VERSATILE as ever, Isaiah Katumwa, one of Uganda’s leading saxophonists used his recent live recording of his official video concert to share his personal musical challenges and success with his fans.
At the concert held on July 20, 2012, at the Kampala Serena Hotel, Katumwa recorded his old songs and new ones at the event attended by his fans that came from as far as Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania after parting with Ushs100,000 ($40).
Passionately blowing his soprano and alto saxophones, Katumwa took his fans through his musical journey that has not been smooth at all at the show sponsored by Tusker lager beer. He managed to tell his life story before each song right from his time as a struggling unknown musician to a reputable jazziest today.
Katumwa kicked off the two-and-half hour show with one of his latest songs “Swahili Breeze” off his forthcoming album. He described it as smooth Jazz and divine originating from East Africa. “It is important to be original,” he said.
“Africa is my identity even if I am in China I am passionate about not being mistaken through my music. But also am passionate about my God because I wouldn’t be here today, if it wasn’t for him,” he added.
Electrified he welcomed his fans to the Isaiah Katumwa 2012 Exclusively Live show thus: “It has been three years since I last did a concert. Thank you for coming.”
Katumwa then followed it up with his other new song “Journey.” “It is about the hard times and things we go through to arrive where we want,” he told his audience refereeing to his own low and high moments.
Katumwa’s childhood was difficult – he had no permanent home and had to work to raise his school fees. His hardship began with the breakup of his family, leaving him to stay with relatives and fend for himself.
The stages effects included videos with black and white pictures of Katumwa’s childhood and musical journey that began at the age of 10 at the Reverend John Junior Academy in Kitintale, Kampala with traditional instruments and later the trumpet before falling in love with the sax.
As to the importance of the concert, Katumwa told The EastAfrican: “After not doing any concert Kampala for the last three years, there has been demand especial the fact that I was doing it annually. But more importantly I wanted to record my official video.
He was accompanied by Amani Baya (drums), James Sewakiryanga (percussions), Joshua Mutebi (bass guitar), James Gogo (main Keyboard/piano), Steve Kigozi (second Keyboard/piano), Charmant Mushaga (lead guitar), Hum Kay (vocals), Sheila Katumwa (vocals), Rachel Namubiru (vocals), Geoffrey Sekalere (trumpet) and Joseph Ategeka (Alto Sax).
He also played “Suddenly” and “Sun Rise” off his 2009 album “Another Step.” “Sun Rise” is flavoured with rhythms from West Africa and South Africa
Before performing “Arise Afrika” he declared: “We (Africa) should resist circumstances that detect our future. It is time we arise and resist wars, diseases, poverty and all sorts of limitations.”
As he was about to play “Mama” Katumwa said: “I am passionate about Africa despite the problems we are facing. Let us tell mother Africa – the wonder of the world to wake up because we are strong, wealthy and beautiful and can shine and overcome the challenges.”
Katumwa also performed “Kitaffe,” a song he last played in 2007 and never recorded. It has basimba and kadodi rhythms. “This is Our Lord’s prayer in our African way,” he said.
Then there was “Sinza (“worship”) off the 2006 “Sinza” album. “This is the album that brought me to the public attention when I was struggling in the industry. This album pushed me a big step in my career in 2006. This is a clearly gospel song. A chorus that has featured in Pentecostal churches for many years,” he stated.
Mushaga stood out and spiced the show with his great guitar licks much to the delight of the audience.
Katumwa was also joined by Maurice Kirya and Michael Ouma both on guitars and performed Kirya’s ballad “Ugandan Girl.”
Katumwa played “Special Feeling” referring to our intimate feelings. “Love is what we can witness by the special feeling we get inside,” he said.
Katumwa performed “Thank You” dedicated to his amazing fans. He played “Nobody Like you” a love song that reassures the one you love.
Gogo, who was energetic throughout the show on the keyboards, played his song “Kilele.”
Regarding his working with Gogosimo, Katumwa said, “He is more to me a younger brother than a musician friend. He is a great guy to work with.”
Katumwa has developed a programme to help talented young musicians under his Parapanda Music EA label.
A promising young singer Rachael Namubiru sang “Tata Nzize” a song written by Katumwa. It is a prayer to God for help.
Hum Kay performed one of his songs called “Why Don’t You Love Me” off his “Olinange” album.
Asked whether the sponsorship from Tusker larger beer was not conflicting with his strong Christian beliefs, he argued: “I am a musician professionally and that is what Tusker is interested in supporting. That doesn’t change who I am, African, smooth and divine.”
He adds that his relationship with Tusker has not caused problems with his fans.
He has promised to release his tenth album next year. Asked whether releasing his albums at a fast rate is not going to affect the quality of his music, Katumwa replied: “I have improved my content through this time and my rising opportunities demand better. Many of my albums also are off the market waiting to be improved.”