Lawrence Okello (UGANDA) – 6th of May, National Theatre, Kampala, 20hrs.
Lawrence Okello Ochoko Oketch is a son to Alex Oketch a Japadhola of Abongiti-Tororo. Okello perpetuates a more than centenary history. He is the last born son of a long lineage of Oketch’s, master singers and agile string pluckers.
Okello is potentially the best percussionist and instrumentalist when it comes to Ugandan instruments He knows all the codes and secrets of most traditional Instruments. He estimates there reach, for posterity, but he makes his own music and he is the kind of artist who researches and reproduces the lost work of his illustrious ancestors. His father, Oketch, passed him this knowledge since he was a child, and transmitted to him his entire patrimony. Since then Okello has emancipated himself without ever breaking that link, renewing his instrument’s approach while refining his knowledge of the art and of the good manners of storytelling.
This young man is just as firmly rooted in his family’s earth as he is opened to other’s possibilities. In 2014, he is fructifying all the experiences he acquired on the sinuous path that leads towards artistic blossoming. He has built himself a name in the field of Ugandan traditional music, and has affirmed his musical personality, modernized the entire Ugandan tradition to better spread and to really honour it. He has played on various international festivals like the Bayimba International Festival of the Arts and events with Ndere Troupe, Collaborated and Toured with Joel Sebunjo and Sundiata, Janzi Band and one of the few members who have been part of both the Nile Music Project gatherings and tours of 2013, 2014.
Sarabi (KENYA) – 6th of May, National Theatre, Kampala, 20hrs.
SARABI is Swahili for Mirage, the word also means, imagination, vision and creation. Sarabi was formed in 2005 and has in the recent years proved to be one of the most talented Afro Fusion Band in Kenya. The band is made up of 8 young Men hailing from the East lands Slums of Nairobi and they started playing music at an early age of 11 years. These include; Isabella Were (Vocals), Harun Waceke (Bass and Vocals), Adam Mwadama (Acoustics guitar and Vocals), Peter Mbau (Acoustics guitar and Vocals), Bernard Oduor (Drums and Vocals), Anthony Kimangu (percussions and Vocals), John Maluni (Keyboards) and Nelson Mandela (Lead Vocalist).
Their music is influenced by the everyday happenings and they try to create a Sound Picture that vividly represents their society’s every day journey. Sarabi has over the years worked together to create one of the most solid Bands in the Kenyan Music Scene. Their music is nicknamed Oregorego which is a local vernacular word for Posho mill. Sarabi’s music is made up of heavy traditional Kenyan rhythms, Benga and a blend of Western sounds. A feature on Drum Magazine in Oct 2007 declared Sarabi as “The next force in Kenyan music”. In August 2013, BUZZ Magazine also declared SARABI as “The new face of AFRO-Fusion in Kenya”. The Band released their debut album titled “OYAORE”- A new beginning in July 2013.
Christopher (RWANDA) – 7th of May, Jinja Sailing Club, Jinja, 20hrs.
Born in 1994, in Kigali the capital city of Rwanda, Christopher Muneza took the first place in Kina Music audition (a local record label) from where he got signed. Since then, he became one of the best R&B, soul and pop singers in 2009 when he was only 16 years old. His hit songs like Irijoro, Uwomunsi were number one in the top 10 for a long period of time.
It’s out of his musical career that he is now the brand ambassador of TIGO Rwanda (a telecom company). Christopher’s first single, “IRIJORO,” was a big hit which also earned him a huge fun base. His following singles Uwomunsi, Uwoninde, and Habona were hits as well. In February 2014, singer, songwriter and composer Christopher released his debut album “HABONA”. The album launch concert was one of the most successful concerts in the country.
He was the youngest artist to be nominated in Primus Guma Guma super star season 3 and 4. He also got nominated in Salax awards 2012 and 2013.
Being the Best R&B artist of the year, Christopher has also been nominated in KORA Awards 2014 in the same category as Diamond Platinums, Kidum, Tedy Afro, and many other great artistes.
He has also done many concerts in different countries, Rwanda, Belgium and Switzerland. That has also earned Christopher a very huge fan base in different countries many of whom are girls.
Christopher is currently working on his second album and his first single will be released in May featuring Rwandan diva Butera Knowless.
Swahili Ally (TANZANIA) – 7th of May, Jinja Sailing Club, Jinja, 20hrs.
Swahili Ally is a talented Tanzanian singer and songwriter whose talent first appeared in primary school. He was born in 1989 in Tanga region where he attended his primary at Kigandini primary school and started his music career.
Ally comes from a musical family that is to say; his grandfather was a musician and he personally taught him music. After his grandfather passing away, his grandmother took on the responsibility of advising him on music – related issues. He hails from the ethnic group in Tanga known as Wadigo and sings in the Digo language mixed with Swahili. The vibrant performance which fuses Tanzanian traditional music with a unique contemporary edge, delivers a memorable performance and powerful message to audience.
In 2005 he came on to the music scene and in 2009 his name started becoming known in the music industry. In 2010, he joined Lumumba Theatre Group, participated in several workshops including Music Crossroads, Umoja cultural flying carpet in Mozambique and Sauti Academy in Nairobi, Kenya. He has performed at a number of the bigger festivals in East Africa where he got an opportunity to perform with several musicians from South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Norway, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
Qwela (UGANDA) – 8th of May, Queen’s Palace, Jinja, 20hrs
Qwela is a lively and soulful Afrofusion Band from Uganda the East of Africa. The band is comprised of eleven members that is; Alice Nakato, Anita Asiimwe, Emma Dragu, Festo Mugume, Ian Businge, Joe Kahirimbanyi, Maureen Rutabingwa, Ricco Del Monte, Roy Kasika, Sam Bisaso and Victor Uringtho.
