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Levixone: His music is a testimony

Levixone once lived on the streets after he left home to escape a harsh step father.  PHOTOS BY DOMINIC BUKENYACoincidence: He started performing at gospel gatherings to make some money for himself as a street child, but a chance meeting with gospel stars changed his life, Lawrence Ogwal writes.

Briefly tell us about yourself?
My name is Sam Lukas Lugolobyo, but my stage name is Levixone. I am 21 years old and I am a second year student at ECO University in Nairobi, studying music. I am a gospel artiste who loves God and singing so much. I am the first born of 10 children, but it is only me who doesn’t share a father with my nine siblings. I grew up with my mother and step father in the slums of Kosovo in Lungujja.

And your father?
I only realised much later that  my father wasn’t my real father. I found this out during my S.4.  I was at Mulago Hospital looking after my grandfather (my step father’s dad).
While at the hospital, I received a strange phone call. The man told me his name but didn’t tell me how I was related to him. He told me to ask my mother. When I asked her, she didn’t want to tell me but later told me that the person who had called me was actually my real father. She didn’t know his whereabouts though.

Where did you attend school?
I went to St Joseph Mapeera Primary School in Kisubi from P.1 to P.5, but my step father refused to continue paying my school fees, so I dropped out of school for one year. During that time, I only used to play football with my friends. One day, I came back home late after playing football and my step father threatened to beat me, so I ran away from home. For four days, I used to sleep under a pool table in Lungujja.

Did you then go back home after the four days?
I didn’t go back home. I decided to look for somewhere that I could get money. I remembered that in Mengo, at a place known as Kifuddu, there used to be big gospel artistes performing. Since I knew that born again people liked giving money to people who are performing on stage, I went straight to the MC and told him I wanted to perform. I didn’t have any recorded song and at the same time I didn’t know what I was going to do on stage, but I just wanted money. When he asked me to give him a sample of what I was going to perform, being creative, I did something and he was amused.
He  introduced me on stage but I couldn’t recall what I sampled for him since it had been a free style. I sang another song which I created right on stage. People were very happy and gave me a lot of money, it was more than I expected though I didn’t count to see how much it was.

Did the performance change your life?
Yes, people liked what I did though I was just 13 years. Ever since childhood, I had always wanted to sing and that was a great opportunity for me.

When was the first time you went to studio?
Actually, it was in 2006 after performing at the concert in Mengo. I was walking down from stage, when Tickie Tah and Crystal Fabolous who were performing next told me to wait for them back stage. Since they were celebrities, I was so happy because I knew they were going to give me more money since I had performed well.
After their performance, they told me to carry for them some ply wood to Lungujja. I pretended I didn’t know Lungujja because I didn’t want to carry their stuff, but they insisted. We went to Crystal Revolution Studio where they were taking the ply wood to renovate the studio. When I asked for my payment for carrying the ply wood, they instead started questioning why I was very dirty and why I left home and was staying on the streets. I explained everything to them and they told me to start staying at the studio with a gentleman who used to stay there.

Had you gotten the name Levixon?
At that time, I was just a boxer and I used to go by the name of Renox. After staying at the studio for one week, Mark Elvis (R.I.P), a gospel artiste and producer returned from his Kigali trip and I started staying with him at the studio. I used to clean the studio and I did everything that he asked me to do. He became like a brother to me, he was also still a student at Old Kampala Secondary School.
Crystal Fabulous, the owner of the studio told Mark Elvis to help produce some music for me. Since we had gotten along very well, he agreed. We used to have a lot of free time to ourselves, so he helped me produce many songs like Jangu Eno Twetale, Tumusinze and Usinipite, which I did with Crystal Fabulous. From then on, I would accompnay them to concerts to back them up.

How did your music perform?
The only song that received airplay was Usinipite. It used to be played on Sanyu FM. Other radio stations that I took it to told me it was substandard and they couldn’t play it.

