gospel luminary: Former street kid Exodus rose to stardom as one of the most influential gospel artistes in the region. He meets his number one fan Natasha Ahmed, a Makerere University Public Administration student.
So who is Exodus?
I’m George Timothy Lubega, the second born of three boys, born to a second generation Italian father, Mr Mortage Matovu (half Muganda and half Italian) and my late mother was an Acholi from Gulu.
Describe yourself in five words?
I’m an inspirational gospel artiste, social, simple, calm and down to earth character.
Your videos appear expensive. Who finances them and what has been the most expensive of them all?
My organisation and I do the financing of my videos and the most expensive video I have done so far is Prophesy. It cost $18,000 (Shs45m).
What made it so expensive?
The story board, logistics and location. We had to close down a busy street (Koinange Street) in Kenya for a day to have the shoot. We had to drive deep into Masai land in order to bring out the beauty of the desert. We had to pay the vixens, dancers, a 55-man crew, bookings, fueling the trucks and so on.
Earlier, you mentioned an organisation partly financing your videos. What organisation is this?
Well, I work with one of the biggest charity organisations in Uganda called Irene Gleeson Foundation that takes care of more than 10,000 ex child soldiers in northern Uganda, specifically Kitgum. We give them free education, medication, clothing and safe water. It was founded by my late mother Irene Gleeson (RIP), who adopted me from the streets in 2002.
What role do you play in this organisation?
I’m the international peace ambassador and creative arts officer.
What do you treasure most in life?
The gift of God to humanity. I come from a background where nobody expects anything good about you, starting from family to the people I have grown up with. Having found Christ 13 years ago helped me get self-esteem, fame and a career I never dreamt of.
How far has gospel music taken you?
I have more than 18 awards locally, regionally and internationally. I have several award nominations, shared stages with big local and international stars like Beenie man, Busy Signal, Kirk Franklin, Papa San, Cece Winans and so on. I have been hosted on Daystar TV, the biggest Christian Television station in the US, travelled and been able to raise over $4m for charity.
How many albums do you have so far?
I’m the kind of artiste who takes my time and since I blossomed in 2008, I have so far released one 10-track album Igwe, which I launched at the Kampala Serena Hotel last year and then started working on my second album that has three songs out so far, Prophesy, Happy and a new dancehall track called Born Again.
Are you single?
No I’m not. I got married to a beautiful woman, Brenda Mwanje on July 1, 2011 and I am a proud father to two boys. It seems I will form a soccer team because it seems God is blessing me with only boys so far.
How do you handle mistakes during performances?
As an artiste, you have to be spontaneous. You have to flow with the mistakes so that the fans don’t notice them. Of course mistakes happen.
What influenced you to do music?
While in church, I listened a lot to artistes like Donny McClain, Detrick Harden, and Papa San and at some point I was called The Papa San of Uganda.
How do you balance music and other obligations?
I work out the timings like when I’m in the country, I make sure I drive my son to and from school every single day. Studio sessions come in once in a while. I manage somehow because I have to succeed in everything I do.
I would like to know your education background?
I went to Christ the King Kindergarten, Nakivubo Blue and Good Daddy Primary and dropped out in S3 at Kyambogo College after failing to raise school fees. I hustled my way through my primary education by fetching water, collecting garbage and working on construction sites after my biological mum passed on when I was 10 years old.