Friday, October 16, 2015



MUSIC lovers were taken on a trip down memory lane with pleasant old material by two American greats - the Jazz legend Kirk Whalum and the R&B and soul diva Karyn White at the 8th annual Nile Gold Jazz Safari that was held at the Kampala Serena Hotel on October 2, 2015.

Whalum hit the stage at 8:35pm with Luther Vandross’s 1988 hit Any Love. With his saxo-jazz-funk style he followed it up with Boyz II Men’s I’ll Make Love To You, Steve Wonder’s All I Do, Toni Braxton’s Breathe Again, Ascension, Underpaid, Grover Worked and Falling in Love with Jesus, among others.

Whalum joined the US-based Ugandan guitarist Mpambara on his song Onowuliranga.

Whalum exhibited his mastery of the tenor sax while he played I’ll Always Love You – a hit he originally did with Whitney Houston in 2000. He received a standing ovation after he blew the sax with passion and skill much to the satisfaction of the audience who had parted with Ushs200, 000 ($53.8) for a ticket. He had earlier on mesmerized his fans when he played the sax while lying down on his back.  

White came on stage at 10:18pm with her hit The Way I Feel About You. With her energetic dance moves and distinctive sultry soul voice she followed it up with Secret Rendezvous, James Brown’s funk song Sex Machine, Romantic, Love Saw It, Tears of Joy with Whalum blowing the sax, Hungah, The Way You Love Me, Can I Stay With You and I'd Rather Be Alone, among others.

White received the loudest applause when she played the women’s anthem Superwoman – after which she left the stage at 11:23pm but the crowd cried out to her and returned and bowed out after performing Everything Is Gonna Be Alright.

Among the House Band members that backed the two jazz and soul headliners were: Karl Vanden Bossche on percussions; Mark Walker on the keys; and the sweet harmonies were sung by Vula Malinga and Vanessa Haynes (the Lead Singer in Incognito). The illustrious Mo Pleasure was the music director.

The Ugandan pianist, singer-songwriter Stephen Kigozi was the curtain raiser at 8:07pm with a couple of cover songs and his own Don’t Try to Change Me, among others.

“This is my first time on the soil of Africa. It feels amazing and spiritual as well as celebratory,” White said.

On his part Whalum has performed in South Africa, Ghana and will play in Nigeria this October.

Music lovers today prefer to download music from the Internet and sometimes do not pay for it; a trend which Whalum says has a huge impact on the musicians’ royalties. “Until we are able to negotiate fair streaming royalties we are basically giving away our art for free. People don’t value the things they get for free. Music streaming can only be fair if we can be well compensated.”

As a result of low album sales most musicians around the world have resorted to constant live performances and festivals - a trend that is impacting on their creativity in the long run. “It is a good thing to be in good contact with your audiences but you may not be able to allocate adequate time for developing, writing, recording and work shopping (testing different sounds) if you are on stage all the time. Our source of income should be from royalties. We should stay at home and earn from our music and be creative,” Whalum told this blog.

“We are depending on live performances because people no longer buy our records. I am promoting my brand of music through live concerts and on my own label Karyn White Enterprises. When I am performing live I want my fans to feel my new music and experience. I am glad that I can still perform,” White said.

Born on July 11, 1958, Whalum is a smooth jazz saxophonist and songwriter. His music has been described as soulful, passionate and stirring - ranging from pop to R&B to smooth jazz to gospel with emphasis on melody.

“My music is made up of soul, gospel and jazz. I don’t combine these genres. This is where I come from. It is like describing the aspects of the work of a sculptor where you have to look at through different angles. So these are the aspects of what I do,” Whalum said.

He toured with Whitney Houston for more than seven years and soloed in her mega-hit single I Will Always Love You, the best-selling single by a female artist in music history.

In a career spanning three decades, Whalum has recorded film soundtracks and 25 solo albums including Cache, his first number 1 album, For You and his eclectic Gospel According to Jazz series, (Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4). Chapter 4 musically explores the convergence of jazz and gospel infused with rhythm and blues with musical messages of tribute, tragedy and triumph — musically illustrating God’s radical hospitality.

Whalum has received numerous awards and acknowledgements for his musical accomplishments. A twelve time Grammy nominee, he won his first Grammy award for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do” - featuring Lalah Hathaway).

Although Whalum plays the tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, and flute he says the tenor is his best. And he is clearly identified by his rich tenor sound that leaves an indelible imprint on the listener. “Although I play the soprano as well the tenor sax is my favourite because it’s my voice.”  

White was born on October 14, 1965, in Los Angeles. She is a singer-songwriter, who was popular during the late 1980s and early 1990s. She is best known for her R&B singles: The Way You Love Me (1988), Secret Rendezvous (1989), the Billboard Hot 100 number one single Romantic (1991), Can I Stay With You (1995) and I'd Rather Be Alone (1995).

The accomplished musician entered the music history books with her smash hit song, the female anthem, Superwoman. The song sold over a million units, being certified Gold and named the Billboard R&B Song of the Year in 1989. She received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (Superwoman) in 1990. “This is a timeless anthem for women. It’s about loving and appreciating someone,” she says.

