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Melody Uganda’s music fuses several African genres to deliver message of positivity

By Sampad Nov11,2023
Melody Uganda band performing at the International Indie Music Festival at the Kerala Arts and Craft Village 

Melody Uganda band performing at the International Indie Music Festival at the Kerala Arts and Craft Village 
| Photo Credit: S.R. Praveen

Melody Uganda carries their country’s name as part of their band, but all through their performance at the ongoing International Indie Music Festival (IIMF) at the Kerala Arts and Craft Village and their conversations, they strive for a wider representation of the entire African continent. It is a band which makes it hard for us to pin it down to one particular genre, switching seamlessly from Afropop to smatterings of reggae or folk and with influences of Congolese rumba.

Their sound speaks of the varied influences of each of the members with Kakooza Manson, the frontman and founder of the band, brings in his roots in reggae and Afropop, while drummer and music programmer Rako has folkish influences and guitarist Erick, a Ugandan citizen of Congolese origin has his rumba influences. At their home town Kampala, they all stay in the same neighbourhood.

“All of us have been friends for quite a long time, but I was performing solo until two years ago. Then, we decided to come together and create something which has the mark of all our influences. We don’t focus on one genre of music so long as we deliver our message laced with positivity and love. Even here in India, we are learning quite a lot of things we want to go back and bring into our music,” says Manson, in an interview to The Hindu.

Melody Uganda band with their crew

Melody Uganda band with their crew
| Photo Credit:
S.R. Praveen

Manson, who also writes lyrics for other artistes, says that he grew up listening to his mother, who used to be a regular singer at the church choir. In 2013, he ran for a music competition to promote ghetto talents and won it. Much of his original lyrics is in Lugandan and English, but in the band’s concerts, they include a few songs representing all the regions of Africa.

“I would love to sing in one Indian language that would be easier for me, but I was told Kerala’s language Malayalam is very tough,” he says.

Among the artistes who have inspired them are Jose Chameleone and the Afrigo Band, who were at one time the favourites of the ousted Ugandan President Idi Amin.

Though they are at a good place with their music, the band members all do other work for their daily survival. Manson does farming and videography work, while Rako creates crafty hip bags and works as an audio producer.

“Our government has not done much to help the music industry. However, we musicians stick together as a community and form a joint voice, which can be of help to others too. The government is striving to improve the lot of children living on the streets. Some of these children might possess musical talents. Government should  nurture the talents of these children, who can in turn uplift many,” says Manson. 

By Sampad

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