Ugandan music has a rich rhythmic connotation that has gradually evolved from our traditional music, predisposed to the blend of flair of modern world music to have a complete package.
Our traditional music was and is still very much loved and much as it has remained in the background, it continues to be at the forefront of our special functions related to specific festivities like; marriages, initiations, royal festivals, harvests and the like.
Such music in Uganda is performed by skilled tribesmen and women - who are good at various traditional instruments and with a good knowledge of the customs and meaning of the music. There is a lot of dancing and drama involved which maintains the true identity and roots of Ugandan music.
These traditional rhythms have come down through generations and are unique to specific regions and tribes.
... And then, not so long ago in the 1950s and '60s came the world of the guitar.
I will quickly note that perhaps not much was recorded to capture the wonderful rhythmic moments of our historical icons of the time such as; Eclas Kawalya, Fred Masaazi, Eli Wamala, Frida Sonko, Peterson Mutebi and presumably even some of the greatest Ugandan bands of all times like; the AGS boys, Equator band, King Jazz de'Equateur and the famous Afrigo band - that is to-date still going strong, and to carefully tell the story of where our music has been.
But that said, the timelessness of their composition will charm your ears - when and wherever you get to listen to them even in these modern times when the later generation of Ugandan music has turned to drum machines, electric guitars and studio recording.
Ugandan hit songs from the 1960s and 1970s like; 'Jane wange', 'Rin', 'Nakabiri', 'Mega jukira' and more... still find favour with the older generation. This famously known as 'Kadongo kamu' music has lived on with its charm and will often burst forth when the mood is right.
Most of this music was a class apart and was popular dance music that was enjoyed by the working class and the other sections of the society.
The late 1970s through to the mid/late 1980s where periods of turbulence in our history and its fair to say that Ugandan music wasn't spared either - not much went on and it was virtually a time when the music industry was frozen. Nevertheless, the 1980s through to the early 1990s saw the famous Jimmy Katumba with the Ebonies dominate the air waves.
The early 1990s marked the renaissance period for our music - the old that had withered through the bad times revamped their music career but for many this was probably too late especially with the arrival of the new generation like; Ragga Dee, the famous Prim n Propa, Peter Sematimba of the dungeon studio, Winston Mayanja, Shanks Vivie Dee, Chance Nalubega, Menton Summer, Rasta Rob and more that came in with the modern talent and style.
At the time, the taste and preferences for Ugandan music had shifted towards Congolese music and the 1990s saw an influx of Congolese singers perform shows in Uganda. Ugandan music was yawning for something new!
And then, towards the mid/late 1990s, our music broke ground - coming under the influence of Afro-Caribbean/Jamaican beats and sounds and the American style. Ugandan musicians such as Jose Cameleone, Emperor Orlando, Bobi Wine, Ragga Dee, Bebe Cool, Juliana Kanyomozi and Irene Namubiru made their presence felt in Uganda and on the East African regional scene. Suddenly our music had come of age!
Hip hop soon became popular on the Ugandan music scene and break dancing became a famous dancing art form with various dance groups coming up.
Around 2000, there was a rise in Ugandan rap - which very much sounds like America rap but they would shoot me for calling it that, careful! It certainly has a true Ugandan touch to it. Rappers like MC Afrik and DJ Berry had started the sway in the 90s. Klear Kut, Milestone, Chain, Peter Miles, Navio, Keko, GNL and more... then took it to a new dimension over the years.
Ugandan Music has indeed come a long way and has established its hold on the regional charts, and gradually eating into the African and global scenes too. Names like Maurice Kirya, Ouma Myko, Richard Kaweesa and Tshila have gone global with sounds that are largely acustic with an afro-fusion style.
But perhaps you might want to listen to the more soothing Ugandan music that is rich with message and rhymes. Musician like Mesach Semakula, Silver Kyagulanyi, Pastor Wilson Bugembe (a famous gospel singer) and more ... are house hold names that you can't miss.
Isaiah Katumwa - Here is a bit of Suddenly!
In Recent times, our music scene has also embraced Jazz music with our very own jazz artists like Isaiah Katumwa and Pragmo N'Saiga performing on the international stage. Look out for the various jazz nights in Kampala if you are the kind that loves jazz.
... that we have our very own versions of some of the famous nursery rhymes like Incy Wincy spider? Do your version and they will follow suit with theirs, you will be amazed! These little songs live with us for ever.
Enjoy the sounds!
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