Joe Kahirimbanyi is mostly known as a frontman for one of Uganda’s finest bands, Qwela.
Well, last week he shocked many of us when he released a solo project titled Kahiri; the limited edition has only five songs but has a wide range of collaborators including Rated Next’s protégé Kenneth Mugabi, Qwela bandmate, Ian Busingye, BB Omuwanvu-Wanvu as well as the legendary Moses Matovu, among others.
The album listening party was held on Sunday at Jazzville in Bugolobi, and he enjoyed some fan base loyalty from those that have followed Qwela’s music through the years. At the party, Kahirimbanyi played some of the songs off the album and threw in bonus music that is not on the collection.
Backed by three instrumentalists, he set the ball rolling with Kaz Kasozi on the bass guitar, Giovanni Kiyingi on congas and Roy Kasiga on the drums – what more could one ask for?
The album’s theme is mainly about Kahirimbanyi introducing himself as an independent creator of art; yes, we have known him as a member of Qwela, but on Kahiri you listen to a man tell his story in ways he probably could not with the band.
On Sayuni, a single he dedicated to his mother who was in the audience, he sings about a brother he lost and looks forward to meeting him in a better place. The album also has Owu Ndikwenda where he exploits his Kikiga background to celebrate the gift of music.
The limited edition only features a few songs in his language, although his performance on Sunday celebrated his heritage more; the dances, drumbeats and that hip hop cypher by Ruyonga and Quera-os were quite a highlight.
The best song on the CD features Kenneth Mugabi, but unfortunately the young vocalist could not join Kahirimbanyi to do Sikyagenda on stage. The vacuum was, however, perfectly filled by Awinyo and Nkwagala.
Awinyo is strong on afro beats; one simply cannot help but dance and sing along to that yummy chorus – “you’re mixing me like katogo…”
Photocopy was quite indicting especially to the local music industry, which the singer attacked through the lyrics for copying almost everything from the dances, styles, accents and beats. Before the encore of Awinyo, the artiste surprised the house with a surprise appearance of Moses Matovu who indeed did a spectacular job on Nkwagala.
As the show wound up, it was clear, Kahirimbanyi had successfully launched his blend of African rhythms into Ugandan music lovers’ hearts. What this means for a band that has seen exits from the likes of Mo Roots, Tamba and Brian Mugenyi, is yet to be seen.