar which other instruments do you play?
MC: The acoustic guitar is my main instrument. I play electric guitar, bass guitar, piano,, and a bit of drums.
TR: What is your latest project?
MC: My latest project is a song called “Why Oh Why” that I did with my brother LMC, Lameck Chanda who is in South Africa. It’s on AL online music platforms, it’s a very beautiful song that talks about working as a couple to fix their love that isn’t as beautiful as it was in the beginning, now characterized by a lot of fights, ignoring, and hurting each other. Every relationship goes through such phases but the song encourages couples to work on their love like a job, find ways to get back to the beginning where they prioritized, and love each other deeply.
I took a break from releasing music when my wife passed away in 2021.
Why Oh Why was my last release then, I’m hoping to get back in the A’sstudio and start recording the music I have been writing.
TR: Lastly what word of advice do you have for other artists who are planning to perform internationally, especially in China?
MC: My advice to other artists who want to perform internationally, especially in China is for them to continuously invest in time for learning and rehearsing so that their craft is refined and ready for any international platform.
The best is to work on being the best version of yourself, discover yourself, know what you are good at, and refine it go through fire like gold is refined and that means having a hectic rehearsal schedule, rehearsing for long hours, and getting used to the stage. Helping other musicians have access to international platforms availed here, is also something that I would like to pursue.