The identity of Ugandan music has been questionable for a very long time.
Some critics have constantly argued that the absence of our own identifiable genre could be the reason our music is not scaling to the levels of our counterparts in Nigeria, South Africa or Tanzania that are easily noticeable with their Afro-beat/Hi life, Kwaito and Bongo flavor respectively.
During his performance at the just-concluded Blankets and Wine, folklore artiste Giovanni Kremer Kiyingi told the crowd that people who keep arguing that our music doesn’t have an identity are not well-researched. “Our music is the xylophone, drums, tube fiddle and all our traditional instruments,” he said.
And it’s basically the reason of identity that the Pearl Rhythm festival was formed in 2012. Originally, according to one of the founders, Suzan Kerunen, the festival was to give stage to a Ugandan sound that was mostly unique to Uganda or Africa; a sound that you might hardly find on radio stations and concerts.
In fact, the festival’s first edition was graced by the likes of Joel Sebunjo, Qwela band, Kerunen herself and Karim Ssaava, among others. However, after a scarcity of artistes during the second edition, they had to enlarge their mission concept and include developing talents of acts with authentic music.
This influenced the birth of the Stage Coach programme in 2014. The aim was to use the festival as an eco-system to identify and groom artistes that could eventually be booked by other festivals around the region.
Pearl Rhythm festival has so far produced artistes such as Kiyingi, Ann Nassanga alias Afrie, Undercover Brothers, Raymond Parwot and Haka Mukiga, among others.
The festival will be taking place at the National theatre tomorrow. Numerous young and old artistes have been named to join this year’s Stage Coach discoveries.
The lineup features artistes Myko Ouma, Lilly Kadima, Happy Kyazze, Baximba Waves, Sylvester & Abramz and dancer Faizal Ddamba Mostrixx. They will be joined by the 2016 Stage Coach finalists—Jaq Deweyi, Derrick Komakech, Wake and the Bantu Clan.
Besides music, the festival has partnered with eWaAfrika to set up a special exhibition from 10am to 2pm, curated specifically for the youths. It is organised under the theme: ‘Rebranding Uganda Starts With Me’.
The topics for discussion will include: How does hair brand us? The evolution of African hair over generations and How African hair creates identity for us. Of course, the session is supported by Natural Hair Uganda movement which showcases natural hair products.
The festival starts at 9am with different activities. Performances will kick off at 6pm and tickets cost Shs 20,000.