Orphaned and homeless, Eddy Kenzo used to struggle to persuade DJs to play his songs, but Uganda’s first Grammy contender said his success offers hope that even the poorest person can triumph.
Nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Global Music Performance, Kenzo — whose real name is Edrisah Musuuza — said the news left him “speechless”.
“I can’t express my feelings. It is like I am dreaming,” the 33-year-old told AFP during an emotional interview in his studio in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
“This nomination should give hope to the underprivileged,” he said.
“Even the poorest and the humblest can make it… if I made it, they can make it as well.”
Born to a Ugandan father and a Rwandan mother whose family were among the victims of the 1994 genocide, Kenzo’s childhood was scarred by tragedy after he lost both his parents to illness.
He was just four years old.
By the time Kenzo was a teenager, he was sleeping rough on the streets of Kampala, often going to bed hungry.
“I suffered as a kid,” he said.
His love of sports and music kept him going and by 2008, he had scraped together the funds to get off the streets and release his first song — “Yannimba” (“Deceived me” in the Luganda language).
– ‘Make people happy’ –
But he continued to face an uphill battle, with no financial backing and radio DJs scoffing at his requests to play his tracks on air.
Two years after his debut though, he struck gold with the single “Stamina”, which grew to dominate airwaves and became a staple at private parties and discotheques.
In 2011, he won the Best New Artist award at the Pearl of Africa Music Awards.
His global profile rose with the release in 2014 of “Sitya Loss” (“I Don’t Fear Loss”) — a peppy number that harked back to his traumatic childhood and trumpeted the power of resilience.
“My dream was to make people happy, when someone dances he or she becomes happy, feels good, laughs, feels loved, shakes off stress and forgets depressing issues of the world,” he said.
“I also wanted to become a beacon of hope for those in despair that regardless of their current predicament, anyone can make it in life.”
In the intervening years, he went on to win several prizes for his blend of dancehall and Afrobeat, including a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award in 2018, a BET Award in 2015, and multiple All Africa Music Awards.
And now he could take home a Grammy for “Gimme Love”, his 2022 Luganda-English collaboration with US musician Matt B, when the winners are announced on February 5.
He is facing off against Nigerian Afropop musician Burna Boy among others for the prize.
“If I win, it is an honour to my fans, my culture and all those that have touched my life,” said Kenzo, who is looking forward to attending the star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles.
– Mentoring musicians –
Despite his meteoric rise, the father of two hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings and said he is keen to pave the way for others like him.
As founder of Big Talent Entertainment, a studio located in a densely populated and poor Kampala neighbourhood, he trains and mentors boys and girls from nearby slums to develop their musical talent.
On the day AFP visited, around a dozen children on a break from music practice helped themselves to rice, beef, green vegetables and groundnut stew, wheeled in on huge metal platters.
It’s a long way from the glitz and glamour of the Grammys but Kenzo said he is determined not to let international success change him.
For one thing, he plans to keep producing music in Luganda, despite English offering a wider audience.
“I want to promote my culture and country through music,” he said.
“Not that I can’t sing in English but I want to be who I am.”
Alaafin’s Estranged Wife, Queen Dami Defends Her Lover, Portable Over Assault Allegations By Young Duu
Queen Dami, the estranged wife of Controversial singer, Habeeb Okikiola better known as Portable has defended him against his former signee, Young Duu.
The upcoming singer had alleged that the Zazu crooner sent his “boys” to assault him, and was badly hurt by the attackers.
Reacting to his allegation, Queen Dami, via her Instagram page, shared a press statement by Portable’s management debunking the allegations.
His management stated that his allegations were without any substance and were deliberately designed to tarnish Portable’s reputation.
According to his management, Portable is in a good state and is preparing for his Tour in Russia and the UK.
Read the press statement below,
Since leaving his label, Portable and Young Duu have been at war with both parties laying strong allegations against each other. Portable had branded Young Duu as “bad luck,” blaming him for the misfortunes that had befallen the record label.
He also further accused Young Duu of being ungrateful, particularly because Portable had generously purchased a car for him.
Portable also claimed that Young Duu harbored jealousy whenever good things happened to other members of the record label.
Queen Dami defending her lover isn’t surprising as the singer has stood up for her since they started dating.
Months back, Portable had shown how much he loves Queen Dami by defending her against actor, Lege Miami, who exposed the former Queen’s desperation for love.
