Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Satlam Shatilwe: A Rising Star from Way Down South.

For the last decade, “Satlam" aka Shatilwe Lamek has been performing to throngs of fans from his native Namibia and other neighboring African countries. Satlam is a truly grounded individual. His music has wonderful earth-tones and his mannerisms are evident of an artist at peace with himself. This Windhoek based singer has released 2 underground albums, and a forthcoming one in July this year. A chance collaboration with fellow Namibian Mushe resulted in his song "Pandula" being nominated at the 2011 Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMA) in Best Collaboration Category, a well-deserved award for an exceptionally hardworking musician.

      The African Child sat down with the soft-spoken singer who hails from Ohalushu to find out what keeps him so grounded and in control. The resulting interview was a very revealing and insightful experience, as Satlam came to terms with his music, fans, impending marriage to fiancée Leti Sakaria and family.

Can you tell us a little about your background and family?

I was born 30 years ago (14-11-1980) at a village called Ohalushu in northern Namibia. I am the fourth among 8 siblings. I grew up with my parents at the village. I did my primary school and secondary school at different schools in northern Namibia from 1988 – 2000 and went on to pursue pre-engineering course at University of Namibia (UNAM) in 2001. I went on to University of Capetown (UCT) in 2003 and finished my degree in electrical engineering in 2007.

How did you get interested in rapping?

When I was in secondary school, I used to be good at writing lyrics. I was writing songs for our school choir (Mweshipandeka High School). I started writing my own songs when I came to University of Namibia in 2001 and I recorded my first song the same year. I didn’t know people would love my music but it became obvious to me when my first single in 2001 became a hit in Namibia. I continued studies to SA in 2003 and finished my degree in 2007. While I was in SA I used to perform at University gigs, and the love of music just got stuck in me even more when all my friends were telling me that I can be a music star.

Who are your biggest influences?

First of all, my parents. They made sure I finished my studies first before I do music. And secondly, all successful African artists, they motivate me to work hard and spread the message of hope to Africa as well as entertainment culture.

What was your first big break?

It was in 2009 when I released my commercial single called “I do” after my studies. This single was a hit and is still a hit in Namibia. It get me nominated in Sanlam/NBC music awards in 2009 and getting nominated was a big step for me to bigger opportunities (like artist name promotion). I earned respect from my fellow musicians and Namibian nation at large after the awards.

What has been your most challenging song to write and why?

It was my first single that I took to radio stations in Namibia, I didn’t know if people would like it. So it was difficult for me to choose the lyrics that will impress them on my first try. But it was superb at the end of the day.

There’s a lot of collaboration between African musicians these days. What do you think is causing this?

Collaborations are the best platforms you can get to market yourself further from your vicinity. If I am from Namibia for example, not many people know me as an artist in Ghana, but if I feature a popular Ghanaian artist, there goes the platform to get known in Ghana. And this is widening of your fans across Africa.

You’ve had some collaboration with other musicians. What have been your most memorable or favorite collaborations with other musicians?

Yes. I  have thus far collaborated with artists  mainly from Namibia. However,  there are plans in the pipeline  to work  with other African and international artistes. As you already aware of,  I collaborated with Namibian Afro-pop artist Karlos Lokos on the track  “I do”, and this song is a hit across Africa as we speak. Hence at the moment I would say this was my best collaboration so far.

How is hip-hop or rap music received in Namibia?

Hip-hop is now popular in Namibia and there are many hip-hop cats in Namibia now as we speak. The only problem I can stress about hip-hop in Namibia is that hip-hop CDs are not selling well compared to Kwaito, Kwiku, Afropop and house in Namibia. Maybe not just yet to cash in when doing hip-hop. But on radio stations I would say it’s dominating.

What challenges do you face in the music industry (piracy, payola (paying deejays to play music, etc)?

Taa, it hurts very much to learn that your music is being pirated. Considering all the effort, money and time you’ve invested in the album and just to get pirated without you getting any income from it. At the same time you realize that some deejays favor some artists, it’s an unfortunate situation. But all in all, you just have to work hard, do the right things, follow procedures and produce good and quality music. Promotion is the key factor to the success of any artist.

Does faith play a role in your music, at least, on some kind of peripheral level? Do you feel certain reluctance in being explicit about your family’s faith or background given the often insulated mindset of music scenes and artistry in general?

