Monday, August 7, 2017

Commentary | Sauti Ya Africa finally coming of age?

When I first heard about them, seven years ago, Sauti Ya Africa were doing renditions of classic and opera music, with a few staggered original compositions of their own.

They were doing this kind of genre you would never see advertised for shows like Ekiggunda, where every homosapien that has been to a Ugandan music studio gets a chance to arouse the weed in the crowd; from wannabe satirists like Mathias Walukagga to musical slay queens like Winnie Nwagi and Irene Ntale.

I was mulling over an artiste that would perform at my impending wedding and I had failed to get Silver Kyagulanyi’s contact. So we settled for this relatively unknown bunch of talented upstarts as our plan B.

A friend had recommended them, and my mind was like "why not?" We set about hunting for them in a fruitful search that ended with myself at one end of the negotiating table and Ben Katumba at the other.

Ben is one quarter of the singing quartet that is Sauti Ya Africa. They were supposed to have been our version of Sauti Sol, but they got lots of swag before actually becoming famous. And that is how they ended up where they are.

Calm and collected, he looks you in the eye with the valor of a heavyweight boxer and the guile of a Mossad operative. He makes you imagine he is even listening to things you are about to say. I finally thought I had interacted with an artiste who would note down every detail of our agreement.

A deal was struck, and they were to do five songs. Two of them were to be of their choice while the other two would be my own. The fifth was supposed to be a surprise composition to my wife in, largely, a choice and tone of my words, done in pop genre.

Come D-Day, and one of my choices was been ditched. Of course I couldn’t run off the dais to remind them of our agreement, though they delivered on the surprise song for the bride.

Those who knew their type of music had fun, while those who didn’t went to sleep every time they stepped on stage.

"Bano abantu abaatwebasa otulo ku mbaga yo wali obajje wa?", asked one of my friends a few weeks after the wedding.

A couple of years down the road, and they were doing shows in almost every country that appreciates music, and had transformed into a pricier outfit.

The latest release from their music repertoire is "Amaalo", a song that has had music critiques like Timothy Kalyegira (who probably considers himself too sophisticated to review Ugandan music) and Dennis Asiimwe wax lyrical about their talent.

The transformation, of course, extended to their lifestyle. A phalanx of musical hopefuls that once hauled themselves in a tired Mitsubishi Challenger now moves in a fleet of Pearl White Toyota Mark Xs.

One day, I should accost them and demand for my song.

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