So you started doing music and didn’t go back to school …
Since I was a good football player, a school in Lungujja known as Treasured Kids Primary School called me to play for them in the inter-primary football competitions. I disguised myself as a student from that school. There were many Whites who attended the sports gala  and they liked how I played football. They had spent three days at the school, so they asked the school coach how come they had not been seeing me around. The coach told them the truth that I wasn’t studying there and that I was homeless.  A man from Ireland called Mr Neil Fox offered to pay my school fees.
I joined P.6. After primary level, Mr Fox paid for my O-Level but I didn’t immediately continue to S.5 because I had no one to pay my fees.

Did you continue singing while you studied?
Yes, I would always escape from school to back up Crystal Fabulous and Mark Elvis during their concerts.

What did you decide to do after S.4?
I had all the time in the world to do music. By then Mark Elvis had moved to a studio called E2E in Kawempe. He produced my songs like Nonya Omu and Kiroto with Coopy Bly.
Early last year, I got a call from Steve Jean of Fenon Records. I was surprised, when he told me that Nonya Omu was a good song but the production was bad and he wanted to help me re-do it. He handed me over to a producer known as Legend P and we re-did the song. After one month, they then helped me shoot the video.

How did Mark Elvis feel when you went ahead to re-do the song?
He was very fine with it, he actually told me that the latest version was much better than the one he had done. It got airplay on many channels including BBC and also featured on many websites both in Uganda and abroad. It got me nominated in various awards like the Club Music Video Awards. It also had me travelling allover East Africa to perform it.

Do you have any other songs receiving massive airplay?
I have a new album called Connections. It has 18 songs but Jungle and Passport are the ones that are receiving massive airplay.  On the album, I have songs with artistes like Mun G and Cindy from Uganda and I am also working with other East African artistes.

What else do you do besides singing?
I am also a song writer and I have written songs for Jackie Chandiru and Iryn Namubiru, though they are yet to be released.

What inspires you to do music?
The situations that I passed through all my life is where I derive my lyrics – I give testimonies in my songs.

What challenges do you face in music?
I basically face financial challenges because I don’t have a manager at the moment.

Do you perform in bars?
If I am invited, I do so. I performed at the Club Music video Awards. I also do music with secular artistes though I can’t do secular music.

How have you benefited in music?
Having grown up without a family, I have met a new gospel family; these are the gospel artistes that I have worked with. I have also managed to pay my own tuition fees and I also pay for two of my siblings.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see myself everywhere, when I say everywhere I mean all over the world. I want to perform to everyone and let my music make them give their lives to Christ.

On his Reggae Worship concert

Tell us about your concert on Sunday?
The concert is called Reggae in Worship Concert. It is an annual concert which i started last year at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, I always hold it on the same date, which is April 27 every year.

Where did you get the idea to hold an annual concert?
I got the idea in Nairobi where I had gone to perform, early last year. During my performance, I saw people crying because of the testimony in my songs. After the show, a fan came straight to me and told me that I am a worshipper. A week later, when I returned to Uganda, my Pastor at church also told me the same thing. I went back home and thought about it, I wanted to hold a concert known as Worship Night but Pastor Bugembe holds a similar night. Since I am a Reggae artiste, I decided to call it Reggae In  Worship Concert.

Do you organise it yourself?
Yes, I handle everything alone and use my own money. I had planned for the concert to always be at Sheraton but it is under renovation so I had to move it to Kati Kati. The next concerts will be at Sheraton.

Who paid for the billboard that advertises your show at Ntinda?
Pastor Janan Manzi who owns some of the billboards  in town offered me one free of charge. This was because of an incident that happened last year. He organised a show and after performing, I thought he didn’t have a lot of money, so I just left after the performance and I  didn’t ask for money from him. He was so touched, so he did that just to return the favour.

What should people expect on the show?
At an entrance fee of just Shs20,000, there will be no VIP or ordinary section. Everybody will be given the same treatment. Fans should expect performances by all Ugandan gospel artistes.

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