By Joseph Batte
IF Ugandaâ€™s brand of pop music was food, believe me we would all be suffering from the devastating effect of eating the same food week in week out â€” kwashiorkor and the ravages that come with itâ€” big bellies, leathery skins, spikey legs, wispy hair and all. What a pathetic sight we would be!
This is because every other day, we are fed on a steady diet of similar sounding music, with the same beats and rhythms that are â€˜cookedâ€™ by the same producers!
Tshila, a young and beautiful female artiste with a broader music vision, has â€˜cookedâ€™ up a rare soul-nourishing â€˜dishâ€™ of music titled Sipping from the Nile.
The CD offers 12 tracks namely: Kampala, Namboozo, Nkole Sente (Earn My Living), Sippinâ€™ from the Nile, Urumi Moyoni (Pain in my heart), Omubbi Wakuno (Village Thief) Ca Suffit (Had enough), Scientific Love, Beera Nange, Buli Sheshi Nghola (Whatever I do) Naboone (I get it) and the Night Is Mine.
Sipping from the Nile contains compositions with strong melodies and beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful lyrics, which feature beautiful arrangements, dazzling musicianship, creative flair, and conventional song structure. And, all these compositions work independently as well as part of the whole.
This is not music made by Pentium chips. This is purely organic music featuring live instruments like guitars and piano, thumb piano, congas, shakers, tambourine, acoustic drums, tube fiddle, traditional drums, live cellos and all played by very fine musicians.
Tshila also plays guitars on some of the tracks.
The instrumentation is tailored to enhance the songs and not overwhelm them. With subsequent listening, the subtleties rise to the surface and draw the listener deeper into each song.
To power her music, Tshila borrows from old school funk, rock nâ€™ roll elements, hip-hop, soul and R nâ€™B and even falls back on her folksy roots.
One thing that calls for attention about Sipping from the Nile is the Pan African spirit that crawls all over her music.
Namboozo, Buli Shesi Nghola and Naboone are sung in Lugishu (her mother tongue), Ca Suffit is belted out in impeccable French while Urumi Moyo is sung in Swahili. The sweet tinkering sounds of the kora by Herbert Kinobe give the CD a rare West African touch.
A combination of her voice and the different styles of sounds take the album into a different territory; a small territory occupied by Richard Kaweesa, Akiiki Romeo and Shaka Mayanja.
Lyrically, Tshila also does with words what a fine artiste does with a paintbrush-create provocative, engaging and stimulating images. The lyrics speak to your emotions and arouse your intellect.
The quality of her voice can be likened to the American neo-soul diva Eryka Badu and Sade (Sweetest Taboo). It reaches out and places an invincible hand around your heart and gently squeezes it with lyrics like: â€œLetâ€™s be the physics thatâ€™s used in locomotion, Letâ€™s be the chemistry, that makes us feel these emotions, Lets be the biology that causes stimulation, changing the course of natureâ€™s evolution.â€
Sipping from the Nile has introduced Tshila as a Ugandan singer of rare class and individuality.
Unfortunately, her music is meant for people who appreciate music for musicâ€™s sake and those are really few. Local record companies will not touch her CD because it is not crafted with that popular kindandali beat. But if the music is this good for me, who cares?
Artistically Tshilaâ€™s message is loud and clear â€“â€“You do not have to rely on the computer to make good music. When you draw water from the Nile, you do not need to do it digitally.
It is a simple act, which is almost as mystical as listening to her CD. This is what we call music!