Namibia’s Popular Accapella Group — Vocal Motion Six (VM6)

We feature Vocal Motion Six — Describing Vocal Motion Six (VMSIX) is nearly impossible.  The acappella Christian group from Namibia creates what can only be described as an intoxicating brew of gospel, jazz, R&B and pop.  To give you an indication of just how amazing the singers are, they have won a dozen national and international awards and performed around the globe.

The vocalists took time out of their busy touring schedule to talk to us about their new album, how they got their start and what they are doing to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS.

Vocal Motion Six

From the left: Mark M. Chizyuka, Peter M. Chizyuka, Lilani Kistings, Jones M. Mario and Vasco M. Mario

How did VMSIX start?
It started when my brother Peter and I (Mark) graduated from high school and left Zambia.  We moved to the Kavango Region of north eastern Namibia to join the rest of our family.  When we arrived, we sang with our family in church one day, creating much excitement!  We met another musical family, the Marios, and we started singing together.  Soon, we were in high demand, performing in school assemblies and choral music festivals throughout the Kavango Region.

In 1999, we auditioned for the National Music Makers Competition and were chosen as one of the thirty-seven finalists.  We traveled to the capital, Windhoek, and there, in a televised broadcast, we won two awards for Best Vocal Group and First Place overall Artist of the Year.  That gave us the opportunity to record our first album.  At the time, we called ourselves Breath of Truth, but in 2000, after we relocated to Windhoek, we changed our name to Vocal Motion Six (VMSIX).

You didn’t always have a woman in the group.  Why the change?
Lilani joined the group in 2012.  We were in a period of transition.  One member left the group to pursue other interests and we thought it wouldn’t kill to try out a woman.  That’s how it all began.  At the same time, we were looking for a female artist to feature in one of the songs at the Classical CD Launch and Miss Lilani came at just the right time!

You’ve traveled all over the world.  Tell us some of the places where you’ve performed
We have performed in SADC (Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia) and internationally in Germany, Finland, Estonia, China and the United States.  We sing in English, Afrikaans and other Namibian local languages as well as foreign languages like Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.  Right now, we’re learning songs in Finnish and Chinese.

You are more than just entertainers.  Your goal is to produce “music with a message,” inspire youth and bring about positive change, and you’re doing that with “Living Positive.”  Tell us about it
We created Living Positive as a platform to give back to our community and inspire our youth to make good choices as a preventative tool in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Namibia.  In 2007 we joined forces with a young woman who is living with the virus, and traveled to 11 of the then 13 regions in Namibia. As she told her story, we sang and spoke to over 85,000 youth in schools, prisons and mines.  PEPFAR, the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, in partnership with the Namibian American Cultural Center, sponsored us.

You just released your third commercial album, “Ekundungu” (Storm Wind).  Tell us about it and where people can go to purchase it
You will experience us like you’ve never done before! We’ve got a lot of fresh influences shining through in the music, but everything you love about VMSIX will still be there. We did the vocals ourselves at Prodigy Wave Productions in Walvis Bay, Namibia. Then we sent the files to Los Angeles, California to producer Corey Slutsky of Voices Only to edit the project.  Corey edited with the acclaimed Jeff Eames for Eames Music, Colin Egan and Marianne Cheng of Five Spice Records. Danny Ozment of Emerald City Productions mixed the music, giving it an updated edge without losing our essence. This helped us create something that was new and exciting while still in the line of our heritage –acappella music.

This album is very organic and has all Christian songs.  You can buy it online at iTunes, AmazonRhaposdy and other digital music websites

What advice you have for people who aspire to be in the entertainment industry?
Success does not come over night.  It’s something you work hard for. Just like any other business, it requires time, dedication, discipline, passion and perseverance. You have to love what you do and give it your all or just don’t do it.

Where can people go to find out more about you and find out when you’ll be performing in their area?
All you have to do is follow us on Twitter @VocalMotionSix, like us on Facebook and visit our website www.vmsix.com

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Now let’s get personal….
Who is the quietest in the group? Jones is quiet most of the time, especially when we are on stage.
Who is the most outgoing? The most outgoing is the youngest of the group and only female, Lilani, she enjoys having fun.
Musical inspiration? The group is mostly inspired by Rajaton and Ensable from Finland, Take 6, Vocal Union, and Il Divo.
Favorite movie? (Mark) Lord of the Rings & Fast and Furious.
Best way to unwind? I like to spend time with my best friend and wife, Isabel over a movie or just a weekend out. We just love nature.
Favorite city in the world? For me (Mark), it’s Tarlin in Estonia, very historical and nice people.
If you had a million dollars? If I had a million dollars, I would first finish building a home for my mom, then invest some money. I would give the rest to our favorite orphanage and travel the world.
One person you would like to meet? (Mark) I would like to meet MR David Forester, he is just amazing, genius!

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Rae Oglesby is a freelance multimedia journalist and the Founder + Chief Storyteller at Oglesby Communications Consulting. She can be reached at rae@oglesbyconsulting.com