Rapper GNL Zamba and American singer Miriam Tamar are in a relationship but they are also a music duo. Lawrence Ogwal spoke to the rapper about the relationship.
How did you meet Miriam?
Miriam lived in Uganda for five years. I met her halfway through her time there, when she got into the music industry and was living in Kampala. The first time we met, we connected instantly and talked for hours.
When you met, was Miriam a singer ?
Miriam has been singing longer than me. She was doing jazz and acapella in high school and university. She stopped singing for a couple of years while she was working in peace education programming in Gulu, and then moved to Kampala to get back into music.
How is it doing music with your girlfriend?
We had done a few singles together back in Uganda. I think the best known is We Cry/Filimu ya Maziga which received an award from the Twaweza Initiative. But Nsimbi is our first album and we did not know what it would be to not only write a full album together, but become a team.
Is Nsimbi the name of the album or the duo that consists of GNL and Miriam?
Nsimbi is a duo and for the start, we decided to name our first album Nsimbi. The duo is into two equal parts GNL Zamba and Miriam Tamar.
Why the name Nsimbi?
It is our last name. She got it from me so we now share it, she is called Miriam Tamar Nsimbi.
There are many genres on the album. How did you choose the styles?
The styles chose us. We individually brought our best to the project. My background is Hip-Hop and that is why folk rhyme and poetry have an inescapable presence on the album. My partner has a background of world beat electronic music. We fused her Western songwriting techniques with mine.
What is special about Miriam as a singer?
Miriam is a talented singer, songwriter and social innovator. Vocally, I love the warm, smooth earthy texture of her voice. She is trained in jazz vocals from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and she brings that to her writing and performance.
Does your relationship restrict you on who to work with?
We hope to collaborate as Nsimbi with other artists, and those decisions would be joint decisions. As GNL Zamba, I make my own creative decisions. I have some exciting collaborations on “The Spear.”
What is the goal of this project?
The goal is to highlight the beauty of human connection and promote cultural diversity not as something to be afraid of but to be celebrated. We want to encourage empathy, encourage people to journey from the norm and experience the world.
GNL at a glance
Who is Zamba?
GNL Zamba was born Ernest Nsimbi 32 years ago and he was one of the first artistes to make Hiphop music popular in Uganda when he started his singing career in 2007. Zamba says GNL stands for Greatness with No Limits. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science at Makerere University. He was born in Mukono but raised in Kawempe.?