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Cindy: Musical mummy

Cindy, her husband Mario and their daughter Amani. Photo by Isaac Ssejjombwe.

When she was booted from Blu*3, many thought her music career had come to an end, but Cindy showed that she could fly solo, and it was only a matter of time before the other girls took to solo careers, Isaac Ssejjombwe spoke to the singer who is revelling in the joys of motherhood.

You’ve been quiet for some time. What have you been up to?
I can’t say I have been quiet, but after becoming a mother, I realised that I had to create a bond between me and my daughter. Life has really changed because unlike before when I had five to six music gigs a week, I reduced them to three, which means hefty charges (laughs). I also reduced my studio time.

What are your charges now?
It depends on the event and venue, but my going rate starts at Shs1m upto Shs10m.

How is life as a mother?
I still haven’t gotten a definition but it’s a beautiful experience. There is still a lot to be done because Amani is my first child but I’m doing everything I can to adjust to life as a mother. I mean the waking up at night to take care of her when she cries, knowing when she’s hungry and so on.

How are you able to juggle the three, motherhood, being in a relationship and an artiste at the same time?
It’s not easy but I plan everything pretty well. Mario is an understanding husband who is always there at all costs. My mother is also there to provide some help where necessary when it comes to Amaani. I want my daughter to see me as a role model and a good mother.

Did you just call Mario your husband. It seems we missed the wedding. Are you two really married?
Yes, we had a traditional wedding last year. It was a private kwanjula ceremony.

Your husband (Mario), is he one of the jealous types who restricts your movements? And how does he cope with attention from your male fans and your closeness with male artistes you have duets with?
Like I said, he’s very understanding. At first he was so jealous but after seven years of being together, he got used to the fact that I must have male fans as an artiste and working with other artistes is a key aspect in the music industry. He normally says he trusts me and not them. Whatever that means.

Is your latest single Amateeka, where you tell your husband not to restrict your movements directed towards him?
Of course not. I have a family member who is going through that same situation. Her husband restricts her movements and overprotects her all the time, which is a mistake most men do. You have to let a woman have her freedom sometime.

Cindy, now that you’ve tasted success as a solo artiste, do you think the Blu*3 re-union will be a successful project?
Yes. I believe its going to be a successful project since all of us have tasted success as solo artistes. And going by the fact that our breakthrough came around at the same time, we practically know each other in and out and we also know our limits. I partly owe my success to Blu*3 fans because they’ve always been there through the good and bad times. Blu*3 had become a family to me and it’s in the same group that I made a name for myself. We got nominations in various awards all over Africa. The only challenge is finding time to work on the joint projects, basing on the fact that we are now solo artistes.

Can you tell us more about the re-union project?
Well, it was initiated by Steve Jean after he found out that we are on talking terms with the girls and because he is the founder member of the Blu*3, he sat us down and explained the re-union and said it was a good idea for us to do something after years of separation. We are soon releasing the first single as the original Blu*3 again.

How did it feel getting expelled from a group that had become a family?
It was the most disappointing thing to ever have happened to me. It felt as though I had just lent them my voice and time. I deserved better because I got dismissed at a time I needed the girls the most. I didn’t make any decisions in the group and they indicated that they could do without me.

Do you think Mya was your perfect replacement in Blu*3?
To be frank, no, because she doesn’t have the voice to sustain my part. She has the attitude and appearance. There can only be one Cindy but I totally understood because I would have done exactly the same if I was in her position.

We’ve noticed there is a sudden change in the production of your songs especially some of the recent tracks’ being produced by J.O.B. Did you fall out with Washington who had produced most of your previous songs?
I have no problem with Washington only that he gave my style to other artistes. Every artiste wanted to do music like mine, music that involves kicks, snares and hard beats. When they saw that it works, they all ran to Washington and he gave them my style. If you can notice, some musicians have the same beats like mine in their songs, but that wouldn’t stop me from working with him simply because he’s one of the best producers in East Africa. I just took a break to work with other producers as well.

What do you look at when writing your songs?
A lot but my main aspect is the message and also the beat has to be powerful because I like it when my songs get everyone on the dancefloor.

You’ve established yourself as a dancehall artiste. What other genres can you do besides dancehall?
I’m proud to say I’m versatile. My songs have a different touch from other artiste’s songs. I did contemporary in Nawewe, and then Kidandali (Ugandan style) in Ayokya Yokya and One and Only and more are still coming up.

Are you involved in any other projects besides music?
I’m practicing fashion designing at Kyaligonza Fashions and I’m also the acting Chairperson Young Talent Uganda a Non Government Organisation that promotes talent.

Tell us about some of the challenges you are facing as both a mother and an artiste?
Being a female artiste in Uganda alone is a challenge because everyone thinks you are vulnerable. They think you are there to be used. They never take us serious. People always think we are in the music industry by mistake yet most of us are there to make a legacy.

As a mother, I have a lot to do to be a role model to my daughter. Being an artiste, we are subjected to bad stories in the media so I have to create a good image towards her and when she grows up, I have a lot of questions to answer.

In the music industry, some artistes have dreadlocks as their trademark yet others are noticed by the way they dress. What is your trademark and why?
My smile is what I consider my trademark, because that is one thing I can never change. I can change the way I dress, I can change my hairstyle but never the smile.

In this competitive industry, many artistes hold concerts after just one hit but you’ve not held any single concert after a series of hits. What’s your strategy?
Well, I had planned to have my maiden concert last June, but that was the same time Jennifer Musisi (KCCA Executive Director) passed a law saying concerts should end before midnight yet I was planning to go till morning but I’m thinking of having a concert after Independence.

Won’t Jennifer Musisi’s law affect you then?
It won’t because I’m planning to have it indoors.

Name some of the Ugandan artistes you would love to work with?
Bobi Wine, Mowzey Radio and Weasel plus Margla.

Why those specific artistes?
Radio and Weasel are multi-talented. They are some of the artistes whose every song sounds nice and they are also nice song writers. Bobi Wine is a good businessman whose vision has enabled him to become one of the richest artistes in a small period of time. I like Magla’s energy.

Who is your favourite Ugandan artiste?
Ummm let me see. They keep changing g all the time but lately, it’s Maurice Kirya. He has such a smooth voice and his album is the only one I’ve ever bought not because I couldn’t get it free of charge but because I felt I had to buy it.

Last remarks to all your fans?
Thank you all for the support you’ve shown me through good and bad and please plant a tree to save our nation’s environment.

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