MUSICAL CHANGES. Ganda Boys, formerly known as the Da Twinz have evolved not just in name but in the style of music as well. Edgar R. Batte looks at how far they have come.
Before 2008, Daniel Sewagudde and Denis Mugagga were known to fans as Da Twinz, Ugandan twin brothers who did music in United Kingdom. Thereafter they became Ganda Boys.
This marked a change in their music journey because from then on they evidently changed their style. Their music was no longer the generic or usual Ugandan sound.
They fused the Ugandan beat differently, giving it a fresh sound all because a new group member came in with unique ideas. He had been there, done that.
Craig Pruess joined the Ganda Boys in 2008. He is a legend in his own right, a multi-instrumentalist, music scorer, arranger and producer who has worked with international stars like Elton John, Sir Cliff Richard, Anu Malik, Sheila Walsh, to mention but a few.
This renowned American-born record producer is composer of the original music score for both of Gurinder’s Chadha’s number one UK box office smash hit films including Bend It Like Beckham.
The three met at a conference table at BBC TV Centre. Pruess was scoring music for a prime time drama called Moses Jones, on which the Da Twinz were lucky to be called on to collaborate.
Pruess was in charge of doing the scores. “I was commissioned to do the story about Ugandan musicians struggling to survive in London. The central part of the story was this band called The Mutilators,” he recalls. That is when he got a chance to hear Da Twinz rehearsing. He was impressed with their vocal abilities. In the duo, he saw unique energy, a good combination, and fascinating performers who were soulful in their music delivery.
He went on to work closely with the duo, as he met them to write songs for live band sequences for the drama. The efforts of the three brains led to a 2010 Bafta Award nomination for Best Original Music score. Ganda Boys had been formed and Pruess to-date has no regrets about meeting two Ugandan boys, who he speaks about in high esteem.
“They also adapted to blues, funk, rock very well. We had a great combination of Uganda and English. Soon their music was nominated for a British Royal Television award for best music,” an enthusiastic Pruess explains.
And you cannot miss the difference, from what you hear in Nafunye nze Omwana, Da Twinz’ 2007 song and what you take in as you listen to One Love, Jinja Road, Forgotten People or Homesickness whose production is better, with stronger lyrical content and maturity as well as unique identity for the four-year-old trio.
The asset and change they got was partly in Pruess who is excited to fuse the Ugandan sound with other music styles, so in Ganda’s music, your ears can fetch fusions of the blues, contemporary soul and a bit of jazz.
The trio that is Sewagudde, Mugagga and Pruess have agreed to share an international vision. “It is an expansion of expression of Ugandan music. We sing about sunshine in Africa, women in Africa, the African values, in a way that will be appreciated by an international audience,” they say.
They have released two albums since their formation in 2008 — The War of Love, a 12-track album, and Africa which is loaded with 15 tracks. They are currently working on another one, which, they say, is half way done.
In the four years Ganda Boys has been places too. They have represented Uganda at the World culture Festival in Berlin, at Alexander Palace, and had the very unique opportunity to perform at the Houses of parliament which brings together all England’s parliaments, in Westminster. They have also performed in South Africa and Beijing, among other international cities and towns.
Tonight, they are performing at Kampala Serena Hotel, in celebration of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s birthday. They say the proceeds from the show will go towards supporting the Nnabagereka Development Foundation. Jazz maestro, Isaiah Katumwa will be hosting this concert. Entrance to the show is Shs100,000.
This will not be the first charity event by the Ganda boys. “Last year we donated items and cash amounting to £60,000 (about Shs240m) to Kawolo Hospital,” they say. They have also donated to other causes in the recent past.
The future is promising. “We have just scratched the surface. We have a lot of potential. Music for social change is the musician’s waking up to his role,” they add.