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Afrie: Girl with a special kind of sound

Afrie says her dream is a United Africa and she hopes that her music can bring that change.
PHOTO BY Isaac Ssejjombwe

STEPPING OUT: When her cousin taught her how to play the keyboard at a tender age, Afrie should have known that he was laying a foundation for her music career. The dental technology graduate shares her music story and what drives her music.

Briefly tell us who Afrie is.
People call me an Afro fusion artiste or a neo-soul artiste but I am just a musician who released her first official song titled Yodi Yodi in 2015. I also have other songs such as Askari and Let Her Know among others.

Where did the name Afrie come from?
It comes from fire. I just concocted the letters. You can pull out some letters from fire to make Afrie but my birth name is Ann Nassanga of the Njovu clan.

Why did you join the music industry?
It also surprised me but all I can say is that something really annoyed me and in the process, I started singing. It was my only way to cope with the situation.

What was that thing?
Some bad stuff that I can’t say in the media. Bad stuff that I’m afraid some people might see as small and judge me.

Does this mean you had never sung before?
No I hadn’t. My only involvement in this field was backing up artistes when they needed extra voices.

You do a style of music that is not common to Ugandans.
I am basically fronting me. I am doing what I am comfortable doing. With intelligence, team work and creativity, you can find a way to really make it relevant. And besides that, the audience is there. They might not be the majority but they are there.

How old are you?
I am 22 years old.

Which events have you performed at?
I have performed at festivals, especially Blankets and Wine, Pearl Rhythm, Bayimba, Milege, Laba, Qwela Junction, Akadobe, and I had a show in March.

How do you think you are different from the rest of the artistes?
I think everyone’s personality is different just like our fingerprints. I am trying to figure out my brand, which kind of artiste I am. But I play the piano, I sing and talk a lot. Also, before recording a song, I first perform it several times to see how people perceive it, then make the necessary changes if need be.

Isn’t that time wasting?
It is not, because I like to be in control. As a writer, I need my songs to develop before I record them and what brings development is playing it more. It’s then that you find out what is missing, what to add, what temple it should be in and other things.

What would happen if the audience doesn’t like the song?
Then I would know what to add for people to love it. That is why you find some artistes hating some of their songs because they did not make changes at the right time.

Four years in the game. Do you feel like you have grown in any way?
I started out with no particular direction for my music but now I know. My performances were not that good in the beginning but I have greatly improved, so have my keyboard skills and song writing.

Why are you doing music?
I am using music as a tool to fulfill my vision. God has given me the talent and it is being made easier. Besides that, I want to also leave a legacy.

Bits about Afrie and the plans…

EDUCATION
I went to Kampala Parents School, Gayaza High School and Makerere University where I just completed a course in Dental Technology. I graduated in February this year.
The course I studied is very practical. I may not directly be involved in practicing it but I recently set up a clinic somewhere to find a way to use the knowledge I attained.

LEARNING THE PIANO
I had a cousin who taught me the basics while I was in Primary Four, so when I finished my Senior Six, I took it upon myself to learn more. When I mastered it, I realised that singing alone does not count. It is then that I bought a keyboard..

VISION
My vision as an artiste is one Africa. I dream of a United Africa. I don’t know how we are going to achieve it but the factors that really bring about unity are love and freedom. That is why most of my songs are related to these issues.

CHALLENGES
Changing from a hobby to a full time career has been a challenge for me. The financial aspect has also stretched me a bit. Everything needs money.

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