The revellers, some from as far afield as Canada, Australia, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa turned up for the September 22-23 event, turning the music festival into a regional tourism hub.
Stanbic Chief Executive Charles Mudiwa said: “We see ourselves promoting tourism because suddenly the Stanbic Music Festival is a tourist attraction. Over and above providing music and entertainment and celebrating our culture, we are also promoting tourism as people from other countries come to attend these events. To the public, keep supporting Stanbic. We thank you for believing in our dream.”
Before Boyz II Men took to the stage on both days, the crowds were wowed by a fine selection of local musicians who all lived up to their billing. On the first day, Afro soul singer Wezi, traditional folk singer Mumba Yachi, and hip-hop sensation Chef 187 gave their all, much to the amusement of the crowds that sang along to some of their popular numbers.
On the second night, gospel sensation Abel Chungu Musuka, contemporary Zambian RnB singer K’millian, and singer-cum-guitarist James Sakala, were also equal to the task and gave the throngs an unforgettable experience.
On both days, electric violinist Caitlin DeVille blew away the hearts of many revellers who cheered throughout her performances that came just before Boyz II Men’s.
The US RnB legends themselves fulfilled the pledge they had made the day they arrived, of an explosive Stanbic Music Festival, as they took their mesmerized fans on a trip down memory lane with their popular 1990s tracks that catapulted them to stardom.
The crowds sang on top of their voices when the group performed their clear favourite tracks “One Sweet Day”, “Mama”, “Water Runs Dry”, “I’ll make love to you”, as well as their 1992 single “End of the road” which reached the top of charts worldwide and stayed at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for thirteen weeks, breaking the decades-old record held by Elvis Presley.
A member of Boyz II Men, Nathan Morris, could not help it but put down his microphone once to use his phone to record the crowd singing along to “One Sweet Day”, one of their most popular tracks they collaborated with Mariah Carey, which, for 25 years, still holds the all-time record at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. His video then went viral on social media.
Of course, the group had a mix of both old and new tracks with some of their performances drawn from their recent albums “Collide” and “Twenty” but they were too careful not to give the public a sneak peek of their forthcoming album “Under the streetlight”, which goes on sale in October 2017.
Shawn Stockman, one of the group’s two tenors, said in an interview after the concert: “We had a fantastic experience. To know that people far away from home still love our music over the last 26 years is amazing. We can’t wait to come back. It’s been a great experience. Next time we’ll be able to see the Victoria Falls and be tourists but this was a great introduction.”
Nathan Morris added: “Zambia was great. They were loud; they sang to every song. We almost put down our mics and let them sing everything. It was good, and we’ll be back for sure.”
He then summed up the trip with his Instagram post shortly afterwards: “September 19th marked 26 years of doing what we do. When doing it for so long u can tend to get jaded…but when you leave the continent to perform, and 26 years later people are still singing you music at the top of their lungs you remember what it’s all about. It is and has never been about you…it’s not all about you. I thank God for using us to musically spread the message of love around the world! Thank you, Zambia.”
Stanbic Chief Executive Charles Mudiwa said the 2017 Stanbic Music Festival was the best the bank had ever organised.
“It is the best by far that we’ve had so far. It was exciting and well-organised; it was bigger and better, and it just demonstrates the true value of what Stanbic is all about: Zambia is our home, we drive her growth,” he said.
“We do such events because they represent our culture. As Africans, music is our culture. We sing when whether we are happy or unhappy. As Stanbic we have to support the core of our culture, which is music.”