Their music is a passionate blend of a Ugandan folk sound infused with flavors of Jazz, Reggae, Blues and even Rock sometimes. Their unique sound is derived from the amalgamation of different musical leanings of the different backgrounds of all the members against a tapestry of their African cultural background. Qwela’s music carries a message of love, hope and togetherness.
Qwela have won awards for best live band in PAM awards and Olive Awards and have been named top band of the year in various annual music surveys Nationwide.
When it comes to discography, Qwela has recorded two albums i.e.; Kidepo and Afrotopia. Both have been well received with the singles Mama Tokaaba and Eija Nkutware receiving airplay on radio stations nationwide. The band has also showcased alongside international names like Salif Keita (Mali), Nneka (Nigeria), Eric Wainaina (Kenya), Waje (Nigeria), Claire Phillips (South Africa) and Amp Fiddler (Detroit). Qwela has also had great performances over the years and these include; Qwela and Salif Keita live in Kampala, Sauti Za Busara Music Festival – Zanzibar, Kidepo live concert in – Nairobi, Qwela Live in Mombasa, Rhythm and Life Concert – Kampala, Qwela Live – Kampala.
Grace Matata (TANZANIA) – 8th of May, Queen’s Palace, Jinja, 20hrs.
Grace Matata is a born and raised Tanzanian singer/songwriter based in Dar es Salaam. Her musical journey started five years ago once she got signed to a record label Music Lab (M-Lab) under the media group, Media Kings. Her music is a unique blend of Swahili soul, RnB and Jazz with a special touch of poetry and light heartwarming melodies.
Her first album NYAKATI (meaning times in Swahili) came out in 2013 and has placed Grace onto the international platform and solidified her image as a unique female artist in the Tanzanian music industry. The album features local artists including Ben Pol, Banana Zoro and Nuruell as well as international artists such as Wyre (Kenya). She currently works and lives in Dar Es Salaam while working on her second album.
Angel (RWANDA)- 9th of May, BAX Centre, 20hrs.
Angel started as a spoken word artist in 2011 with Spoken Word Rwanda an event organized once a month in different venues, where people gather together to listen to slam poetry, music and so forth. She has been hooked ever since. Mutoni has become one of their regular performers and through that she has gained a lot of public speaking skills and stage presence.
Having worked with Ni Nyampinga, Angel got inspired to begin her musical career with a focus on giving young girls and women a voice. Since then, she has always desired to represent all the young girls around, especially those in Rwanda, showing them that any dream is achievable as long as one puts in the required effort, and have lots of passion for what they are doing. In 2011, she joined Dark Matter Entertainment alongside a few of her school mates with whom she shared the same passion and music dreams with. They formed this group to give a chance to themselves and other aspiring talented young people to showcase their talent to the community. Together, they have recorded and performed several songs that have had very good feedback. They also released a group Album in August 2012 for which they had a launch at Ishyo Arts Center. The group organized their first big live music concert in March 2012, at Caiman Restaurant which was given many great reviews. They aspire to bring back the love of live music and spread it among the young people.
In July 2013, Angel got the chance to participate in a workshop that was focused on music with Joey Blake and his Band (from the USA). In this workshop a few of the participants got the chance to get advice and tips from the great Joey Blake which really inspired her. Following the workshop, she then got the opportunity to perform at the KigaliUp! festival alongside Joey Blake, who backed her up with his band as she performed a piece of her poetry.
Having had two years of musical experience, Angel decided to make her first official mix tape which was released on November 30th 2013 with 18 songs.
Dola Kabarry (KENYA) – 9th of May, BAX Centre, Jinja, 20hrs.
Dola Kabarry was born in Siaya County in Kenya, in October 1982. At the tender age of 14, he joined his father’s band ‘Bondo Super Stars.’ Two years later, he moved to ‘Victoria International Band,’ led by his elder brother Charlie.
After leaving Victoria international Band in 1999, Dola spent the next two years honing his skills under the tutelage of some of Kenya’s most notable benga maestros. These include Ouma Jerry of ‘Les Victoria Sea’ band, George Ramogi of ‘CK Dumbe Dumbe,’ and Okatch Biggy of ‘Heka Heka Band.’
In 2001, Dola Kabarry ventured out on his own and started his band, ‘Orchestra Supa Haki Haki Stars.’ Wasting no time at all, Dola was quick to release a quick succession of hit songs: ‘Sell,’ ‘Pamela,’ and ‘Atoti,’ which quickly catapulted him to star status among the benga fraternity.
He continued to make waves in the Kenyan music industry by being nominated for the Kisima award for Best Singer of the Year in 2003, which he went on to win in 2007. After establishing himself as a formidable force in the young generation of benga artistes in Kenya, Dola took his act to the United States of America in 2008. He toured the USA for an extensive 3-month period, and then proceeded to Europe for a month.
Dola Kabarry, has so far released 7 studio albums and is currently recording his 8th album, ‘Soma Soma,’ at Ketebul Music Studios. Dola is one of the busiest performing musicians in Kenya, maintaining a constant weekly schedule that sees him entertaining his fans at different venues in Kenya.