Joanna Amaru won the Best Female and Best Newcomer accolades in Friday’s Club Music Video Awards. Emmy Omongin, talked to the New York based artiste.
Congratulations? How did you feel when you got news that you had garnered 2 CMVAs for the categories, Best Female Video of the Year and Best New Comer? Did you think you would win amidst tight competition from well known artistes as compared to you?
The six nominations for me, were the actual victory! I was not expecting that, and it was a true honour and very humbling for me! It said a lot to me as an artiste, that I was doing something right, and pushed me to even work harder. The wins were just the icing on the cake.
Ever since you got all those CMVAs nominations, people have been asking who Amaru is. Tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in the precious Arua town, to Stephen Kasamba and Patience Alidri, a wonderful God-fearing and the best family I could have possibly asked for.
Fathered by a music lecturer, I grew up mainly in Makerere University employees’ accommodation, and attended kindergarten at the university nursery school at the Faculty of Education on campus. I later attended, Buganda Road Primary School, before moving to City Parents’ School (which I thought then was the fanciest school in the world because we ate chips for lunch on Tuesdays). I later attended Seroma Christian High School, before moving to Rainbow International School in Kampala, and finally graduated High School at Hillcrest International School in Nairobi. I later moved to New York City where I attained my Associates Degree in Acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I am currently in my third year as a film and TV major at St John’s University in Queens Campus, New York.
How is the winning of the two CMVAs going to help in the advancement of your career?
The fact that my country voted for my video as their Best Female Video and Newcomer of the Year tells me I’m off to a great start, and further reinforces my responsibility to continue to put even more of my heart and soul into the music I produce. I believe that as long as an artiste is working hard to create art that comes from the heart and is based on truth, the future can only be bright!
Briefly describe for us your musical journey…
For as far back as I can remember, my father and other members of my family have been involved in music ministry. As a child, we often went to different schools and churches, sharing the Love of Christ with the people around us through songs and dancing. This was my introduction to music, a very passionate way of connecting with God, and reaching people around me with His love. The influence this has had on me has been the conviction that the gift comes with a responsibility so much greater than awards, fame and recognition. To me, it is the responsibility to communicate truth and ultimately share the unchanging love of God.
What is your target crowd (who do you sing for?)
I target everyone that has a soul, and can relate to the experiences of encountering love and losing it, anyone that can relate to the sentiments of the human soul, and its relationship with a Higher Power.
How do you plan on breaking through the Ugandan music industry?
I plan on doing that by staying true to my roots, and my inspiration. I also want to continue working hard at producing music I believe in.
Where do you draw the inspiration of your music from?
My music is inspired largely by my experiences and the lives of the people I relate with.
Have you ever been nominated in any international awards?
No, I have not yet submitted in, or been nominated for any international awards yet but that is something I definitely look forward to and hope for the future.
What challenges do you face in the music industry?
One of the challenges I experience in the music industry is having limited funds to invest in music production. Good studios are very costly, so with a limited income, it puts boundaries on how much work I can produce at any given time, especially when I don’t want to compromise the quality of my work.
Why are you based in New York?
I am based in New York right now, mostly because I am finishing my Film and TV studies at St John’s University here.
Do produce music for both the Ugandan and the New York Market?
There are no boundaries to what market I produce my music for, so God-willing I look forward to sharing it with more than just Ugandans and Americans, but with everyone in the world that can relate to it.
Are there any collaborations that you’re currently working on, both locally and internationally?
Yeah sure, there are collaborations I am currently looking forward to doing with artistes both nationally, and internationally!
Please tell us some of them …
I do not want to spoil the surprises so that cookie jar will remain unopened for now, but one thing I can say is I am really excited for what lies ahead.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I would like to truly say thank you to the Amaru family and friends, and everyone who is believing in me and listening to my music everyday. All of you who have taken the time to write to me about your experience with my music, and everyone that keeps requesting my songs on the radio – thank you. I love and appreciate you so much!