DIVA MOMENT: Seven ladies will share a stage at the quarterly Qwela Junction this Sunday. This particular one is dubbed the Divas Junction where veteran singer Rachael Magoola, one of Afrigo Band’s lead vocalists, will be on stage with six young divas, each gifted differently. EDGAR R. BATTE writes.
When she opens her mouth, her vocal ability is evident. Solome is a celebrated gospel artiste who is yet to penetrate the secular circles.
She has featured on some Qwela gigs and revellers ululate when she hits the high notes as she gets lost in that musical moment.
Solome is the daughter of Edward Mugambi, a Mathematics professor at Makerere University, who has served on the board of Kampala Music School and is the current chairman of Kampala Singers. Her mother, Lydia Mugambi, is a lecturer and was a singer, a clear indication that the 32-year-old hails from a music background.
Solome also writes music and released her debut 10-track album titled The Song Love in May. She launched the album to a full house at Golf Course Hotel, in Kampala. The album has since attracted some good sales on amazon.com.
“I intend to take my music beyond the gospel arena so that it is enjoyed by people from different religious backgrounds, at different levels, with different lifestyles and across borders,” the singer says.
She gives relevance to the argument that a singer is not fit to be called a musician, unless they can play an instrument. Rita Sabiiti is a gifted guitarist who plucks notes and sends chills down spines with her soulfulness. She has performed for different crowds, here and beyond borders. Her audience knows her for her beautiful guitar skills and performing with artistes around. Sabiiti’s career started at a tender age of eight when she picked up the guitar for the first time. When she was older, she went to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as an education consultant on curriculum development. While she provided consultancy services, she did not forget or let go of her music career. She went out to perform and earned the “virtuous guitarist” title, thanks to The Fridge Magazine.
She has been based in UAE for the last eight years where she penetrated entertainment venues there. Today, she has a special night at Al Manzil Hotel, in downtown Dubai where she performs every Friday with British/Jamaican crooner Sebrina Riley. Back home, Sabiiti has worked alongside musicians like Afrigo Band, Tony Senkebejje and Ndere Troupe.
“My vision is to promote positive musical experiences through my performances, recordings and songs. I strongly believe that music is an important part of society and I encourage young people to use music to promote peace, human rights and education,” she says.
It is therefore, not surprising that her song Children for Children was translated into French, German and Spanish by the UN and used as a theme song whenever there are conferences related to children’s rights.
While in UAE, she got a unique chance of gracing a crowd of 8,000 revellers at the Formula 1 Grand Prix races at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. She has also recorded with some of UAE stars like Kamal Musallam and Carla Saad.
Sabiiti is an Oxford University, UK alumna where she did studied Education and Music. She runs a recording studio with her brothers Moses Sabiiti, and Jason Sabiiti, in Ntinda. She is married to Edwin Magara and they have three children who all play musical instruments. When she is not performing, she teaches music at International School of Uganda.
She is not known as the stage gladiator for praise. When Jemimah Sanyu steps on stage, she gives her all to fans. She manifests spectacular vitality on stage with a remarkably strong voice. Her talent has enabled her meet the famous such as the President, thanks to her contribution to the music project, I am a Ugandan, on which she collaborated with other artistes. The young vocalist has shared a stage with stars like Habib Koite, Navio, Joanita Kawalya of Afrigo Band and Juliana Kanyomozi. She is the singer doing songs such as Ziba Amaaso, which she released in 2012, introducing her on the music scene. She had earlier done Kankusute.
Sanyu has been recognised twice as a Diva Awards nominee and she has worked with producer Henry Kiwuuwa of Gryace Records.
“We did a few projects together, including a song I am a Ugandan that featured 40 musicians. They had to pick only six best songs. I thank God that my song was one of them,” Sanyu recollects.
Some of her other songs include Amaaso Go Googera, Sitya, This Love and Yakubedha, among others.
Sanyu was selected to perform on World Music Day 2015 in Uganda alongside Undercover Brothers Ug, Sandy Soul and Edwin Ruyonga. She has also performed at DoaDoa in Jinja, Selam Festival Ethiopia, Bayimba Festival Uganda 2014, World Music Day Uganda 2015, Sondeka in Kenya, among other festivals.
