I was so glad to be invited back to RVF this year as a part of the Ugandan Massive. This year we were 25 in number including Newcomers: Lady Slyke, DJ Nesta, Winnie, Sweet Banana, Moroto Industries and Nilotika Percussion Ensemble. Alongside myself, Blessed San and DJ Ska Face I think we represented Uganda to the maximum. This year I got to stay at Top Camp which was bliss, because I rarely get to spend time alone. I enjoyed it immensely. It gave me the opportunity to create new pieces, meditate, reflect, stretch and just be with myself. I found because of this my interactions with people had greater meaning because I enjoyed them more.
The added advantage of being on the hill was I was neighbours with Santuri Safari Kitete studio. When I first ascended up the hill ( a very sweaty trek with 2 bags and a yoga mat) I reached the top and found ESA and upon descending back down the hill got to discover that he was working with Gregg Tendwa a great Dj and promoter of Hatari Voltage a great event promoting digital music and percussive sound.
This year I got the opportunity to do some backing vocals on a track with Kenyan artist Makadem. To be honest I didn’t know who he was but after saw him and his brilliant band I can’t forget. This guy is a great performer, wordsmith/storyteller and vocalist. So I’m kind of glad I didn’t know who he was before I recorded the vocals, I would have been too star struck!
What was also rewarding was talking to Makadem, Gregg, Aziz (a fantastic percussionist)and Ken about music, our dedication to it and willingness to listen. This very underrated skill is at the foundation of being a good musician, because when you listen well it makes you more receptive to working as a part of a group/band.
Too often as a female vocalist I have had to battle, mic in hand with a band who refuse to listen. They create walls of sound with no space. There is an urgency to how they play, always wanting to be heard, thus they fail to understand the power of space and the dynamic of the music. Its frustrating at times but I took some solace in the fact that they understood my experiences and put it down to, youthful exuberance.
Its hard being a female band leader in UG, patriarchy is the norm, so when as a women you try to assert yourself you’re met with resistance because most of the musicians in Kampala are male. I love living in Uganda but honestly this has been one of my biggest challenges, but I’m determined to overcome because music gives me so much inspiration. Listening to it, creating it, sharing it. Next year I want to play with my own ensemble, all live. Where they is a will there is a way.