UGANDA GRAMMY NOMINEE EDDY KENZO TRIUMPHS OVER TRAGEDY
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.”
WHY I LOVE NEYMAR MORE THAN MESSI, RONALDO – ACTRESS EGUAVOEN
Nollywood actress Angela Eguavoen, in this interview with PETER AKINBO, talks about her sports life, love for Neymar, ‘relationship’ with 1994 AFCON winner and ex-Eagles coach Austin Eguavoen, and more
Did any sport catch your fancy while you were growing up?
Oh yes, that was back then, when I was in Paradise Schools in Benin City. At the inter-house sports, I used to participate in a lot of sporting activities. I loved swimming especially, but I also ran races and the sack races were fun to take part in because you would try your hardest not to fall, but the sack will do its best to bring you down. I did not win many medals for the school, but I really liked to participate in a lot of extracurricular activities.
Why do you love swimming?
I was best at swimming. I just love to swim because it is a sport that deals with every part of the body, so, I just gravitated towards swimming more. Now, I still participate in swimming more than any other sport.
Did your parents encourage swimming back then or were they more interested in your academic pursuit?
My parents are the kind of people that never discourage anyone from doing anything. They don’t tell you to stop or not pursue a particular interest, so, I always had the support from them and even when I later started participating in cultural activities, which led to my love for the theatre and acting.
Nowadays, do you still participate in any sporting activities?
Yes, I do a lot of walks, oftentimes throughout my estate and I use my jump ropes a lot in my house. I also encourage everyone around me to take a walk because it may seem little, but it does a lot for your body.
What sport do you watch now for entertainment?
It’s only football and that is because of my man, he likes football too much and he is now influencing me also to watch.
Do you have a favourite footballer?
I like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo but I love Neymar, he is my favourite.
Why is Neymar your favourite?
He is a very good footballer and he is good-looking and highly talented. He is loaded with a lot of good attributes.
Do you follow the Super Eagles?
Yes, I do and Victor Osimhen is my favourite player in the team. He is doing very well in Europe but I am not sure if only Osimhen will be able to carry the Eagles all the way. Hopefully, he is the missing link we need to do better. I am very proud of all that he is doing in Europe. Anyone putting Nigeria on the map, wherever you are, footballer, actor or a musician, as long you keep putting Nigeria on the map, I am always proud of whoever that person is because when you are winning, we are all winning.
How did you feel when the Eagles couldn’t qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?
I was heartbroken, I was embarrassed. At this point, anything that has to do with Nigeria, I don’t put my hopes too high, so, I don’t end up getting disappointed. As they didn’t qualify, I didn’t take it to heart because it is Nigeria. I hope we can qualify for the next one now though, because I am impressed with the amount of talenyt in that team now and I believe Nigerians can succeed at whatever we put our hearts to do. See the way the music industry is booming now all around the world. It will be impressive if the football part of Nigeria can get all over the world. I don’t think it is impossible for us to win the World Cup.
So what country did you support at the World Cup since Nigeria was absent?
Morocco. I really wanted them to win because they are Africans and also because they played very good football at the tournament.
Do you think there is anything that can be done to make sports in Nigeria better organised?
First of all, with the type of government we have in Nigeria, that doesn’t focus on proper training, they need to first deal with that aspect. The only thing Nigeria has gotten right when it comes to our football is the jerseys, the designs are always on point and so beautiful. So, they should make the training environment for the athletes beautiful too, and pay them very well and let them have good health insurance. I feel with these things, it is going to be way better and the players will actually be able to play really good football, both the male and female teams.
How far do you think the Super Falcons can go at the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup?
I am very very proud of them for qualifying and I will definitely watch them at the tournament. I feel they should be able to do well. If the environment is conducive for them, they should be able to do really well.
So who is your favourite Nigerian footballer of all time?
Mikel Obi is my favourite footballer of all time and he even influenced my support for Chelsea. It is a Nigerian thing to always support our own.
Your last name, Eguavoen, is same as that of former Super Eagles captain and coach Austin Eguavoen. Are you both related?
I am not related to him, and I have been asked many times, so, it is now a normal thing for me. We are from the same state, so, there is a possibility of a relation but none that I know of. I wasn’t really following football when he played, so, I don’t know much of his playing days but we talk on socials, we follow each other on social media but have never met.
Will you invest in your children who intend pursuing a sports career?
I will one hundred per cent because there is so much money in sports right now, and I love it. I love how it exposes you to the world and it feels like once you are there, you can be sorted. I just love everything about sports, and for the fact that there is so much money in it and it is a convenient thing to do. Of course, if any of my children have interest in it and they love it, I would support them.
SPOTIFY UNVEILS NEW FEATURES FOR ARTISTES, PODCASTERS, MUSIC CREATORS
Spotify, an online streaming platform, held its 2023 “Stream On” programme, unveiling features and tools to build career of artistes, podcasters and music creators.
Daniel EK, Spotify’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), during the virtual programme said this was necessary to aid deeper and long-lasting connections between music creators and listeners across the globe.
He said Spotify doubled down on discovery, revealing a reimagined interface that leverages new visuals and a completely new and interactive design.
