Layer 2

More About the Artists of KigaliUp! 2011

Tom Close Ugandan-born Thomas Muyombo is Rwanda’s most prominent R&B musician. He’s a songwriter, singer, author, illustrator and actor who got his start in church choirs and then with the Afro-Saints group.

Holy Jah Doves
These Rasta ambassadors have been working together for six years to create a genuine, original Rwandan sound. It’s a surprising and fresh mash-up of reggae and Rwandan traditional music, delivered with a bold, brash energy that carries a strong message.

Lokua Kanza
Based in France, this Congolese-born guitarist began his career in rumba bands, later becoming interested in traditional music, joining the Kinshasa conservatoire of music and studying jazz and modern music in Europe. Over his 20-year career, he’s worked with Abeti, Ray Lema and Manu Dibango, among others. Kanza’s notoriety spread widely before the release of his first album and his soulful melancholy acoustic music has swept away clichés around music from the former Zaire, with its rumba and diabolical Soukous rhythms. Kanza is a multi-lingual, multi-talented singer, composer and arranger who has helped kick-start African music’s renewal.

Burundian master drummer, composer, arranger and singer Jean Pierre Nimbona, fondly known as Kidum, is a Nairobi-based artist whose infectious tunes have hooked legions of East African fans. In Burundi, Kidum is an icon of hope and reconciliation; in neighbouring Rwanda, he is recognized as the ‘homeboy.’

His secular-but-spiritual songs range from rocking zouk to acoustic classics, all featuring his vocal prowess. This is absolutely cool music from a musician who is ahead of his contemporaries as a composer and singer.

Kitoko is an Afrobeat and Dancehall-influenced star known for his husky voice, hit song ‘Ikiragi’ and collaborations with other East African artists, including Blue3′s Lillian Mbabazi.

Mighty Popo
A Burundi-born Rwandan who splits his time between Canada and Rwanda, Mighty Popo is the pioneer of a sound he dubs “world blues.” A poet, dreamer and natural storyteller, he creates songs that span Africa’s diverse styles. He has earned acclaim as a member of the Juno-Award winning African/Canadian super group African Guitar Summit, released 3 solo albums, the latest of which, Gakondo, garnered a Canadian Juno nomination. This album plunges deep into his Rwandan roots, merging the country’s powerful ancient musical styles and utilizing authentic traditional instruments, poetic and musical forms to both reproduce and creatively re-imagine the sounds of an ancient African royal court. 

Sophie Nzayisenga
Sophie is Rwanda’s – and possibly the region’s – only female professional inanga. It’s an 8-stringed trough zither made from piece of wood carved with a shallow bowl that’s plucked with both hands. For 2 decades, she’s been writing songs that combine the traditional art form passed down from her father – a renowned inanga player in his own right – with her own contemporary poetry and melodies.

Shakura S’Aida
Brooklyn-born, Swiss-raised and now Canadian-based, S’Aida is a versatile jazz and blues vocalist and a consummate performer with a scorching vocal style that has blown audiences away for 20 years. A 2011 Maple Blues and 2011 Indies Blues artist winner, she delivers infectious funk, buoyant swing and smoldering soul. Her live show is the anchor of the phenomenal reputation she’s developed through tireless touring throughout the world. She has an uncanny ability to get down into the guts of even the most venerable old standard, singing and playing it with the dedication of a veteran actor.

Born Shadrach Kabango to Rwandan parents, Canadian rapper Shad has quickly become one of Canada’s most respected young artists, winning a 2011 Juno for Best Rap Recording. His skillful wordplay, carefully crafted mix of hard-hitting, clever, witty rhyme schemes and soul-searching social commentary combine for an engaging live show.

Urunana rw’abadatana
Their name means “unbroken circle” and they are from Rwanda’s original inhabitants and its forest people, the Batwa. Many of the Batwa are very poor, the city of Kigali having grown around their traditional home of Kabagari where they typically live in little mud huts, grow subsistence crops and raise goats. War and deforestation have impacted their culture and forced many to relocate to cities. Despite the challenges, they are a sharp and deeply grounded people with a rich culture who live in almost total harmony with the Earth.

Urunana rw’abadatana are an ensemble whose dances and unique harmonic singing is accompanied by the stringed inanga and the ikondera, a cow horn with a haunting sound. Their rhythmic sense has no equal; it is simple and raw but amazingly complex. Their music emphasizes sound rather than words; the primary way by which they communicate with the forest.

Plus: Makanyaga Irangira, Massamba, Miss Jojo, King James, Aline Gahongahire & Sisters, Ikobe, Mani Martin, Natty Dread, Kidz Voice, Lion Imanzi, Jay Polly, Knowless, Dr. Claude, Mico Band, Papy Band, Moriah Band, Nerve Comedy Nayity.