Music queen: A concert in Mbarara without Penny Patra will be disappointing for many. The three-time HiPipo viewer’s nominee takes us through her music journey, the challenges and what keeps her moving, writes RAJAB MUKOMBOZI.
Who is Penny Patra?
My real name is Peninah Katwesigye. I am 28 years old, born in Kazo, Kiruhura District.
What inspired you to do music?
I cannot say I was inspired by somebody or a particular situation but all I know is that music is in my blood. Since my childhood and primary school days, music was my passion.
When did you start music?
I was active in music, dance and drama in primary school. But doing music as a career was in 2012 when I composed my first song Mwami Wange.
Was this your breakthrough song?
It was an amateur song, had no video, I did it in a kafunda studio in Mbarara town. My breakthrough song was Nankogu, which I did in 2014. It is this song that got me where I am today. I started getting booked for concerts, wedding parties, and getting business contacts.
Why are most of your songs in Runya-Kitara?
I have to admit that my fanbase is in western Uganda, they have stood with me from when I was nothing to now, so I always have it at heart not to disappoint my fans but that does not mean I do not have fans elsewhere. I have fans in Kampala and also have Luganda songs such as Kyusamu.
What keeps you going?
I do something I love, music is my passion and my fans too. If I do not have a new song, I panic because I do not want to disappoint my fans. When I sit at home, I begin to recall moments when fans yell and welcome me on stage. The testimonies from people that my music has positively impacted them, for example, mending relationships, fighting injustices, love and unity, among others also keep me in high spirits.
What are some of the challenges you face in your career?
Lack of a Copyright Law in Uganda, so you reach the extent of begging radio and TV stations to play your music yet they should be the ones paying you. Another challenge is that people want to use you, especially when you are an upcoming artiste. A tycoon will offer to support you in your career but wants to first sleep with you. Also artistes are associated with immoral behaviour such as prostitution, drug abuse, going under water and many ugly things.
What have you achieved?
I have a good fanbase. Because of music I have mingled with very important people, including politicians and business people. I also have other businesses; a hardware shop and boutique in Kampala.
Who would you say has helped you in your career?
My parents and the media; My parents have encouraged and supported me so much, and the media has promoted me. I do not think I would be known and famous if it was not for the media, radio stations, TVs, papers and social media.
Are you a family woman?
I am a single mother with a three-year-old boy, and I am seeing someone.
My advice to fellow musicians is to have side incomes and investment. Without a Copyright Law and other challenges in the music industry, you will only remain respected as a celebrity. But also in the Uganda of today you cannot survive on one source of income. I also call for unity. There is a lot of beef even here in western Uganda. You release a hit, but instead of showing you support, another musician will instead start fighting you.