Ugandan Singers Break Out of Popular Music Mould

2979 Views Kampala, Uganda
Music by Ugandans with that has real African beats, real ethnic undertones and real traditional instruments is a rarity. Most singers today choose money and popularity over skill and quality. Their tracks are played laid by digital synthesizers and the number of musicians that can play instruments is drops every year. This weekend, musicians with a heart for good Afro-centric music gathered at the National Theatre in Kampala for the Bayimba Festival. They resisted the urge to lip-sync and mime music, by singing live to large audiences. The singers were accompanied by large instrumental bands that played all kinds of Ugandan traditional instruments like thumb pianos, zithers, tube fiddles, drums, xylophones and bow harps. Susan Kerunen, a Kora Award nominee, who sings in her native Alur tongue, was one of the highly billed guests at the Bayimba Festival. Kerunen says it is important for her to communicate to people in the language of her ancestors, using music and folklore from the Alur. She says this sets her apart from the crowds of artists in Uganda //Cue in: iAt a time #i Cue out: i# all over the place.i// Julie Ssesanga, former member of the Big Five Band, says there is more interest in ethnocentric music abroad that in Uganda. She says this fact will not remove her love for traditional Kiganda music from which she draws her inspiration. Herbert Kinobe, the lead instrumentalist of Soul Beat Africa, says he understands why many singers and musicians are opting for cheap, poor quality music. He says managing a band as large as his is costly and time consuming. //Cue in: iYou need to rehearse #i Cue out: i# gonna do that.i Despite this, Sarah Ndagire who sings in Luganda, Rutooro and Runyankore, says the situation is improving. She says a small, but growing number of people who are dissatisfied with the same sounds and bland music produced in Uganda, are turning to ethnocentric music. //Cue in: iDefinitely it is #i Cue out: i# people's eyes.i// The Bayimba Festival is an annual event that celebrates the work of African artists in Uganda.