Some artistes choose to produce a song every now and then, then there are those like Naava Grey who will take time to release music because they are cautious about the quality of music they release.
She recently produced a 20-track album, the fruition of five years in studio. Artistes like her work hard, smart but above all, creatively. You will agree when you listen to her new music. The former Tusker Project Fame (TPF) contestant grew up in a musical family. That is why even when she studied Information Technology (IT) and Astrology, music stuck in her mind and she has not let go of her dream.
Grey began her musical career after being evicted from TPF in 2008. With the exposure on TV, she decided to put more effort in sharpening her abilities to compose and write songs.
She melodically fuses Ganda folklore, rock and RnB, creating a neo afro-pop vibe and very distinctive sound. She is versatile and performs in her native language, Luganda, as well as English. She is one of the few gifted artistes who have recorded under veteran producer Steve Jean and Michael Fingers. Some of her songs Nteredde and Aliba Waani were recorded at Fenon. She has also worked with producer D’King of Neutriq Town studios, on songs Soka Lami and Ninga Omuloge. She has collaborated with M.I from Nigeria, K’millian and Roberto of Zambia.
For a long time, the saxophone has been a thing of the gents. In came Maureen Rutabingwa, chicly known by stage name Moroots, and the sax got a sexy face. She has been part of Qwela Band for about two years and during this time, she has proved herself.
She doubles as a vocalist and her lyrics are defining because they come from deep down her soul and heart. Many times her performances are interjected by fans giving her a standing ovation. She hits the high notes both vocally and with her golden-coloured saxophone.
Moroots was one of the aces during the recent Sax Aces Qwela Junction and she came out strongly as one of the most entertaining acts.
She is the lady who won the Airtel Trace Music Star where she bagged Shs100m. Music runs in her family. Her parents pursue singing as a hobby, and so home is where the singing is nurtured.
While at Gayaza High School, she was overheard by one of her teachers singing Kelly Clarkson’s In Moments Like This and she was asked to sing before an audience of classmates. At King’s College Budo band, she was part of the Novelle. Her vocals were sharped at St Francis Church.
Since then, her audience has been growing bigger and more cheerful of her efforts. She has featured at a number of concerts in town but her creativity does not end on stage. As a graduate of Industrial and Fine Art from Makerere University, Suubi practices art too; she works with plastics to create a distinct work.
Young folks will hear stories about a song that caused quite a stir in Ugandan history. Obangaina was not another hit on the radio charts. It was a chartbuster. It remained on the Capital FM countdowns for the longest time and singer Rachael Magoola was glad she was finally a star. To date, it remains her signature track. A few times you will hear fans mentioning the song title before saying hello. Magoola is an artiste whose musical journey started at home where her father, the late Nicholas Magoola, was a music teacher at several colleges in eastern Uganda. As a young girl, she sang in the church choir and played musical instruments at home. In Senior Two, she was expelled from Tororo Girls School for performing in a band while on a school break. In 1983, Magoola joined Namasagali College and later Kaliro Teacher Training College, where she trained as a secondary school teacher, specialising in music and languages.
She taught at Namasagali College, until 1993 when she did a degree course in Education, majoring in Music at Kyambogo University. In 1997, she released her maiden album, Inhaife which she followed with Tyenda Wundi in 1998, Tonyiiga in 2000, Atubembe in 2001, Songs from the Source of the Nile in 2005 and Eisadha in 2008.
Afrigo’s lead diva brings all this fine talent on stage tonight at the junction as she leads daughters in the trade.
About qwela junction
The idea behind the Qwela junction was collaboration – bringing artistes and audiences together. The musical prowess exhibited at these junctions is memorable and leaves the audience wanting. “Kampala is teeming with talent and so finding artistes to work with is not as hard as it used to be. In fact, the difficulty is in the deciding who to work,” Joe Kahirimbanyi, Qwela Band’s leader and brainchild of the junction says. One of the common misconceptions about the Qwela Junction concert series is that it is a competition on who is the top-ranking artiste. However, the junction is just a collaborative concert. The Divas Qwela Junction happening at Kampala Serena Hotel, Victoria Hall will be the third edition after the Guitar Maestros in April and Sax Aces in August.