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 Ugandan artistes that are under-celebrated

By Michael Kanaabi

Added 28th October 2019 10:32 AM

They are immensely talented and whoever has an ear for music will attest to that but in spite of this great talent, they have remained on the peripherals of the music industry as less talented ‘lucky’ ones scale the heights and become superstars.

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(From left to right) Henry Tigan, Angella Kataumba and Beenie Gunter

They are immensely talented and whoever has an ear for music will attest to that but in spite of this great talent, they have remained on the peripherals of the music industry as less talented ‘lucky’ ones scale the heights and become superstars.

LIFESTYLE

Space in the music industry has grown smaller as more new talent shows up every day and the established big artistes tried to hold onto their fort at all costs.

But there are those artists that have been around for a while who on first hearing we thought would go places in the near future but somehow plateaued really fast.

They are immensely talented and whoever has an ear for music will attest to that but in spite of this great talent, they have remained on the peripherals of the music industry as less talented ‘lucky’ ones scale the heights and become superstars. We bring you some of the really recognisable ones. 

Naira Ali

Power in voice, choreography, costumes, performance on stage, she has all of that. Naira Ali is a true creative even beyond the music itself. Her earlier songs like Binyuma, Masala and Shy girl alongside Bafana are all good songs.

Her other songs like Nakupenda, Sikyalinda and the more recent ‘Serial Killer’ are all products that will get you nodding in the affirmative.

But for some reason, she remains among the other artists, not the first that would come to mind when you think of the cream. Either it is her genre, choice of songs that betray her or she just has to push harder till everyone accepts that she belongs up there. And yes we shall appreciate her effort when that day arrives.

 

 Naira Ali is known for songs like Binyuma, Masala and shy girl alongside Bafana

 

Omulangira Suuna (OS)

If this list was in order he would really close to the top if not at the top. Omulangira Suuna also known as OS was the producer and featured in one of the first hits of the celebrated duo Radio and Weasel called Nakudata. After their Nakudata and Zuena break out hits, Radio and Weasel never looked back and only grew from strength to strength, their long stay at the top only being cut short by Radio’s passing on last year.

Unfortunately, Omulangira Suuna’s trajectory in the music industry has been too mixed up. From changing names to OS at one point to changing religions to become a Muslim then reverting, the talented vocalist and producer have been here, there and everywhere.

Critics say many of his songs are not original but that is the trend these days as artistes sample here and there, combining genres in search of hits. While it works for others, it seldom works for Suuna who has still failed to get to the top after 10 plus years in the industry and collaborations with almost every big star there including David Lutalo and Spice Diana more recently.

 

 mulangira uuna  and etina amukasa Omulangira Suuna and Diana Nalubega

 

Shifa Musisi     

Shifa Musisi is one of those soulful world music artistes whose live performances just breathe real life into music. Forget those CD aided performances that have become almost a permanent bit of local artistes’ performances these days, she has kept above that grade consistently.

Her love for acoustic instruments and staying away from too much computer-aided production in her sound may have done a lot to keep her locked out of Uganda’s mainstream music industry that has more and more tended towards bubble gum over the years but from older songs like Endongo Yange to some of her recent works like Tondenkanga Wo in which she tends towards reggae, her talent is too hard to ignore.

Some of her more famous songs include Owoluganda, Ebirowozo and the deeply religious ‘Life without You’ all of which she will be performing in her concert set to take place on 1st November.

Maybe this concert will redeem her and earn her a place at the top of the industry where her fellow very soulful and equally talented Naava Grey has touched but not quite held tight too.   

 etina amukasa  came to the music scene with  her breakout song mikisa gya bakazi Betina Namukasa came to the music scene with her breakout song Emikisa gya bakazi

 

Betina Namukasa

If Rema Namakula was to ever get a perfect replacement in terms of musical ability within the industry, this is the girl who has what it takes, the reach, sheer power and melody in her vocals are hard to match.

Her break out song Emikisa gya bakazi said it all, it was meticulously executed, if it was done by someone more famous it would still be talked about to date. Her other songs like Ompalula Buwaluzi, Nakutegera, Necklace among others have not done so well but among her lot of new young female vocalists including Karitas Kario, Carol Nantongo, Vivian Tendo, Viola Nakitende to mention but a few, she still remains the real cream musically.