It plays multiple roles. I doubt I'd write the kinds of lyrics I write or be drawn to these grandiose ideas and images without my religious background. Questions about guilt, redemption, and what's eternal are all questions that religion deals with. I've never been reluctant about discussing my family's faith or background. But it can get complicated in my own creative process.

What does it feel like to perform in front of a crowd who feel and really respond to your music?

It feels good maaan, and I know to each and every artist it feels awesome. It motivates you to keep on performing and producing nice songs too. There you would develop trust with your fans, because sometimes is not easy to get a fan-base.

How can your teaming fans reach you?

Anybody can get me at these following websites:

What’s been your biggest musical achievement?

First one, Getting nominated for Sanlam Music awards in 2009, it was the best moment for me, as I was still an upcoming artist by then. It’s not easy breaking into tough Namibian Music industry, but the judges and the Namibian nation in general appreciated my music and I was nominated for an award for my hard and smart work. Second one, having released my album that did very well. It was finished three times, which means I had to re-order three times because my fans couldn’t stop buying the album.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I want to be a successful artist in Africa, respected and grown too. By then I want to have five albums on my name that are doing good nationally and internationally. I also want to be an independent businessman employing some people because I want to reduce un-employment in our society.

What are your plans for 2011?

I want to release my second album in July, perform outside Namibia and hopefully getting nominated for music awards outside Namibia. That would show me that my music is starting to get recognized outside Namibia and that is my target.

Lastly, what hopes do you have for your music and as an artist?

I only ever wanted to create work I was proud of, and I think I've done, and try to continue to do that.

     Infinite thanks to Lamek Shatilwe for granting me this interview. I really enjoyed it!! I hope we can do it again! It’s amazing to look back and see that Satlam already has 10 years of experience within the realm of music. Mr. Shatilwe Lamek is a very entertaining artiste who has everything going for him. He is still young with so much potential and I feel the sky is the limit for this graduate from the University of Capetown.

  By the way, I have had the good fortune of listening to his soon-to be-released album “DENOMINATOR”. As soon as you push play, you experience Satlam’s youthful yet mature spirit & innocence on this album.  I foresee Satlam Shatilwe going on to make many more records while becoming an even more respected music artist. I swear to that statement and if you don’t believe me then convict me of perjury!  Love to see where this singer/songwriter/musician is in say 5-10 years. Amazing…This affable guy  has a bright future ahead of him without a doubt!

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our site.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Lawretta Richards Interview(RETTA)

Photo Credit: Jton Productions

          Lawretta Richards is what Hollywood/Nollywood would call a bankable star. Voice, looks, confidence, poise, aggressive sexiness and the ability to twitch a vixenish smile on command at the corners of her mouth - they all combine to captivate audiences in general and to turn grown men into foolish little boys. On paper, Retta’s ascent to stardom follows the traditional route of many cookie cutter, here today gone tomorrow stars. Similar to such stars, she appears on many variety shows and her appeal is not restricted to those with a taste for more serious music.

However, Retta is distinct among these other stars in the mainstream due to her signature pout and believable tough-girl voice. Her songs never come off as sugary bubble-gum pop, but the melodies are not anywhere near American R&B style. Her mature, almost monotone voice evokes a sense of depth and sex appeal achieved rarely by other artists and her beauty comes across as far more than average cuteness. The richness of her delivery nearly stops the heart because you know an angel is singing, and the beauty of this outpouring of love stirs your soul. Her gift of vocal music is wonderful to behold.

        Recently, I had the chance to interview Retta. The songstress popped on the music scene in 2010 with her release of the singles ‘Kolo for You’ and ‘Would You be Mine’, and has soared to higher heights ever since. Although her family has long been involved in the music industry, she only recently discovered her talent as a performer. She was brought to the public’s attention by Joy Tongo, President of Jton Productions while vacationing in Nigeria and has since not looked back.

The full text of the interview can be read below:

How are you doing? Before we get any further with this interview, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am doing great, thanks a lot. My name is RETTA. I am 20yrs old...born and raised in Nigeria (Port Harcourt), where I had my primary and secondary education. Love listening to all genres of music and I got great passion for singing, dancing as well as acting and writing. Studied theatre arts in the University of Port Harcourt after which I moved to Lagos to start a life time career in entertainment and in the Arts.

Let’s go back into your days, how were things for you growing up? What kind of music were you exposed to?

