Afro soul music to some people is a blend of peace, a reflection of struggle to others and relaxation redefined which is why in Ug its often referred to as ‘mwoyo’, meaning the soul.
Uganda has a multitude of talented music artists and it’s no wonder it has been ranked as number 3 in Africa.
Afro soul is a soothing music genre that combines soft soul music, a variety of musical instruments and African sound. Its usually deep, emotional and full of relatable messages. Its biggest characteristic is its similarity to jazz and use of band instruments.
In this list, we get to look at those music artists that are well known for their talent and are considered as the best in soul;
Who is the best Afro soul artist in Uganda to date?
8. Maureen Rutabingwa
Maureen Rutabingwa popularly known as Mo Roots is a multi-talented instrumentalist, singer and song writer who is currently Uganda’s best female saxophonist playing with Qwela Band for the last 3 years.
Mo Roots songs appeal to those that are moved by deep instrumental soul music. She possesses a strong vocal prowess coupled with her unique skill in playing saxophone and keyboard. She also has her own band called Soul Deep which has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years.
So far, Mo Roots has two studio albums with one titled Hear Me (2016) and the other From the Sun (2019) which is 11 track album co-produced by Roy Kasiika, alias the Drum machine.
7. Sandra Nankoma
Sandra Nankoma was once known by the stage name of Sandy Soul. She is a recording artist, song writer, composer, actor and performer of soul and jazz music.
Nankoma started performing music professionally in 2013 and also took part in various festivals such as the Bayimba Festival of the Arts, following her collaboration with Sylvester Kabombo on hip hop song, “Fumbiro”.
Sandra Nankoma’s voice is distinctive and with powerful vocals which make her unique and among the best music artists when it comes to jazz and soul ballads.
After her first single, Season she has since recorded a number of other songs including; “Mercedes”, “Mwisuka” and “Kaddugala” (which translates to Melanin), released as an anthem to dark skinned girls and a strong statement against bleaching, was nominated in the 2018 AFRIMAS (All Africa Music Awards).
In 2018, she released her debut studio album, Ye’nze which was mastered and released in both Uganda and France. It also won Nankoma an AFRIMA award for ‘Best Female Artist in African Inspirational Music’.
6. Maurice Kirya
It would be a surprise if Maurice Kirya hadn’t made to this list. Having a vast wealth of experience in the music industry, he has become a household name in East Africa.
In 2010, Kirya was awarded the Radio France Internationale Discoveries Award during which he was credited as the pioneer of Ugandan soul music – a style he’s aptly dubbed ‘’Mwooyo’’.
Kirya has performed in over 35 countries, and collaborated in performances with the likes of NE-YO (United States), Mark Forster (Germany), and American actor and idols winner Jordin Sparks.
5. Jackie Akello
Jackie Akello is another powerful sensation when it comes to soul. She is a contemporary performer and song writer that can spit out music in Acholi, Luganda, Swahili, and English.
She is an Acholi woman from northern Uganda and most of her songs talk about the suffering of the Acholi people both during and after the Lord’s Resistance Army war.
Before her solo career picked up, Jackie had joined a number of live performing bands such as Janzi, The Sundowners and then her own Amari Band. She has also performed on live stages including World Music Day 2014 and 2017 in Kampala, Blankets and Wine festival, Bayimba festival, and many others including a tour in France.
The award-winning Ugandan song writer and record producer Sarah Tshila may be one of the most underrated artists in Uganda.
We say this with confidence because when you listen to her music, you will realise how talented she is not just vocally but how she uses her skills to produce artistic and yet powerful engaging sound.
Tshila was once a member of the hip-hop group Bataka Squad which makes her music even more desirable as she has the ability to blend rap like style into soul.
She has released two studio albums so far which include Sipping from The Nile (2007) and World in Crisis (2018). Her first album gained her a lot of recognition from music critics around the world and in 2007, she was named one of the 20 best unsigned artists in the world by the BBC World Service.
3. Apio Moro
Apio Moro’s music transcends time and is a representation of what true soul music is all about. The talented Japadhola songstress and song writer hails from Eastern Uganda. Her music inspires continuous self-discovery and acceptance.
Music in Africa referred to Apio Moro as a talented icon that blew the town away with her story telling music blended with soulful sounds when she launched her EP titled “Chuny Adech” at an independently sponsored show in Kampala in 2017.
The songstress has collaborated with various artists such as Multi-Grammy award winner Joss Stone and has performed in many countries such as Rwanda and Kenya. She launched her first album titled Chuny Adech in 2018.
Some of Moro’s best songs include “Atiya”, “Obia”, “Ononsonyiwa” and “Slave”. If you love music that has some of that folk feeling with a blended soul touch of band instruments then she is the right choice for you.
2. Kenneth Mugabi
If you haven’t heard of Kenneth Mugabi before, then you have been missing out on good music. Apart from being a multi-talented song writer, recording artist and an amazing performer, he is also able to sing in various languages such as Luganda, Runyankole and Luo.
Mugabi’s career has so far been molded more as a performer than a recording artist, and it is his thrilling acts that have won him quite a following. On stage with his guitar, he croons his way into the hearts of the audience in no longer than a verse of a song. – New Vision
Mugabi so far has two albums, Kibunomu (2013) and Ugandan (2019) and is well known for his enriching soul music that relates to daily struggles, hopes, and joys of life. His best hits include “Naki”, “Nambi”, “Oliwa” to mention but a few.
1. Shifah Musisi
Shifah Musisi makes it to the top of this list. Her songs entail a lot of storytelling coupled with her guitar playing skills, deep lyrics and strong voice. She is also a fashion designer and hopes her music can inspire anyone who listens to it.
Her strong passion for music is influenced by iconic stars like Sade, Dido, Angelique Kidjo and Yvonne Chaka Chaka which has greatly defined her music style which is a fusion of contemporary, RnB and afro-soul genres majorly inspired by real life experiences.
Shifah so far has one studio album titled Olugendo (2016) which drove her success leading to her European tour in 2016 that saw her perform in Spain, Denmark, Sweden and at the famous Andancas festival in Portugal.
She intends to release another second album titled Dark & Happy Times this 2019 with the date yet to be confirmed. Some of her best tracks include “Emirembe”, “Ebilowozo”, “Endongo Yange” and “Sanyu Lyange.”
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Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.