Beenie Gunter

His Tubaayo hit from a few years back will still get any partier on their feet in the club, his command of patwa and ability to twist words and flow dance hall wise can only be matched by a few more celebrated than him in this industry. However even after collaborating with the likes of Kenzo, Nina Roz, Navio, Lydia Jazmine and a couple of others he is yet playing at the very top of his subgenre which is a dance hall.

Another man who has his way with words and in spite of his immense talent as a dance hall artiste hasn’t made the very top yet too is Nutty Neithan, these two with good management and better luck can scale continental heights in dance hall given age is still slightly on their side!   

 ovan uzinda and amie ulture Jovan Luzinda and Jamie Culture

 

Jovan Luzinda

With an amazing voice that lingers in the baritone and bass range which is not a common find among Ugandan artistes, Jovan Luzinda who was part of the fresh talent recruited by the New Eagles when they started out is a class act.

His break out Mbosera song, follow-ups like Mpeede Mama, Etamiro Lya Love among others remind you of equally heavy voiced artistes exceptional artistes like the Late Martin Angume and Jimmy Katumba for those who listened to him.

But this mega-talent supposed to be the crown prince of New Eagles and band music on the whole like the crown Princess Betina Namukasa seems to have stagnated somewhere. Just in case things change anytime soon, this guy will surely take the industry by storm.   

Jamie Culture

This guy almost sings like an angel but yes he is as human as all of us. Born to a veteran in the music industry Kabuye Semboga who is equally celebrated in his generation, Jamie Culture is as much a gifted songwriter as he is a vocalist who has written songs for a number of big names including Rema Namakula.

Having been around for a while, his break out smooth melody Sabasaliza and other songs like Smile, Telukya, Educate a Girl Child (Rebecca) and his latest Nkuloowoza and Vice versa, lyrically he is high up there with the late Mosey Radio, the late only outshining him with the sharpness and higher pitch in voice. For some reason, he is stuck somewhere in there but luckily he is still breathing and who knows he can still become the greatest tomorrow!     

Diana Nalubega

Diana Nalubega broke onto the music scene at around the same time as Rema Namakula and some critics felt she actually was the better artiste of the two at the time. When Rema’s Kaliba was rising, Kisumuluzo a song by Dianah Nalubega was on the loose too.

She seems to have taken things a little slow and easy after all her talent is in your face and along the way, it seems she picked up other interests outside music. Her other songs like Tonkona, Sukali, Nsuna suna, Nsakanya, and Mpulunguse all show how good she is.

If only she could work much harder as an artiste she can pick up and catch because clearly Rema seems to be in need of proper peer competition the kind that defined the Juliana versus Irene era besides the younger ladies pulling at her tail. 

  eenie unter has had collaborations with big artistes like enzo ina oz avio and ydia azmine Beenie Gunter has had collaborations with big artistes like Kenzo, Nina Roz, Navio and Lydia Jazmine

 

Henry Tigan

His song Waddawa should be a good question for us all to ask him considering he had a hit song by the same title about 10 years back. Abogezi for many was his signature tune, Aneganyi with Bobi Wine, Bakwabuzi and a collaboration with an International star made him the talk of the town.

But the career of this easy-going very melodic artiste took a nosedive when he parted with his showy promoter and manager Sudiman. His more recent songs like Stop Violence, Webale Mukama and Ndabayo haven’t done much for the once-promising career teacher who fell off the mark when he started taking things easy assuming he had arrived.   

Angella Katatumba

She could easily be called the Jenifer Hudson of Uganda but the rich, brilliant, pretty and very vocally gifted joint heiress to the Katatumba Empire has faired way below her musical talent.

Having heard her sing the National anthem at one of those National events at Kololo airstrip a few years ago, it felt like watching Mariah, Whitney or Beyoncé doing the Star Spangled Banner on CNN or one of those cable sports network during a major sporting final in the USA.

Those who have watched her live performances keenly know she can jump into any big-name artiste’s song and deliver it beyond expectation. But her love for generic Pop, lack of a top industry level manager, limited drive, poor choice of songs and maybe lack of good songwriters have kept Angella Katatumba without the kind of hits that she is worth musically.

If only she could fix those issues, the sky is not the limit for her musically.

 

    

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