White, who plays R&B, soul and new jack swing released her self-titled debut album Karyn White in 1988. Her follow-up albums were Ritual of Love in 1991, Make Him Do Right in 1994.

“I would say that I play R&B, funk, soul and rock. I have two sides: the dance side and romantic side that I fuse together. I love Prince, Tina Turner and James Brown so I bring the energy of all these three,” White said.

White temporarily left the music scene in 1999 to start a family and bring up her daughter and only child Ashley – which the nomadic lifestyle of a professional musician could not afford. She returned with her album Sista Sista in 2006 and later Carpe Diem in 2012.

White’s considerable talents have extended well beyond music. She resides in Rocklin, California, where she runs a successful interior design and real estate business.


Friday, October 2, 2015



MOSES Ssali whose stage name is Bebe Cool and one of Uganda’s active pop musicians is optimistic that the local music industry will bear dividends in the next two decades.

“Our music is so competitive and getting better each other day. But the fruits will be visible in the next 20 years for those that can sustain it. This is because it is a new industry and any new industry needs time to start realizing from it,” Ssali, the 38-year-old music star said.

Ssali, who is also known as Big Size is a singer-songwriter, band leader, record producer and actor.

Although he is referred to as one of the leading African reggae and ragga musicians from Uganda, Ssali insists that he is a jack of all trade in the musical genres.  “My music is confused because I play all the types and styles depending on where I am and the audience that I am performing for,” he says.

He started his career around 1996 in Nairobi, Kenya, but a few years later relocated to Uganda. He was one of the first artists affiliated with Ogopa DJs, a production house and record label in Kenya.

Ssali, who sings in Luganda, Swahili, and English rose to music stardom with his collabos Funtula with Bobi Wine and later Mambo Mingi with Halima Namakula. Some of his popular singles are Fitina, King of the Jungle and Never Trust No People.

His highly acclaimed Go Mama album released in June 2015 has songs like Go Mama, Love You Everyday, Everywhere I Go, Byebyo, African Girl, among others.

His Love You Everyday song was nominated at the recent prestigious 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) in the Video of the Year category.

He says he has been doing singles ever since and if he was to compile them into albums they would add up to more than ten albums.

As to why he started a band and did not continue with CD backed lyrics that he began his career with, Ssali said: “Music grows as we grow and the delivery has to change as well. And it has to suit the age. I knew age would not allow me to jump around to track music of CD music, so I had to start slowly building my Gagamel band 15 years ago.”

Ssali named his band and his company Gagamel International after his the Jamaican music mentor Buju Banton alas Gargamel. “At the time when I was a youth Buju Banton delivered music that made a lot of sense to me in a different style that I had not heard before. So I got interested in him and music,” he said.

On August 7, 2015, he held Friends of Bebe Cool Concert at the Serena Kampala Hotel Victoria Hall.

Ssali was the headline act at the 2015 Viva con Agua (VcA) concert held at the National Theatre in Kampala on February 28, 2015. The proceeds went towards providing clean water for people in Northern Uganda.

“I believe in projects that have an attachment to the local people. There are people living in discomfort and if this project can bring change then I am glad to be part of it. I believe in charity and water and sanitation are very serious issues in Uganda,” Ssali said.

Ssali is among the best decorated Ugandan musicians. He won the Video of the Year award at the 2007Channel O Music Video Awards. He scooped several prizes at the Ugandan defunct Pearl of Africa Music Awards (PAM Awards) including Best Reggae Artiste/Group 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, among others.

He has also won 14 accolades at the HiPipo Music Awards including: Best Reggae Song with Rema (Missing You) 2013; and Artist of the Year 2013, among others.

He has been nominated for several awards including the Kora All-African Awards in 2003 and 2005.

He has performed in the UK and the US, among others. He has featured in the Big Brother house twice.

Together with Kenyan duo Necessary Noize, Ssali formed a reggae group known as the East African Bashment Crew. They released one album, Fire that has two hit singles, Africa Unite and Fire. The group was nominated at the inaugural MTV Africa Music Awards in 2008.

Ssali survived the bomb blasts set by Somali Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab at the Kyadondo Rugby Club in Kampala on July 11, 2010.

“It was basically total luck that I survived the bombs. I was not supposed to be there then the first bomb went off two rows behind me. The second one exploded 45 seconds later. As I crawled out I saw very many dead young people that I had never seen in my life. That is a picture that will not go away from my mind,” he says.

He shared the stage with several international stars at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday party that was dubbed “The 46664 Concert” in Hyde Park, London in England in June 2008. The underlying motive of the 46664 charity concert was to combat HIV/Aids, through 46664, the charity named after his Robben Island prison number that Mandela established in 2002.

“Performing at Mandela’s birthday was the biggest achievement any artist can ever have because it happened once and never again. He is a legend whose life is celebrated across the world today. We shall never get such a man or icon in our life time. So it was a pleasure for me for having been part of that birthday event,” Ssali says.

Born on September 1, 1977 in Kampala, Ssali is married to Zuena Kirema a television presenter, model and former Miss Uganda contestant. They have three children; two sons and a daughter, Alpha Thierry, Beata and Caysan respectively.