Basic Folk Podcast: Anjimile

Anjimile Chithambo, who uses his first name on stage, is a genderqueer, black singer/songwriter making his way onto a larger radar with the debut album, Giver Taker. The artist appeared on some high-profile ‘Best of 2020’ lists and picked up two recent Boston Music Awards. Originally from outside of Dallas, Jimi was raised by Malawian parents – father a doctor and mother a computer programmer. His sisters encouraged him to join the choir and taught him harmonies at a young age. The guitar came along around 10 or 12 and soon an infinity with the instrument began, particularly with fingerpicking.

Moving to Boston for music in 2011, he developed a drinking problem that led to entering rehab in 2016. During treatment, Jimi discovered that he was a trans and non-binary person. That realization led to the inspiration for many of the songs on the new record. Particularly the song “The Maker,” which compares a redefinition of gender to one of faith. In talking about the song, he says, “I very much link my queer identity to my spirituality.”

Talking to Jimi was a pleasure and I’m grateful how open he is about his story. In his experience with taking testosterone, he learned that he’d have to forever change the way he takes care of his voice. That rich deep sound that you hear coming out of the young performer, would no longer be taken advantage of. It was also fun to hear Jimi talk about his playful side: “I think I’ve always been a dumbass and once I got sober I was able to use those powers for good.” The music reflects a more serious side that calls to mind Sufjan Stevens, a major inspiration for Jimi, along with the music from Malawi that his parents would play in the house growing up.

Keep your eye on this guy!


‘Giver Taker’available here


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