September 15 is a day Sheebah Karungi will never forget; the day she turned up with her Sheebaholics at Kololo Ceremonial grounds to face ‘the king herself ’ Cindy Sanyu and her Cindicates, and left the grounds musically humiliated.
The battle started with Cindy and Sheebah booking Kololo for their concerts on the same day, with Cindy even paying for the venue before Sheebah and her Yolo Festival could. After months of a war of words that saw Cindy (nicknamed Nokia because she is old-skool) and Sheebah (iPhone because she represents a newer generation of artistes) drag houses, foreign trips, husbands and children into the fray, they decided to share a stage at Kololo and let their fans be the judge.
Thousands thronged to the Kololo, transforming the grounds in an upscale neighbourhood into a pulsating hub of activity. As the clock struck 7 pm, the venue teemed with eager fans anticipating this historic face-off. The excitement peaked at 8 p.m., with a coin toss determining the order of performances.
Sheebah kicked off the show, flanked by her dancers, hype person Zahara Toto and the Maestro band. However, her performance fell short; she struggled to harmonize with the band’s brilliance and fans wondered why she chose to sing live, knowing it has always been her weakness.
At one point the audience lost its patience and some started a chant for her departure. Sheebah concluded her first set at 9:42 p.m.
At 9:46 pm, a live band played the national anthem as Cindy made her grand entrance. The mother-of-two commenced her performance with an array of her chart-toppers, ensnaring the audience with her formidable vocals and commanding stage presence.
Cindy, who is comfortable with live bands, had the crowd including Sheebaholics, eating out of the palm of her hand in no time. By 10:08 pm, it was a wrap for her inaugural set. Sheebah returned looking amazing in a white dress with wings, engaging the crowd with more of her popular songs for about 30 minutes, before Cindy reclaimed the spotlight for her second set.
Delivering a powerful performance, she demonstrated her versatility with a medley of songs, including memorable collaborations. The final set saw both artistes on stage, presenting two songs each, blurring the lines between a competition and a standard concert.
Cindy had reserved some of her biggest hits for this round and it was a TKO when her experience, maturity and vocal strength tramped Sheebah’s abrasiveness, poor vocals and a loud hype person (Toto) that added no value to Sheebah’s struggling sets.
Regrettably, the event suffered from inadequate organization, marked by the hype people – they would not qualify to be called hosts or MCs – engaging in lengthy inappropriate banter. DJ Nimrod was Cindy’s hype man.
Ultimately, the crowd, acting as unofficial judges, heaped praise primarily on Cindy, although Sheebah was interestingly crowned the winner as the Ambassador for Victoria University, the event’s organizers.
The spectacle drew to a close at 3 a.m (those poor, distinguished Kololo residents!) and social media started with the memes and jokes, with Sheebah being the brunt of them all.
In a way, it was also a battle between Uganda Musicians Association (UMA), which Cindy headed, and Uganda National Musicians Federation which usurped UMA’s powers and members, headed by Eddy Kenzo and Sheebah. Whichever way you look at it, Friday was sweet victory for the Boom Party singer.