By Duncan Kushaba
She has written, directed and acted in a number of films. The same roles apply to her in the world of theatre. She has also sung us some of our beloved songs like Maama and Abakazi Twalaba. Her name is Mariam Ndagire.
Clearly, she is a multitalented and passionate lover of the arts. But that is beside the point. The upside is that she is not selfish. Unlike most of our artistes who look at advancing only themselves, Ndagire chooses to use her success to nurture new talent using different projects.
One such project is The Next Ugandan Music Icon, a serialised singing contest she conceived last year to discover future musicians.
The contest enlists several hopefuls at open auditions. Fifty of them are short-listed and undergo vocal drills, while a panel of judges cuts the number weekly. The Top 10 tussle it out at the contestâ€™s finale, where the winner walks away with a recording contract and a managerial deal among other freebies.
And true to the contestâ€™s cause, last yearâ€™s winner, David Mugabi, is currently working with Pastor Wilson Bugembe and making big gospel hits. His latest, Ndiwo Kulwani, is a hit among the born-again and on television.
This yearâ€™s finale was held last Thursday at comedian Kato Lubwamaâ€™s Royal Theatre in Old Kampala.
Action started at about 3:00pm, with the top 10 tussling it out for top honours. The house was full to capacity, with local music lovers dominating the crowd, which explains the reason judges Joanita Kawalya, Patricko Mujuuka and Mariam Ndagire used Luganda.
Contestants had to do original compositions as well as mime local artistesâ€™ songs. With the weak falling off one-by-one, the contest finally crowned its top three at about 10:00pm. Rebecca Nanziri, a Makerere University student who sounds much better than several of our local artistes, emerged winner, walking away with a sh5m recording contract among other goodies. Robert Senyonjo came in second, while Herbert Mugerwa came third.
With more like Ndagire, not even the sky will be the limit for the industry.