Meet the Malawi Mouse Boys. When they are not hunting down mice to make kebabs and sell to passing motorists along the dusty roads of a rural Malawi town, this gospel band pull out guitars and put on a show for right about anyone who’d listen.
It was how they were discovered, two years ago, by American Grammy Award-winning producer Ian Brennan.
They have, since meeting Brennan, gained some popularity and several videos of their performances can be seen on YouTube.
Brennan said he had been in Malawi to discover hidden talent, but had endured a fruitless search for two weeks when he finally stumbled upon the Malawi Mouse Boys.
He recalls the moment as one that will “stay with me forever”. He’d asked a young man named Alfred, who he saw along a dusty two-lane highway strumming on an old guitar, to play him a song.
“The sun was going down and a group of around 20 children, ranging from toddlers to teenagers, had gathered around. Alfred was so shy, the song was nearly inaudible. But when he hit the chorus, all of the kids joined in — it was true surround sound.
“I realized that I had stumbled on a micro hit, isolated on this one corner of this one stretch of road,” Brennan told CNN’s Inside Africa.
Under Brennan’s guidance, the Malawi Mouse Boys produced that “micro hit”, an album titled “He is #1″.
It is a collection of 14 gospel songs, written by the Malawi Mouse Boys and recorded outdoors in two days using Brennan’s portable studio.
Brennan had to deal with a lot of firsts during his recording with the Malawi Mouse Boys, putting up with tiny spiders in his hard drive, sound interruptions from local children and street animals, and the like.
But it was a series of firsts for the Malawi Mouse Boys too, who up until the moment they recorded the music with Brennan, had never performed using a microphone.
The Malawi Mouse Boys, a gospel band of childhood friends, live in a tiny village near Balaka town. There is no electricity in this village where they grew up and now live.
They are completely self taught and have long created uplifting music using their four-string guitars and other make-shift instruments.
Brennan says “He is #1″ is the first album in the Chichewa tongue, to be released internationally, a fact the producer describes as unjust.
In July, the Malawi Mouse Boys gave their first performance outside of Malawi at the Womad Festival in the UK (WATCH PERFORMANCE BELOW).
Brennan described their first time on an international stage as “remarkable”.