Some express their reservations behind his back, while others are so impatient that they express it in his presence. But 19-year-old John Benito says he has not given up on his dream to become one of Malawi’s best keyboardists as he continues to mesmerise music lovers with his wizardly on the keys.
Those who were part of the crowd that descended on Mankhokwe (or Chileka Airport) ground to be part of the Chileka Memorial Show on Saturday will bear witness that there were no blemishes in the teenager’s act when he backed Young Generation Band and Jupiter Band.
The Chilimba-based keyboardist delivered a perfect act despite playing the keyboard for musicians and music groups he did not rehearse with, a development that was clear when one of Young Generation’s members, Jangisi Khan, exclaimed as the equipment was being tested: “Hey, the boy is too small. He will not manage!”
But Benito did not abandon ship, and went on to deliver a masterful performance- to the bewilderment of Khan and others present.
“A lot of people belittle me when they see me for the first time, but I have become used to that. I have learned to just go on with my job, and let my performance speak for me,” Benito says.
The third-born in a family of six traces his interest in the keyboard to 2009, when he joined Hope of Glory Church. This is the church that has shaped the Chitheka Family.
“The church gave us a chance to learn music equipment including the keyboard. I opted for the keyboard and, slowly, started mastering it,” Benito says.
Using that knowledge, the teenager later started working with the Blantyre-based Jamison Salvation Band.
He has also manned the keyboard during McFilly’s performances at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.
“But these are not the only ones I have worked with. I play with Jupiter Band and other groupings that require my services, and are ready to take my music career to the next level,” Benito says.
Benito, who wants to study Business Accounting, sat for Malawi School Certificate of Education examinations at Ndirande Hill Secondary School in 2013.
He says he was inspired into music by Grecium Mukwena of Impact Band, whom he regards as a “master of music equipment”.
He parries aside the notion that there is no money in the local music industry, saying what is needed is the production of quality music and everything will fall into place.
Where does he want to be in 10 year’s time?
“I want to establish my own music grouping, and help young people achieve their goals in music,” Benito says.
But, asked about his ambitions in education, Benito says he wants to concentrate on music for the time being.
Born on April 10th, 1994, the up-coming keyboardist hails from Mgabu Village in the area of Traditional Authority Thawalawe in Nsanje. He is the only one interested in music in his family.