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Azawi stamps her presence with concert

Ugandan musician Azawi performs at Serena Hotel in Kampala. PHOTO/HANDOUT

There is no better way to test audience loyalty and progress for an artiste without concerts.

Last night at Kampala Serena, Swangz Avenue was once again at it with yet another concert for maybe their flagship artiste of the moment, Azawi.

This is the artiste’s second concert in two years and was mainly a celebration of her new album, Sankofa, her second album in three years.

As it has always been said, Azawi has not really had a normal rising artiste’s circle; her partnership with Guinness, her first public appearance with a performance of Quinamino at Roast and Rhyme, being backed by the Janzi Band. Very few new artistes make such a grand entrance, plus that Konsens verse cover which later went viral.

The girl had arrived, and not even the Covid-19 lockdown could stop her.

Azawi on stage at Seren Hotel in Kampala on October 21, 2023. PHOTO/ANDREW KAGGWA

Her concert yesterday, unlike that of African Music, was meant to stamp her position, brand, way, and everything one could call an Azawi philosophy onto the industry.

Stepping on stage with Kika Troupe playing Champion From Africa, she towered on the stage dressed in an Ankara kimono, a matching top, and shorts, all designed by Ras Kasozi.

He has been designing her outfits and has been instrumental in creating the brand Azawi.

For the longest time, Ugandans have been associating with the post Lo-Fit Azawi; Ankara and Kentes have been stable, so it wasn’t surprising that it was the dress code for the day.

Champion From Africa is the second single from Sankofa. It is an upbeat song that easily invites one to sing along as if they are in a choir, an effect that most Ugandans have borrowed since Fireboy and Asake’s Bandana came out last year.

Azawi did not need a choir, though; she had her backup singers, a team of four that will always defeat Uganda’s logic of turning mediocres into formidable stars.

On any given day, Azawi’s background vocalists possessed more notes and music understanding than three quarters of the mediocrity the media suffocates the public with.

Azawi has built a big brand online and could easily be one of the most streamed local artistes, yet in flesh, on stage, she is a natural performer and talker.

She easily starts a conversation when things are not going well between the instrumentalists, and by the time they sort out whatever is happening, she starts singing without having to let the audience experience dead air.

Her ability to seamlessly transition between talking and performing is a testament to her exceptional stage presence. Her charisma and quick thinking ensure that the audience remains engaged and entertained throughout her performance.

Most of the stage time was dedicated to her new album Sankofa; her first 30 minutes, for instance, were uninterrupted with songs Outside, Omwenge, and Ten Over Ten. Of course, she also threw in a few songs from the Lo Fit EP and African Music album.

What makes shows exceptional are usually moments that artistes or show producers pull off. Talk about the 2Pac hologram, Michael Jackson’s 3D tribute, almost six months after his death.

Azawi had that moment with the collaboration with rapper Keko. Joselyn Tracey, alias Keko, has been in Uganda for a few weeks since coming back from Canada, where she had exiled herself. The two collaborated on Keko’s This is How We Do It, with Azawi singing the late Radio’s verse.

Azawi sings about many things that have happened to her, and it’s clear that many of these are about love. She cracked jokes about these experiences, later unloading them on songs such as Brand New and Married Man.

“You should thank God your man is unhappy; probably his heart has been broken by a side bae,” she said once during an interaction.

She closed her set with Summer Bae, the collaboration with Konsens, but she still got a chance to reprise the artiste’s verse most Ugandans saw her sing the first time they saw her. Just that this time it was on a song she actually did with the man himself.

It’s like his presence was felt, even in absencia.

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