I was exposed to all genres of music but mostly old school...the 80's and 90' family’s got a lot of interest in music especially my dad cause he happened to be a very famous DJ in his time (laughs). I am still very much into old school but then I create a balance with the new generational music. Growing up for me wasn't so easy, because I used to be on the very reserved and quite side. I would hardly speak to anyone so I spent most of my time behind closed doors writing about how I felt about myself. I got an amazing woman for a mother because she made me who I am today. My dad was always travelling for business but he managed to still create a balance in his family by still being there for us as much as he could. I had a lot of insecurities and low self esteem growing up but with God and time I was able to surpass all that......

Who are your biggest influences?..

I have been influenced by a lot of people in different ways. I would start with my musical influence...Dido and Tracy Chapman...etc then to stage craft...Rihanna and the Noisettes then to perfectionist....Beyonce Knowles and Michael Jackson...and many more I wouldn't want to put down else I'll begin to bore you(Laughs).

Have the personal experiences inspired you musically?

My personal life and experience is one of my biggest inspirations. When I decided to put my pen and paper together. In different ways my personal experiences have always played a major role in my music.

How are the people outside Nigeria appreciating your music?

They have been very receptive and that gives me great joy.

Photo Credit: Jton Productions
You are currently working on a forthcoming album. Do you mind sharing with us the progress thus far and what will the title be?

Yes. I am working on my album, which will consist of about 12-13 tracks but still not finally decided. We haven't really finalized on what the title would be but before it drops you definitely would hear of it...the album is a mixture of different kinds of genres but still retaining my sound.

What are some of the challenges that you face as an independent artist?

Oh well, the major one should be shortage of funds and support from the guru's in the is a challenge but I still see the positive side to it which makes me stronger To know I can fight for what I want and achieve it. There's a pride that comes with that you know.

What has been the public’s reception so far to the release of Kolo for You? Any message behind that track?

'Kolo for You' is doing amazingly well. At first I was scared as to how well it would be accepted because I hear people say it sounds too international. But I found out that the music scene is changing and people are getting to give ears to good music' international or not...good music is good music and would be appreciated. ‘Kolo’ means crazy and as we all know it is a well known slang in Nigeria's famous Pidgin English... Kolo can be used positively or negatively. In this record, it portrays the positive side. The message this song is trying to pass across is that of two loving hearts been separated by distance and how much they can still feel each other whether they are together or not... In other words we are saying that distance should never be a barrier to love.

Besides music, what else are you interested in?

I actually love everything entertainment...from singing to dancing to acting and even writing... I am passionate about arts so I have strange for hunger for arts and entertainment.

How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t heard your music before?

I am a soul musical artist with a fusion of pop...I can also be seen as ritual soul' because of that old school feel in my music. It may be hard for you to classify me on a particular genre. Different people hear different sounds as far as rock but that's just cause of my flammable mixture of the both genres.

What is the one thing you would like your fans to know about you?

 Hahaha! Ok that's a tough one. I'll just say one thing am popularly known for is that I smile a little bit too much. Easily tickled. (Covers face).Bringing it home, what's your take on contemporary African music in general? Hmm! Oh well I think it is still growing and many more talents are yet to be discovered. Our artists have done very well for the country. I mean' we have grown so fast and strong. I am proudly African.

Where can fans get your latest music, photos etc?

On the Internet, my Facebook Fanpage, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter.

What does it feel like to perform in front of a crowd who feel and really respond to your music?

Wow! That's all I can say... (Hahaha) and many more expressions like ehhh!jeez!... Its breath taking, exciting and extremely mind blowing... You can actually get carried away with excitement if not put together...the feeling is indescribable.

What’s been your biggest musical achievement?

 Well for now I will say been giving the opportunity to stand in front of a crowd and get people actually listen and appreciate my music. These are all huge achievements for me and as time goes on there are better to come.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

 In 5years I see myself on top of my game. I am going to be heard and recognized in the world and I coming back home with the Grammys and many more international and local awards. I am going to take over Africa with my music. I would have taking over by then and started building my music school in Nigeria.

So what’s set for 2011?

2011 is my year... I will bring the best music you would ever hear in Africa and an album to my credits, touring around the world. 2011 is just the beginning of something very BIG.

Thanks a lot for your support. It is a privilege to have this interview.

         Success requires the right qualities. Image is one of the most important qualities besides talent that can aid one’s possibility of success. Retta possesses that and more too. She is a lovely lady and the combination of this look, her sweet disposition and her huge talent, will make her very successful. Her singing voice is so pure. She just naturally knows when to modulate and when to crescendo. She has all the variations of a singer who has been trained by the best music teacher. In my humble opinion, Ms. Richards would certainly go places and I would urge readers to purchase her full length album when it is eventually released.

