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From church choir to gospel artist


Simon Jackson records music for gospel singers free of charge. PHOTO by Simon Peter Emwamu

Humble start: He was very shy and had no idea the talent he has, but after joining the church choir at university, Simon Jackson now lives to tell a different story. SIMON PETER EMWAMU writes.
When Simon Jackson Okiror’s father died in 1990, his life came to a serious low; shifting from a life of plenty in the affluent suburbs of Kampala to absolute misery in the rural Serere District. As a child, he was affected and it impacted on his self-esteem.
It took him long to recover, his turning point only coming at university when he joined the university church choir. At Nzamizi Training Institute of Social Development is where Okiror began to forget his childhood memories, realised his musical talent, and most of all, overcame his shyness.
Among the many choir members, Okiror, popularly known as Simon Jackson, says he emerged the best singer and composer which saw him elected chairperson.
According to the 32-year-old, although he commanded respect among his choir members, he wasn’t sure about being the person many people now treasure for his life changing and inspiring country gospel music.
“Majority of my former schoolmates don’t believe that the shy boy they knew is now a gospel artiste,” he says.
His passion for gospel music is beyond a mere hobby, neither for self-glorification, to Simon Jackson his joy in music is praising and glorifying God.
“He has brought me this far under a single mother, how and why would I refuse to praise him?”
Simon Jackson also plays the guitar, piano, abilities that earned him the 2008 Victoria Music Award for his first album ‘So Lonely’.
His musical career, which spans from 2007, has seen several local civil society organisations in the region hire him to compose songs for good governance and health advocacy. This has earned him an award as an advocate for social change in 2013 from a commemoration of national and local NGOS that converged at Serena in 2013.
The Development Studies graduate runs his own private music label, Canaan Studios, that has since 2009 produced his music and for other local artistes.
As a way to give back to society, Simon Jackson has also started a venture to nurture talent through quarterly auditions, where he guides local talent to record their gospel music at no charge.
“The church helped me discover my talent so I would like to be remembered for helping others discover their hidden talent to serve God’s work,” he added.
The happily single, soft-spoken artiste, dreams of owning a band that will one day traverse the country to entertain people. “Music should be played naturally to bring out its beauty. The mode we have today kills its beauty and doesn’t aspire to inspire others,” he says.
“I wonder if these were the days of the Biblical kings, then King Saul wouldn’t have had an entertainer in the name of David, who later succeeded him as king of Israel because everything is computerised,” he said.
With the comfort he has found in his passion, Simon Jackson is shelving any plans for job search.


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