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Meet Jamal’s music manager

Nisha during the interview. For now, she is content managing Jamal only and is therefore not planning to take on another artiste.  Photo by Abubaker Lubowa.

Nisha Bridget Ampurira, 25, is certainly one of the few female managers in Uganda’s music industry today. She has been managing Jamal for close to six years. Emmy Omongin spoke to her about working with Jamal and generally about the music industry.

What’s your music background, did you ever have a passion for music?
While at campus, I used to work with Media Mogul, an outdoor advertising company in 2008. They also partnered with former Sway Club. So we used to party every evening after work. Amidst partying, I hang around and socialised with so many artistes including Jamal. Once in a while I used to get him gigs.

For example, there was this one gig I got from Jinja SS (I studied there). They called asking me to get them an artiste to perform at a school function. My first recommendation was Jamal, who they liked, I contacted him and we went together for that show.

From then we became friends, we hang out together more often and eventually became close. Since then, he put me in charge of all his bookings, accounting and general management, a job I gladly took up.

When did you officially sign Jamal?
We officially signed a contract in 2010 after getting to know each other down to the personal traits.

At first we had just agreed by word of mouth but hadn’t put our agreement on paper. We both felt we needed to make it professional so we decided to document it.

Our contract is open in that I cannot fire Jamal and he cannot fire me. We’re practically meant to work for each other forever.

Are there any other artistes you manage apart from Jamal?
Previously, I was managing three artistes at the same time: Jamal, Exodus and Leila Kayondo. Exodus joined my management in 2011 and Leila last year. But I am now managing Jamal only.

How did you meet Leila Kayondo and Exodus?
They both looked for me, I managed them for one year but eventually felt it was a lot of work pushing all the three artistes to the forefront at the same time. I just decided to concentrate on Jamal since we were so tight.

Were your parents fine with you taking this career path?
My dad passed on so it has always been about my mother. She has been so supportive and has always been behind my back. She inspires me because of her hard work. I look up to her.

What is your work as a manager?
I do almost everything for the artiste apart from sex of course. I brand him, I do the PR, I handle money issues, pay for his audio and video production and also book and schedule shows for him.

Do you have an influence on what Jamal sings about (women)?
No. Jamal relates to women, he understands what women go through so he decided to brand himself as a musician for the women but I have nothing to do with influencing him to sing about women.

So who pays the other?
Practically it’s Jamal who pays me even if I do the transactions. I’m entitled to a certain percentage (which I cannot disclose) whenever he has a gig.

What is your normal day like?
I’m always up by 7am even if I sleep at 5am. During the day, I hold business meetings with clients, booking shows and doing the negotiations. At night, I have to monitor my work by going to several clubs to make sure my musician’s songs are played. I barely sleep.

Are you seeing anyone?
Yes I am. I won’t disclose his names because he doesn’t want our love life to be exposed.

Could that lucky guy be Jamal?
Come on! If I was dating him I would have had his children by now. I have been with him for six years. He’s always with his white girls and I don’t have a problem with that. If I had feelings for him I wouldn’t let him hang with those white girls. We’re keeping our work professional, no emotions.

Have you ever had disagreements or misunderstandings with him?
We’re always open to each other, I tell him what I don’t like and he does the same. But there was a day I had booked a show for him and he had a football match at the same time. We disagreed but thank God he’s a listening guy. He sacrificed the match to go and perform.

Money wise we have never had any misunderstandings because Jamal is not money minded, he can even take a week without asking me for payments for the previous gig.

What is it like to work with Jamal?
He is understanding, professional and respects me. I like that fact that he respects his clients and he’s also fun working with. I find him a genuine person.

Are there any artistes who have tried to contact you to manage them?
Yes. Julius Kyazze, the owner of Swangz Avenue once called me, he wanted me to manage the late Serah but I just couldn’t abandon Jamal.

What are some of the challenges that you face as a female manager?
I have so many stalkers. Some think I earn a lot of money so they come with an aim of getting money from me. Others think that because I am in this business (entertainment), anyone can sleep with me.

I have learnt to read their intentions from the first conversation I hold with them. I must say I have grown into an intelligent woman.

There are also clients who want to sleep with me before they give me a gig that involves large sums of money but I keep it professional, it’s strictly business nothing more than that. There are also some clients who take me for granted because I am small and short, some refuse to complete payments when my artiste finishes performing.

Besides talent management, what else does Ampurira do?
This is my full time job. I make a living out of it, nothing else. Talent management feeds me and pays my bills too.

What have you achieved from talent management?
I have achieved a lot; I have bought a plot of land from Jomayi on Seguku hill where I plan to build my own residential home very soon.

If it wasn’t Jamal, which artiste would you be managing?
It would either be Coco Finger, Mun G or Keko. They are my friends I know them in and out so it would be so easy to work with them.

Does it mean you can’t manage someone who’s not your friend?
It’s not possible. It is so hard to deal with an artiste who is not your close friend. That is why it took me two years to officially sign Jamal. I had to learn him in and out that is why we work perfectly.

Apart from Jamal, who do you think is the best Ugandan musician of all time?
I think Afrigo Band does it for me. I like their music. Moses Matovu is my favourite. I just love the way he sings.

When is Jamal’s next concert?
It was supposed to be on November 22 this year, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, we decided to push it to March 8 (Women’s’ Day) next year.

Between Bebe Cool and Radio and Weasal who do you think is going to win the battle of champions?
Bebe Cool plus Radio and Weasel are my good friends, they’re so talented and I think Uganda is going to get the best performance this year from these artistes. I won’t pick sides so let’s just wait for December 6 to see who takes it all.

Tit bits
I love… adventure, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and of course Jamal’s music.

I hate… people who call me young.

The tattoo on my hand… comprises two birds kissing. It simply means these birds are in love but people perceive it wrongly. They think whoever has a tattoo is “spoilt” but truth is, I am not “spolit”.

My favourite food… is rice and peas.

Food I would never eat even if I was paid is… Mukene(silver fish) and posho. I can’t imagine having that meal!

The genre of music do I hate is… The copy and paste music, where people just make renditions of popular songs, because there is no lyrical content.

If I was not a talent manager… I would be working in human resource somewhere.

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