According to him, one of the features which is the “new Spotify experience” will roll out in waves beginning today to over 500 million monthly active users of Spotify.
He noted that with “Smart Shuffle”, Spotify was introducing a new way to inject new music that perfectly complements an existing playlist with just the tap of a button.
He said building on the success of podcast previews, creators can choose or have Spotify automatically generate preview of their music and podcasts for users to sample before they play or save.
“Just like with music, Spotify will now serve autoplay for podcasts. When a podcast ends, another episode will automatically start playing that fits the user’s tastes and is relevant.
“Stream On is about all the ways we are bringing Spotify to life and letting creators at all stages of their careers know that we are open for business.
“We are focused on building the best home for them – a place where they can establish a career, thrive and grow and where the world can be inspired by their creativity.
“And that is what we have been doing for almost 17 years: building, improving and reimagining this home to better meet creator needs and help them chart new pathways to success.
“As we look to the future, we are excited to expand that ambition to even more creators across new formats.
“We are enabling more creativity, discovery and personalisation than ever before by providing the best resources, support, and interactivity,” he said.
The CEO also unveiled new and enhanced tools to help creators build and grow audiences which would help artistes find the fans who will love their music most.
He shared more details on the next revenue line to help artistes grow – merchandise and live.
He also announced the rollout of additional podcast features.
“Spotify for podcasters now brings together the best of Spotify’s podcast creator tools into a one-stop shop to create, manage, grow and monetise podcast content.
“Previously, Spotify’s most innovative features were limited to anchor users exclusively, but the company is building the new Spotify for podcasters in a way that offers more open access to innovation.
“As a result, all Spotify for Podcasters users—including those not hosting their content on Spotify, will find access to Question and Answer and Poll functionality in their dashboards.
“Starting today, when all creators sign up or log in to Spotify for Podcasters, they will find a dashboard with everything they need to make, manage, and level-up their show,” he said.
He also announced new and expanded Spotify Originals and Exclusives.
“Spotify and DC Comics will launch a new podcast series, The Riddler: Secrets in the Dark which will be led by Phantom 4 and filmmaker, novelist, and comic book writer, David S. Goyer.
“Fans can expect all of the beloved characters from the “Batman Unburied” series.
“Today, there are more than ten million creators on Spotify with over half a billion listeners across 184 countries and markets.
“Think about the massive potential that represents for creators. No matter where you are on your own creative journey within music, podcasts or audiobooks.
“The potential to reach half a billion people. And that reach is about to become more powerful with what we’ve introduced today,” he said.
Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s Co-President and Chief Product and Technology Officer, said , “Spotify recommendations drive close to half of all users’ streams. And when listeners decide to follow a creator, they listen to, on average, five times more of their music.
“That’s why discoveries on Spotify, unlike many other platforms, give creators so much more than just a fleeting moment of viral fame.
“Those meaningful, long-term connections are a key part of what makes Spotify a platform for professional and aspiring artistes”. (NAN)
FUNKE AKINDELE BREAKS SILENCE AFTER LOSING POLLS
Ms Akindele was the running mate to the PDP Governorship candidate, Olajide ‘Jandor’ Adeniran.
Nollywood actress turned politician Funke Akindele has finally spoken up after losing the elections held on Saturday.
INEC’s Returning officer Adenike Oladiji, who announced the result, said incident Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu secured 762,134 votes against his primary challenger Olajide ‘Jandor’ Adediran of the PDP, who polled 62,449 and, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the LP, who got 312,329 votes.
Ms Akindele, the running mate to the PDP Governorship candidate, Jandor, addressed the public after their loss.
Beginning her address, she described her first attempt at a political journey as a fantastic run.
“It has been an amazing and insightful experience on my journey to the ballot, and I must say, it was an absolute learning curve for me. A lot of things have been learned and unlearned. I sincerely do not regret taking this huge step of running for office,” she wrote.
Giving her first vote of thanks, she addressed her supporters and acknowledged those against her.
She said, “I, therefore, want to thank the people of Lagos state for believing in me and supporting my decision to run for office. I saw every message of support online and offline; I heard of all the places where people supported me and challenged those who tried to discredit me.
“I remember every warm welcome during our campaign tour and the faith you all showed in me. The elections might not have panned out as we hoped, but it was an honourable run for us. We fought a good fight indeed,” she added.
Ms Akindele, who is also a graduate of law from the University of Lagos, also encouraged those who meant well to exercise their civil rights, urging them not to choose the path of apathy.
“I also want to encourage all who mean well for the Nation and the state of Lagos not to give up. I understand that some of us are beginning to develop apathy towards the system; however, if we do not speak, we will never be heard. I’m glad that we could at least speak up,” she said
Ending her address, she thanked her supporters and promised to continue advocating for Lagosians.
“Thank you once again, Lagos, for showing your daughter support. As I consider my next moves in life, I will continue prioritising the good of the people and the integrity of my position as an advocate for the people. Eko oni baje !” She wrote.
The actress cum film producer deleted all politically related posts from her Instagram page.
The actress also unfollowed her ex-husband AbdulRasheed Bello aka JJC Skillz, on Instagram.
Reacting to the actress’s address, many commended her spirit of sportsmanship even when she did not congratulate the winners of the governorship race.
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