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Tony Rich, Masaka’s finest hitmaker

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Rewarding the best: Hussein Mutanda, aka Tony Rich, recorded his first song after selling his father’s bicycle. Today, he is a big thing in Masaka and he spoke to Brian Mugenyi about his journey and cancer fight.

What inspired the name Tony Rich?
It was inspired by American artiste, Antonio Jeffires Jr, better known as Tony Rich Project, whose songs I adored. His best known for the song Nobody knows, a hit single in 1996.

What kind of music do you do?
I am a contemporary RnB singer. I am also a song writer and I have composed songs for several artistes.

Your name suggests you have money…
Matter of fact is I set my ambitions too high. I may not be rich as such but I am struggling hard to get there. I believe one day I will attain the wealth I desire.

Tell us about your education background?
I attended my primary education in Zambia, when I came back to Uganda, I joined Bombo Senior Secondary School for my O-Level before taking up regular music for eight years.

When did your passion for music start?
The desire to do music is rooted inside me. As a child I used to sing the late Elly Wamala’s songs on my way to the well. With time I opened up to my mother, who did not take me seriously.

What is your biggest challenge as a musician?
Music is too costly these days and requires sacrifice. It has been a problem to me as an upcoming artiste. There are also many hypocrites in our industry.

How did your parents react to your passion for music?
My Mother supported me materially and financially, unlike my father who was extremely against it, to the extent that he once talked me into becoming a teacher. I turned his advice down to stick to my dream.

What differentiates you from other musicians?
I am a God-fearing person; I pray every morning before doing anything. I thank God for responding to my prayers, He has elevated me to heights I never saw myself at. Who am I that several artistes seek counsel from?

Tell us about your first time on stage
I was nervous, but luckily fans never chased me off stage.

Your craziest moment in life…
It was the time we hosted karaoke performers in Bisanje Trading Centre, Masaka. I took my father’s bicycle without permission and when I returned, he gave me two options; leave his house or get his corporal punishments. I stubbornly chose to go away with his bicycle, which I rode to my sister`s home in Kampala. I later sold the bicycle at Shs70,000 and used the money to record my first song.

Which people supported you?
Muteesasira Ssenono (Sejjo Auto-parts) whom I have maintained as a manager to date and my brother Yasin Ssentongo.

What do you think of Uganda’s music industry?
It is moving fast, a clear manifestation is the BET Award Eddy Kenzo recently won.

What are some of your compositions?
From January to December by Omulangira Ssuuna, Yoono by Maama Uganda, Nasiimagwe by Doctor Propa, among others.

Why hasn’t your music been popular?
The problem is I had no manager and promoters until 2011 when Ronald K Promoters took me up. I think this will be a big boost for me.

Any awards?
I was only awarded with a Hi-pipo music certificate in 2013.

What do you have in store for your fans this year?
I am working with David Lutalo and Ziza Bafana on a song titled Zivuga Ziti. The other song is Cancer; many Ugandans have been glued on fighting HIV/Aids, with little concentration on cancer, which has proved to be even more dangerous.

Who are your best local artistes?
I adore Jose Chameleone and Juliana Kanyomozi. These guys are so creative and do their music with passion. But I would also wish to make compositions with Irene Namubiru and Zambia’s Mampi, of the Swilili fame.

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