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Rachel Magoola marks 20 years

Twenty years on the music scene was what Rachel Magoola was celebrating on October 14 at Alliance Francaise on Mackinnon road, Nakasero.

It was a blast for the chilly evening and her message was that she is just getting started. Magoola is still determined to leave a bigger mark.

She told The Observer that her plan is to take her music around the globe. In 2002, Magoola left Afrigo band for the UK to push forward a burgeoning music career after her hit single Obangaina , released in the late 1990s.

This song marked her breakthrough as a solo musician. The song dominated the airwaves as it topped the music charts for many weeks, but her stint in the UK until 2007 did not reap as much success.

She says: “Getting a music promoter there was so difficult, yet I wanted to get my music out to the European public.”

She has since returned to the Afrigo band, and each time Obangaina is played at New Club Obbligato, it still gets fans onto the dance floor. This song has overshadowed all the other song she sang.

Nevertheless, her most recent album, Eisadha, is full of punch, rhythm and richness. Coupled with her dancing, she does charm her revellers.

Sue O’Connor, who was at her concert last Friday, told The Observer: “I have not met a musician in Uganda that captures me as much as Rachel does. She can sing so well and engages the audience so much with her fine stage management and balance, as she winds up those watching her.

Rachel can never bore you because her concerts are always full of life.”

Magoola’s music genre is World Music but she prefers to call it Ugandan contemporary music with a blend of both African traditional and a bit of the Western music sounds. Then again, Magoola’s determination to make it internationally leaves a question: Why has it taken her so long, even at home?

There appears to be little appreciation in Uganda for World music, as the Afro-beat genre continues to rule more. Thus in Uganda, Rachel’s woes are not any different from those of talented singers such as Suzan Kerunen, Sarah Ndagire, or even Maurice Kirya. Hannah McCauley, a guest during the concert said the problem is that many Ugandans don’t take time to listen to music.

“All they bother about is the beat, other than the music content and what singers like Rachel sing about. For me, my major interest is the fact that she sings in local dialects and does her music with an authentic African sound. As a foreigner, that is what I would like to listen to – rich music,” said McCauley.

The concert was electric, as Rachel’s fans listened to Eyauni Emali, Vooto, Eisadha and Imbalu; pure masterpieces, they are. Magoola has recorded 72 songs in 20 years and sang in Lusoga, Luganda, Kiswahili, Ateso, Lugweri, Lugisu, Rukiga and Lusamia. That versatility only amplifies the wealth of talent she is and boosts her overall appeal.

Now, she must turn frustration into cheer by getting a top promoter to get her around the world. If she could contend with the fact that her sister was critically ill going into her concert, but she still pulled it off, then celebrating the next 20 years as a world renowned musician like her idols Miria Makeba and Tina Turner, should be within her grasp too.


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