By Grant Moyo
Multi-instrumentalist Raymond Millagre Langa, affectionately known as Millagre, will drop a 31-track music anthology titled Escaping Shackles of the Ancient on Africa Day.
The musician, who is a former member of Afro-jazz band, Ditswi the Voice, says the release of his project aligns with his deep advocacy role and storytelling mode enmeshed in the synergy and depth of Africanism.
Describing himself as an open-minded artiste who sings about everything, he draws inspiration from the daily spiritual, social, political and economic realities faced by human beings.
Millagre is a vibrant musician and spoken word artiste, who was born and raised in Bulawayo. Despite his main area of musical focus being instrumentation, songwriting and arrangement, he has over the years worked on his vocals.
He holds an Honours Degree in Development Studies from Lupane State University, and is the founder of the Indebo Edutainment Project, an arts hub which focuses on using creative activities as tools for development.
With a professional career dating back to 2011, being a key member of local bands Ditswi the Voice and Ethnic Feeling, afforded him with opportunities to perform at the Fete de la Musique (World Music Day) celebrations in Bulawayo organised by Alliance Francaise.
To date, Millagre has two albums under his belt, namely Soulful (2015) with Ditswi the Voice, and Rooted (2018) from the Ethnic Feeling project.
“The musical inspiration came from the moment when I was 17 years old when I began to learn how to play the guitar and keyboard. My first demo was a self-recorded session at home with my uncle, which motivated me to venture more into music. I have been working with different artistes and bands ever 2011. I have grown over the years, I am now a multi-instrumentalist who plays drums, guitar, marimba, mbira, pan pipe, recorder and percussion,” Millagre said.
“As a self-taught artiste, music has been more of an innate talent within me which is characterised by the passion for expression that emanates from the inspiration of varied phenomena which occur in my surroundings. For me, the art of music is more of a message-based approach which is actualised through the writing of good lyrics that have meaning to society and contribute to its growth.
“It is of great importance to note that these lyrics should be accompanied by a good instrumental arrangement.”
Acknowledging the extent to which his experience working with bands has contributed to his solo career, Millagre said besides learning about the importance of team work and knowing the concept of collaboration, bands taught him humility, love and respect.
He admitted that his stints performing at local clubs, hotels and music festivals enhanced his instruments playing skills.
On the verge of releasing his project which embodies his feel and sound engraved in the harmonics, spoken word and instrumentation, the multi-instrumentalist pointed out that the genre of his music relates to Afro-fusion, folk music and ethnic music.
It is a unique raw sound that denotes him as a musician and an artiste derived from the depth of his musical experiments.
Having worked with music producer Prosper Siyamdumisa Ndlovu, Millagre noted that besides being predominantly on the digital side programming drums and bass lines using software programs, Ndlovu was also involved in the engineering and mastering of sound. Escaping Shackles of the Ancient is a music anthology which tells the untold stories of the Afrocentric soul who has been faced by many challenges subjecting the African child to poverty and suffering.
In as much as African history has been diluted by Eurocentrism which has ruined the African culture, the project entails that the history of Africa never begins from slavery, for Africa was already civilised, but the colonisation and the shackles of the mind have disempowered black men and women, entangling the continent into an inferiority complex.
“This is inclusive of the colonial replacement ideology that painted bleak the essence and value of African culture with the blackening of everything bad, yet slavery and colonisation were hideous acts of abomination.
‘Black’ we have been called in the likeness of the blemish, but African and deeply engraved in spirituality we remain.
“The escape is from the shackles of incapacitating and dependant modes of the many African states off the fictional aid which has even aggravated the poverty and corruptibility levels.
This has even led to the underdevelopment of Africa. In essence, Africa is twisted deeply in terms of resources base when it comes to minerals, without really looking at the level of academic literacy the continent has,” he said.
“I remain in the pride of my African identity and the mysticism unto which it is tangled, I am never afraid to live that. It is why I sing in different languages and my vocal styles are raw and full of harmonics as well as crazy chants and voices. The essence of African music is in the imperfection which brings the blend. It is an inner hidden truth of our music on which we as Africans have mastery of. The soul is the secret to the music as it scintillates the emotion, so in the anthology you will be taken on a journey. Not only do I tell the story of an Afrocentric soul in a new reality marauded by a virus (Covid-19), I also speak a language of hope hidden in the masked reality that has made us more open minded.”
While music is an inspiration goaded by the drive for expression, it requires patience and passion. Questioning conformism, Millagre seeks to change the boxed thinking that perpetuates underdevelopment in Africa.
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