She rides in the zone of being among the very few females who play musical instruments in the country. She is one woman who can challenge male drummers pound for pound, playing the drum alongside the percussion. Not an easy feat, this one.
And that is the enchanting tale of one Beatrice Kamwendo, sister to gospel songstress Ethel Kamwendo Banda.
It is a sad fact that the country lags behind in the number of female instrumentalists and despite many of them dominating in the gospel music industry, the trend still remains that many of them are there just as vocalists.
But with Beatrice, the country can boast of having that rare female talent which is, arguably, in the same league as that of Ivory Coast's Dobet Gnahore who once performed at French Cultural Centre in Blantyre a couple of years ago.
For her singular flair, last year Beatrice received praise from German female artists Vli Meinholz and Sita Conrad who performed at Blantyre Arts Festival and they thus drafted her into their duo during one of their performances at the festival.
"She is talented and we thought we should bring her in and perform together as sisters and I have seen that she learns fast," said Meinholz who also conducted a drumming workshop then.
Beatrice the artist
Born on December 11, 1966, Beatrice ekes a living out of music, playing the drums, percussion, dancing and offering backing vocals.
"I have been in music for long. I love playing the instruments and I am happy that I have even graduated into a vocalist," she says.
She started playing music when she was nine years old, performing with her brothers and sisters under the banner of Kamwendo Brothers Band before Ethel joined them.
"In those days, as Kamwendo Brothers,we were being hired to perform at political party functions as such we were always on the move and by that time I had already started playing the traditional drums," she says.
But what motivated Beatrice to develop interest in music instruments which are largely shunned by many female
"I grew up with my brothers who were playing instruments. Initially, I tried several instruments, including the guitar which was basically the banjo at that time but I finally settled for the drums," she says.
She had been with Kamwendo Brothers Band for some time where she also used to be a dancer before she moved on to Ravers Band and she remained there even after Ethel left to start a new life in gospel music.
"I am no longer involved with Ravers, at the moment I am performing with Ben Mankhamba and my sister Ethel," she says.
From drums to percussions
For some time Beatrice only played drums but after she started playing with Ben Mankhamba, she added the percussion which she was taught by the 'Kambaanga Mwala,' star.
The percussionist says though she performs with Mankhamba, she would now be involved in gospel music and currently she backs Ethel and that she intends to release her own album.
"I am working with Mankhamba because he has taught me a lot in music; I have been to big festivals because of him and so I will continue performing with him. However, I will also be involved with gospel music," says Beatrice.
It has not been that easy for her to be where she is as she has had to fight challenges with some people calling her all sorts of names.
"It has been difficult for me in this industry. Actually, I have had to close my ears because some people used to call me prostitute but I knew what I wanted in life," she says.
And the whole situation was compounded when her marriage broke down and that since then she has never remarried.
"After my marriage ended, a lot was said, including that I wanted to pursue prostitution, but here I am making my bread and butter through playing instruments," she proudly says.
The role model Musicians Association of Malawi (Mam) president, reverend Chimwemwe Mhango, admits that the country has few female instrumentalists and hails those who have battled on, citing Beatrice as one of the notable ones.
"We hope to use her as a role model in the area of playing instruments.
The problem we have is poor background and perception coupled with lack of ambition and encouragement.
Culture has also played a role.
"Poor background means there are no role models. The thinking has been that music instruments are for boys and not girls. Again people think that to make a name one must be a vocalist so the ambition for instruments
vanishes," says Mhango.
He adds that culturally there are also beliefs that some issues are for females and others for males and that on the ground there has been nothing happening as a motivator.
Many women musicians might shy away from playing instruments but, at least, for now, the country takes solace in the fact that there is one in Beatrice Kamwendo who appears quite determined to soldier on.