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April 22, 2015 by Robb Powell

umoza projectWhilst sitting besides Lake Malawi on a return visit to his birthplace, accomplished UK musician John Tobin was listening to an instrumental piece of music he had written and recorded on his phone. John was in thought of whether he could find anyone who could put words to his resonating composition.

In search of such a lyricist, word of mouth led him to Max Jere, a musician, singer and songwriter who also stated he owned a studio in a most uncanny and unlikely area near Senga Bay. Much to John’s delight (and very much the conception of what was to follow) Max presented John with his studio.

John Tobin states:

Umoza was unlike any other studio I’d been to, but Max got a great sound. And he was seriously talented, as a writer, singer, producer and entrepeneur. And he was a great human being. To be honest I was more impressed – and surprised – by his studio than any other I’ve seen and it’s still my favourite recording studio in the world.

From that first encounter in 2010 the “Umoza Project” was born! Multiple visits to Malawi followed for many years to come and the project grew in to a thriving cross culture/cross genre organism that has capured hearts and minds of so many on an international scale.

SaneWhile with our brothers in Malawi it occured to us that the difference in cost of living between Malawi (one of the poorest countries in the world) and the western world was so great that a relatively small amount of money in the UK goes a long way in Malawi. An idea was born to finish our recordings as good as they could be back in the UK to create a new fusion sound and then use the music to raise awareness of these talented guys and maybe even create a small royalty income for them (remember, a little goes a long way in Malawi).

Max’s dream is to build a new studio. He’s bought the plot of land – 100 yards from the beach at Lake Malawi – and it would be great if this music, created through collaboration between Malawian and UK based musicians, gives him a path towards achieving that dream and making a living from music.

And so it is a privilege that Hertfordshire’s John Tobin allows #‎Bluesfromtheherts‬ to share in his creation with Max Jere, Olly McDermott and so many other musicians. So much inspiring hard work has gone into this project from so many and its most humble of beginnings. From an instrumental recording on a phone, Umoza Studios in Malawi, to Flook Studios in Herts and finally lovingly mastered at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London by Sean Magee.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this joyous, life-changing experience it’s that the things that we have in common with each other far outweigh the ways in which we’re different.” Quote by John Tobin

Website at

Words by James Kirby –

blues from the herts


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