Lege Miami stated that he was still looking for a suitor for Dami when he learned of her romance with Portable and when he confronted her, she denied it at first.
With evidence, Portable slammed Lege, as he exposed the actor for begging for money from his wife.
Recall that the street singer and father of five confirmed his affair with the Queen after controversial blogger Gist Lover alleged that the mother of one is in a relationship with Portable by sharing screenshots of their comments.
Speaking about their relationship, Portable stated that Queen Dami, was only a fan before the death of her husband, the King.
According to him, things switched up from there as he wasn’t one to have an affair with people’s wives.
‘My Ex Is Getting Married To My Friend’ – Tonto Dikeh
Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh has revealed that her estranged lover is set to marry her friend.
The thespian said her ex deserves the joy of marriage, explaining that she almost made him “run mad” when they were dating.
Dikeh said she still loves her ex and friend who are getting married, as she emphasized that she was booked to attend their wedding.
She, however, said she needed a personal assistant because she was finding it difficult to select an outfit for the wedding.
The mother of one explained that if she doesn’t make it to the wedding, she would be seen as a bitter ex.
On Friday night, Dikeh wrote via her Instagram page: “I honestly need a PA, My ex is getting married to my friend tomorrow.
“I totally forgot; I don’t have any outfit, I love them both.
“He honestly deserves this happiness because I almost made that man run mad.
“If I don’t make this wedding, I’ll be seen as a bitter ex, plus I was paid to be there.
“I need an outfit.”
DAILY POST recalls that Tonto Dikeh got married to businessman Olakunle Churchill in 2015, and the union was blessed with a son.
Their marriage, however, hit the rocks in 2017, following a series of heated quarrels and “irreconcilable” differences.
I Cried When Prison Uniform Was Handed Over To Me – Tems Speaks On Jail Time In Uganda
Tems was completely disconnected from the world during the detention and found herself striving to adapt to being in prison rather quickly.
Nigerian singer Tems has shed more light on her experience in the Ugandan prison where she was detained for two days in 2020, alongside Omah Lay, after being charged in court.
Speaking during an interview with Angie Martinez, she detailed her experience in the small dingy prison starting from when she was picked up from her hotel.
For the singer, she thought it was a joke at first but when she got to the prison and was handed her uniform, things became all too real and she cried.
Tems said, “I thought I wasn’t gonna come out. I thought I was seeing it for a reason like maybe I was meant to help the people. I was settling in because I adapted real quick and as I was walking in I started to cry because they gave me my uniform and it stunk because they don’t wash it. It was a small room and there was nothing, there’s just the floor they give you blankets and tissues and you’re just on the floor, no bed and I did it for two days. I didn’t even know I was going to get out, I didn’t have any ears on the ground nobody told me anything. Outside everyone was like ‘free Tems, free Omah lay but inside I was just hopeful, waiting.”
Even though she remained hopeful, she did not think she would be able to get out soon. Tems noted that the women she bonded with in the prisons were practically locked up for the most trivial things, and some were kept in by guards who were paid to do so. The prison structure was so that the inmates could not make phone calls unless they had money and she had no money.
The singer noted that she amused the ladies at the prison by winking at them when they stared at her when she walked in. Why was she winking? Nerves, she explained, to adapt quickly and most importantly, to avoid crying.
She said to Martinez, “Once I walked in everyone turned and looked at me and whispering and I was like ‘what have I done? I can’t cry’ and I just started winking, that was my way of adapting. I must show these people that I’m confident so I started being extra winking and saying hi and they were laughing.”
The woman in charge of the women’s prisons went to her to explain the rules and regulations, as well as the repercussions of breaking the rules. The apex punishment was solitary confinement in a small store with no food or water. She was told that she had to kneel to speak to officials and they were fed only once a day. During the two days spent in the prison, she didn’t eat and continued sipping water every day.
On the night of December 12, 2020, Omah Lay and Tems performed at The Big Brunch, which was held at Speke Resort, Wavamunno Road, Kampala, Uganda. After their performance, they were charged to court by the Uganda police for flouting COVID-19 guidelines after lockdown.
Back in Nigeria, all hands were on deck trying to secure Tems and Omah Lay’s immediate release. Her manager’s dad went to the capital, Abuja to see then President Buhari to have the issue sorted and soon enough they were released and sent back home.