Erik Paliani (born 6 September 1975) is a Malawian guitarist, producer, and songwriter. He is best known for his work with singer Zamajobe Sithole, trumpeter Hugh Masekela, and guitarist Lee Ritenour.

Paliani was born in Blantyre, Malawi. He began his musical training as a child under the guidance of his father, Richard Howard Paliani, a magistrate by profession, but an avid guitar player as well. As a young boy and still attending Primary School at Saint Kizito Primary School (1980-1989) Erik Paliani was already a member of two of his father's band Concepts, the Jess Connection and Paliani Progression. During this period Paliani toyed around the ukulele, Keyboards and Bass guitar. In 1992 he graduated from Phwezi Secondary School in Rumphi, Malawi and went on to complete his tertiary education at Harare Polytechnic in Harare, Zimbabwe. Shortly after returning to Malawi he joined the Afro-fusion group Acacias Band (not to be confused with the similarly-named British band Acacia). The band achieved substantial notoriety throughout Malawi and recorded two successful albums. Paliani credits his tenure with the Acacias Band for providing the foundation for his success internationally. Other notable solo artists to come out of this band include Ben Mankhamba (Ben Michael) and Chris Kele.

During the latter half of 1998 and continuing into 1999, Paliani began traveling to Johannesburg, South Africa for musical engagements, and by the year 2000 he had permanently relocated there. While establishing himself in the Johannesburg music scene he joined the band of Reverend Benjamin Dube. It was during this time that he met singer Zamajobe Sithole a member of Reverend Dube's choir.

Paliani played a key role as guitarist and producer on Zamajobe's 2004 debut album Ndawo Yami (Sony BMG Music Entertainment/Giant Steps) for which he was nominated a SAMA award in the category Best Joint Composition. In 2006 Paliani appeared in the film Catch a Fire playing the role of a jazz guitarist. That same year he recorded on three tracks for Lee Ritenour's album Smoke 'n' Mirrors (Peak Records).

Beginning in 2008 he produced several album including iSiGiDiMi for Xhosa guitarist Mavo Solomon, Zamajobe's second album Ndoni Yamanzi, and then in 2009 Hugh Masekela's album Phola. In 2010, he released his first solo album entitled Chitukutuku which also earned him critical acclaim including another SAMA nomination.

Published on 18 Oct 2019 / in Afro Beats


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