Gospel in music: Last Saturday, the fourth edition of the Victoria Gospel Academy (VIGA) Awards took place at Imperial Royal Hotel and several gospel artistes walked away with accolades for a job well done in 2015. Isaac Ssejjombwe looked at some of the major winners of the prestigious awards and what the future holds for them.
Female Artiste of the Year
With seven awards so far, including best collabo with Iryn Namubiru in the Diva Awards, best song in Olive Awards and best Gospel song in Hipipo awards, Julie Mutesasira is more than confident that her career is sky rocketing this year.
“This year is going to be better by the grace of God. I have begun the year with the song Essala ye Kiro, which is rapidly picking up.”
The artiste thinks that songs like Saba, List Yamukama and Sikyadayo made her beat off competition from artistes such as Judith Babirye, Joy Tendo and others to the crown of best female artiste in the VIGA awards.
“The awards are going high each time they are held and they are the only reputable gospel awards we have in the country so we really appreciate the good work and effort put in towards rewarding us.”
The singer added that all artistes she was nominated with were her competition because they all have tremendous talents.
Born in 1978 to Rose Namubiru Lutwama and the late Henry Ssebatta, Julie Mutesasira is the eldest of three children, two sisters and a brother.
The gospel artiste laid the foundation for her career at an early age of five at St Matia Mulumba Church in Old Kampala.
Male Artiste of the Year
Born Sam Lukas Lugolobyo, Levixone is the first born of 10 children but the only one who does not share a father with his nine siblings. He grew up with his mother and stepfather in Kosovo, Lungujja, a Kampala suburb. He attended St Joseph Mapeera Primary School in Kisubi from P.1 to P.5, but dropped out when his step father refused to pay his school fees.
However, as luck would have it, the now famous artiste was aided by a man from Ireland called Neil Fox, who offered to pay his school fees from Primary Six to Senior Four. He later ran away from home and met artistes Ticki Tah, Crystal Fabulous and Mac Elvis who played a major role in his career as a musician.
It is precisely the struggles he went through while growing up that made him known for his philanthropic ways. The singer embarked on a drive to give the people of Kosovo scholastic materials and food every year.
Levixone has quite a number of songs, including Passport, Noonya Omu, Niwewe, Kangende Noono, Hope, Edoboozi, Shuga with Daisy Ejang and Samanya, one of his latest, among others.
It is some of these songs that have seen him nominated in several awards and winning some, but for the artiste, the Viga Male Artiste of the Year award last weekend is one of his best.
“I felt blessed because it was my second nomination in the Viga Awards. Last year, I was nominated in five categories, including Male artiste but my brother Exodus won it, while I took the best RnB artiste. I did not complain though, because my time had yet come and I’m so grateful that God has enabled me win it this year,” Levixone said.
When asked who his biggest competition was in this specific category, the artiste said he did not have any because all artistes in the gospel fraternity are considered family.
His plans for 2016?
“This year, I’m doubling my efforts and also concentrating more on my charity works towards Kosovo as well as my gospel event, ‘The Reggae Worship’ concert.
Best Acapella Group & Social Media Artiste of the Year
Five talented young men with amazing vocals that redefine acappella music with incredible talent! The Canaan Gents is a gospel Acappella vocal band which began at Uganda Christian University in 2011 during their first year at campus with Samuel Lubwama (baritone, soprano and vocal saxophonist). He is also the vision bearer of the group. He came up with the name Canaan Gents after checking for its meaning, which is promised land, in the Bible.
After finding a name, Samuel embarked on finding singers, which he did with time.
“After finding a name, my next goal was to find singers. So one day as I was coming from a lecture, I heard a choir sing and deep inside me, I knew they were the right guys I was looking for. I went and met Andrew and Samuel Marc Tugume, who plays the Alto and Bass. I told them about by initiative and they gladly embraced it, so we started singing in different places during holidays.”
He adds that they felt they needed more people to make the group complete, especially people who are good with instruments and that is when their friend connected them to Charles Ssentongo, a tenor, Alto and lead beat boxer. Then in came Charles, a bass guitar guy after passing the auditions and finally, Isaac Kawuki who plays the Bass & Bass guitar. The group is also blessed with another lyricist, Cathy Mirembe, who also acts as the music director.
“We sing at weddings, corporate dinners, end-of-year parties, birthday, graduation, baptism and confirmation parties, among others. We are also planning to sing at funerals because we have sung at one so far,” said Charles.
The group said it was very humbling to know that the Canaan generation (fans) love and support them genuinely. He also said through fronting Christ, you can surely go far.
But VIGA are not the only awards the group has won, as they pride themselves for having won several Guild Orombi Awards back in the day at the Uganda Christian University.
“We’re planning on releasing more music (original songs) because we have so far released two songs, Sing and Azaalidwa. So this year, we are putting more focus in composing songs and probably an album launch in the near future,” said Samuel Lubwama.
LIST OF WINNERS
Virtuous Woman – New Testament
Robin San – Simple life
Brian Lubega – Asaanide
Kadongo kamu Category
Kaggwa Edward Frances – Enyambala
Coopy Bly – Nkulembeera Mukama
Afropop/Beat; Kwaito category
Irene Kayondo – Asinga
Rachel Namubiru – Teri Akwenkana
Diaspora song /artist
Techno/House and Rock category
Holy Keane – Love Love
Video Producer Category
Enock – Cloud media
Audio Producer Category
Worship/praise song category
Justine Nabbosa – Oli Katonda
Inspirational song category
Judith Babirye – Sitarudi
Video of the year
CoopyBly – What a love
Elgon song category
Stephen Adhogomola – Oli munene
Exemplary theme category (commendable non-gospel positive message songs)
Betty Nakibuuka – Mama
Special entity song/artist (for ‘secular’ artist with the best gospel song)
Lyto Boss ft Solome Mirembe – Omwetaaga
Social media song/artist (for best promoted and marketed on social media)
Dangelo Busuulwa & Judith Babirye – Waliwo ensonga
Male artist of the year
Female artist of the year
Song of the year
Wilson Bugembe – Daala