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Thought they were gone? …think again

QUIET BUT NOT BROKE: When a musician takes long to release a song, many will write them off. And there are quite a number of artistes that enjoyed quite a share of the limelight and charts but somehow just went mum. You know some names and we have some names, but these are artistes who went quiet but are not completely dead musically. They are doing well for themselves, albeit not on stage, as Isaac Ssejjombwe writes.

Esther Nabaasa – Songwriter

Her breakthrough was when she was signed by UG Records and during that time, being signed to a record label was a big plus for an artiste. Esther Nabaasa had just won the second edition of the Tusker Project Fame (TPF). She was highly believed to be the next big thing after Juliana and Iryn Namubiru. “I want my music to hit the international scene. I want to be marketable all over the world,” were her words soon after returning from Kenya where she had participated in the competition along with 18 other contestants. But that did not happen. Nabaasa’s singing career lasted as long as her one-year record deal with Universal Music Group in South Africa. There were stories that she had quit music after just a few songs such as Sing From the Nile, Yoga Yoga and Watwala Omutima Gwange. Word then was that she was going to concentrate on her marriage to producer Michael Fingers. The couple have two children now and Nabaasa never completely quit music. She settled for songwriting and she wrote some of the songs on Bebe Cool’s Go Mama album that was released in 2014 as well as Juliana’s Bits and Pieces. Besides that, she also does music for commercials and last we heard is that she hit a jackpot writing one of the songs in Natasha Museveni Karugire’s 27 Guns movie.

Banjoman – Real Estate

Speak of singing families, the Kyagulanyi brothers are exactly that. Mickie Wine, Bobi Wine, Eddy Yawe and Banjoman have all been singing but if the songs are anything to go by, then Banjoman was definitely the odd man out. His songs did not see light of day and that was probably a sign. His true calling should have been real estate where he seems to be earning big. According to reliable information, Banjoman owns approximately 50 rental units in Kampala and in one interview, he said he started investing in rentals as early as Senior Six. “I was earning some money from music as well as a share from my parents’ property. So I used the money to set up rentals on a piece of land I had inherited around Mawanda road,” Banjoman said. Since then, he has expanded his dream to other parts of Kampala such as Kamwokya, Mulago, Nsoba and Kyebando.  He admits that music would never have brought him this much success.

Richard Kaweesa – Songwriter

The last time we heard about Richard Kaweesa was when he was suing the President of Uganda for Shs5b in November last year. According to Kaweesa, he is the rightful owner of Another Rap, a ‘song’ that President Museveni used during his 2006 presidential campaigns. Before then, the Hakuna Matata singer had stopped releasing songs and what we hear is that he was somewhere grassing. But was he? No. Kaweesa was busy establishing his Spirit of Africa group, which eventually won rights to sing the official Uganda at 50 Jubilee song Yoga Yoga. Also behind the scenes, Kaweesa was busy penning the Yerere song which is the official theme song, for the Miss Uganda beauty pageant. An instrumental version of the song featured in the 30-minute entertainment at the opening of Chogm in 2007 while his song Spirit of Africa was used as a theme song at the World Youth Cricket Cup.

Viboyo – Gaffer

He may not have been a big name but Viboyo, real name Moses Nsubuga, contributed tremendously to the music industry, especially with his collaborations. He stopped singing long time ago, choosing to settle at his job at Swangz Avenue where he works as a gaffer. A gaffer, also known as chief lighting technician, is the head electrician, responsible for the execution (and sometimes the design) of the lighting plan for a production. You will find him on set whenever there is a shoot and he has been doing this for the past five or so years.

You will only catch Viboyo releasing a tune at the end of the year where he does his annual recap of how the year has been – he calls it the ‘Rap up’.

He also started Sound Room, a music promotion and distribution company which is like a hub of Ugandan music and artistes who did not know how to go about music. With Sound Room, he helped promote several artistes such as Chameleone, Bebe Cool, Moze Radio, Juliana, Ragga Dee to mention but a few, by supplying their music and so on. Viboyo at one time put on hold his music to promote Bella for four years. From what we gather, he is very happy where he is.

KS Alpha – Web programmer

Sometime back, we were told by someone in KS Alpha’s camp that the artiste received $1,000 (about Shs3.8m) and he would earn more if his Bilingi song ended up being used in the Queen of Katwe movie. Unfortunately, the deal did not go through but he still bagged some ka money because all songs that were booked to be used were paid for regardless. The song had just 804 views on YouTube. It had been so many years since KS Alpha had done some music and matter of fact that deal was a big deal because it came at a time when the artiste had given up on music. From what we gathered, KS Alpha took on a more geeky path… working as a web programmer.

Babaluku – Rap foundation

According to Wikipedia, Babaluku, born Silas Babaluku Balabyekkubo, is a Ugandan rapper, musician, producer, community youth activist and social entrepreneur. He is a member of the Bataka Squad which he founded in 1994 with MoMo Mc, Krazie Native, and Lyrical G. He is also founder of the Bavubuka Foundation which equips youth with leadership skills and seeks to transform them through art. We must have lost the millennials at the first description because it has been ages without music from him. In 2016, Babaluku made an appearance at Roast and Rhyme but of course it took only real rap and loyal fans to understand his performance. He was still as upbeat and passionate as he was back in his days.

Well, he may be musically quiet but the guy is killing it with his Bavubuka Foundation. With a strong background in hip hop, it is said Babaluku has a good number of donors abroad who invest in the foundation and most of the time, he is catching flights.

Mariam Ndagire – Film and theatre

Mariam Ndagire is still a force to reckon with in the Uganda music industry because most of her songs were educative and inspirational.

In 2007, Mariam Ndagire disbanded Trends, a music band she formed in 2003. It had artistes such as Karim Saava, Pheobe Nassolo, Sarah Ndagire, Robinah Bisirikirwa, and Charles Sekyewa, among others. She was making a career switch – to film. This industry was relatively virgin at the time but she took the risk. Her first film was Down This Road I Walk, which was released in 2007. The film was a success and laid a foundation for Ndagire’s film writing, producing and directing because after then came several other films and TV series: Strength Of A Stranger (2008), Hearts In Pieces (2009), Where We Belong (2011), Dear Mum (2012), Tendo Sisters (2010-ongoing), Anything But Love (2013) and You Can’t Break My Will (2013). Shelving her singing must have been a wise choice after all for Ndagire because today she runs the Mariam Ndagire Film and Performing Centre, with a class of 45 budding actors and actresses. She is also one of the directors at Bat Valley Theatre.

Ziggy Dee – Production

His Eno Mic song is still a hit despite the fact that it was released in the early 2000s. At the time, it was believed that Ziggy Dee, real name Adam Mutyaba, would revolutionise the Ugandan music industry but he would have just one or two more songs before going MIA. What we did not foresee, is Eno Mic being Ziggy Dee’s forever breadwinner.

In 2016, the song featured in the Disney film Queen of Katwe and immediately it played in cinemas around Kampala, the audience lit up in murmurs. And what we understand is that Ziggy Dee earned more than $3,000 (about Shs11m) from the deal. Is that why we rarely see him perform or releasing any more music? No. Two years ago, Ziggy Dee opened up an audio and video production studio in Bunga and he mentioned having attained training in video filming at Nasser road.

The last time we saw Dee on stage was when he made a stage appearance at Roast and Rhyme early last year and boy did the crowd go wild when he came on!

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