Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Music | Unplugging Afrie: One of the freshest faces on the Ugandan music scene

She may not be your obvious household name in Ugandan music. But she has a couple of songs out –those I am aware of. Not many have even heard of her. A Google search returned an uncoordinated set of results. Random names from places as far-flung as India and Indonesia. It was at this point that I realized I was on a wild goose chase.

I only got to know Afrie through a friend, Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire, an avid fan of Pop, Soul and a bit of RnB, depending on the artiste (Every new song from Nneka seems to leave his tummy flipping). He had posted abridged lyrics to one of her songs on his Facebook timeline.

Over time, I have grown to trust his pop taste, so I went ahead to check out Afrie’s music. A few songs were available on reverbnation; Hello Sky, Askari and My life. Quite decent efforts, I must say. I am not quite sure if she has more in stock. You can check out her playlist, here.

Hello Sky begins with a somewhat laid-back intro of sorts, and one is tempted to imagine the rest of the song is going to be flat. That is until she ups her contralto to lunge into what turns out to be the song’s catchy chorus.

My life has a slightly faster tempo, with an RnB feel. Lyrics remain pretty much as simple as in Hello Sky. The production is on point as the instrumentation does not overshadow her voice. So she passes with flying colors on this aspect.

In both songs, she still manages to hit the high notes –by her standards; something close to mezzo-soprano. Askari the third song on the list is sang in two main languages, English and Luganda, with a little blend of Swahili. A very good song, and my favorite of the three, at least vocally. I just think it deserves a good video.

Overall, I feel she could do slightly better with a little vocal training to make that smooth transition between the high and low notes, without necessarily veering too far off her comfortable contralto zone.  

A very decent debut by any standards. It only remains to be seen if she will tick all the boxes in the relevance checklist to stay afloat in today’s dynamic music industry. Hers is a tricky genre, and certainly not one that will attract weekday gigs from shanty suburbs like Bwaise. While proper management could have her soaring, lack of it could leave her on the crowded road to oblivion.

- Dan Atuhaire