Daniel James Kachamba was born in Limbe, Blantyre District, Malawi, in 1947. He was born in a musical family. His father, James Kachamba, was a guitarist of the earliest period of popular township music in what was then Nyasaland, during the late 1940s, after he had returned as a World War II veteran from Burma. Daniel’s mother, Etinala B. Gwede, was also musically inclined, having played the nkangala (mouth bow). His life-long partner and the second pillar in his early kwela-style band of the 1960s was his young brother Donald Kachamba, born 1953, who himself has become a musician/composer of international renown.
Exposed to the popular music of the time in Malawi, saba-saba, sinjonjo, vula matambo, jive, and kwela music, Kachamba’s guitar style varied from alternate bass line thumbpicking with index finger doing the melody à la country blues stylings of Mississippi John Hurt, to rumba bass patterns underneath syncopated melodic lines (also thumb and index) to condense the sounds of Congolese rumba on to one guitar.
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