I’ve been fully immersed and involved with Music since the year 1982 as a 10-year-old joining the school choir. Whenever I say “Music Is Life”, it’s not literal nor figurative to me, it is fact.
I started forming bands, writing songs and organizing shows as a Performer and Promoter in Secondary school. Music has been there not only as a vocation but also as a job; work.
It wasn’t until 1999 that I first got a day job, working with my brother Peter Lubyayi Kiwanuka aka Peki, selling CDs and Mobile phones in Phone CD Bar on Kampala Road. Even then, I still wrote loads of songs, did both learning and apprenticeship with Timothy S Kizito at Kasiwukira Studios, and was still a Promoter. I slept very little.
My next day job was with Ange Noir/Ange Mystique/Guvnor from 2005. Even that one had its roots in promoting Music Concerts at the start. This is still my day job to date.
When the lockdown was announced in March 2020, everything in my sector Music, came to a standstill. Seventeen months on, both my jobs are still under lockdown. That’s the Blues part of this story.
In the last four months, I have listened to over two thousand songs from around the world; 97% Jazz/Jazz affiliated, 1% Funk and 2% Soul-R&B. I’ve not listened to as much Music in my entire life in such a short period of time like I have of recent.
To this, add hours and hours of videos, mainly interviews and live performances by supremely gifted Musicians. This is the silver lining of this story; learning.
Surviving as a working Musician during this pandemic is a big challenge, but the fact that I’m still here, sane and writing this story, I give thanks and praises. I’ve managed to interact with other Musicians in other parts of the world, mainly from Brazil and Cuba, who are going through similar upheavals.
It’s through Music that I’ve met and interacted with so many great people who have been there for me and for so many others in this country.
My brother from another Mother Dave Summers is one of those gems that I have met through Music, who’s been a blessing to me and many other people here.
My brother Sammy D who was my Drummer decades ago, is such an immense blessing too.
My Elder, brother and daytime/night time Boss is such an incredible man, who’s been there for so many of us. All these are connections through Music.
Through this process of listening to lots of Music, I have discovered that our Music fails to get to higher levels of success mainy because it lacks sophistication.
Please be mindful that sophistication doesn’t mean complication.
Our Music needs to be written better, arranged better, produced better, recorded better, performed better, delivered better and mixed better. This is the only way our Musicians will be invited for meaningful tours in many other parts of the world. Improving our craft is of paramount importance, that’s if we are to soar and not only excel in this small pond that we erroneously call an industry.
A lot is happening in the Music fraternity here of recent. This pandemic is acting as a sieve, this is clear.
I’ve been invited for several interviews to offer my opinion on the subject of what’s going on, but I have humbly declined, on principle. Primarily, I strongly believe that Music is The Spirit that unites humanity, and should never be used to cajole, coerse, subjugate or hold humanity captive.
As for copyright, this is a given, a fundamental right for any creative Artist, just like patents are for inventors. Copyright must never be used as a bargaining tool, it’s a given, a must-have. We should not be bargaining for sunshine, rain and dew. Likewise, we mustn’t bargain for creative rights, equality and justice. However, humanity being what it is, imperfect; one has to choose from the available (usually bad) options.
In the current/prevailing situation we find ourselves in as Musicians, it takes a lot of courage and restraint for one to make the best choice among the available not so good choices. The choice I’ve made is to listen to and learn as much Music as possible, to listen to the experiences of other Musicians around the world, to network with as many as possible and most importantly, to become the best possible Musician I can be. I owe so much to Music.
This is in addition to helping other Musicians to become better Musicians and better human beings, planting as many Indigenous trees in Kalungu Buddu as possible and continuing to use Music to unite and lift the lives of as many people as possible. As Musicians who have benefited so much from the joy it brings, we owe it to ourselves and to Music to work as hard as possible, to become better Musicians, so we offer the best possible version of ourselves to humanity.
This isnt the first time humanity is going through upheavals, but at this scale, it certainly must be a lesson for anyone who is woke; that in the greater scheme of things, we are not as important as we perceive ourselves to be. We must look after the Earth better and treat not only ourselves better, but also treat all creation better. We owe the Earth that much.