        So there you have it. A little insight into Retta’s world. For more details about upcoming tours, releases, and performances, visit or following her on Twitter@Rettarich.

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our site.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nneka: The Neo-Soul Philosopher

Photo Credit: Nnekaworld
Few artistes garner the kind of attention and interest like Nneka Lucia Egbuna does. Nneka as she is called by her fans, is captivating to witness in concert. She may not be a household name in the States just yet, but she's carved out a nice following abroad and every time she releases a record, critics go crazy with praise. Nneka also follows in the footsteps of very notable female singers such as Laura Izibor and Sade from her native country of Nigeria.

This half -Nigerian/German was born and raised in Warri, in the Delta region of Nigeria. It’s worth pointing out that this region of Nigeria where Nneka grew up is home to vast oil reserves, but with a troubled history of violence. She has seen all this with her own eyes as a child and teenager and now expresses it through her art. Her voice is amazing--it's strong and beautiful. She is mesmerizing to listen to and she makes you really care what happens. An uncompromising perfectionist, she worked hard to develop a personal, pensive sound, somewhat reminiscent of Erykah Badu and Neneh Cherry.

Since her first album which made waves in the music arena in 2005, she’s been on a raging hit sequence. An archeologist by study and singer by heart! Her style of music and the way its’ fusion mixed is just amazing. This lady with a unique charismatic voice counts Life, Kahlil Gibran, Bob Marley and Fela Kuti as some of her influences. Her music and lyrics are totally different from usual music makers. She has her own inimitable style which has made a mark in the music world. I am an ardent fan of Nneka. Her first song which I heard was ‘Kange’ feat. Wesley Williams, which was my favorite then. ‘Africans’ is my favorite now! The lyrical content of some of Nneka’s songs have focused on the plight of her native Delta people such as the aptly titled 'No Longer at Ease' album released in 2008, which pays homage to a novel by the much-revered Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. The trajectory of Ms. Nneka’s musical career has been both steep and upward. In the last 5 years, she has opened up for some of the biggest acts such as Lenny Kravitz, The Roots and Gnarls Barkley, during which time she’s released 2 full length albums and 3 compilation CDs.She was awarded the Best African Act at the 2009 MOBO Awards. In 2010, Nneka recorded a song for the just-ended FIFA World Cup in South Africa called "Viva Africa”. Key in all this has been her tireless drive as a performer and graciousness to all, with no airs to speak of. She has a distinctive style and ability to engage her audiences.

All her songs present a great mix of R&B, reggae, jazz, soul  and hip-hop with the latest style which makes them soothing to the ears. Her videos are very different and make you watch them again and again. Her latest album “Concrete Jungle” is just awesome. And she looks amazing in the video. I recently bought her latest album “Concrete Jungle”. Get yours!

       We consider ourselves very privileged to have been given the opportunity to share with you a very insightful and candid interview with a lady who is as humble and down to earth as her sound which is out of this world! We hope you enjoy it as much as we had.

Could you explain the pronunciation of your name? My name means mother is supreme. Nneka sounds like (hm neck car).

Tell us a bit about your story and how you got into music. Who is your biggest inspiration?

I got into music at a very early age, I was felt devoted to music, the fact is that no one in my family had anything to do with music...well I would sing to myself while doing my domestic work at home and sometimes I sang in school or ended up singing at festivities in church, but it was never professional until I traveled out of Nigeria ,when I went to Germany, I ended up understanding I really had a passion for music and it helped me through many difficult times and situations..I began doing music as a hobby and something I just loved and eventually performed on small stages and with friends. It was at this stage I met people like the Chosen Few Records Group and eventually became a member. I also met DJ Farhot with whom I ended up working with and doing three albums.

How long have you been performing? Well I got my record deal in 2003, professionally I have been touring since then, but before that I performed in small places with my group and also with a band called funknastico at that time.

Where are you originally from? I am from Nigeria, born and raised. My father is from Anambra state in the south of Nigeria and my biological mother is a German.

Are you close to your family? How old were you when your parents split?
Well I am in good terms with my father. I never knew my mother until I was 17

How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t heard your music before?
It is authentic, real and simple, sometimes complicated but within the complexity there is sincerity and simplicity.

Do you write your own lyrics? How do you approach the songwriting process?
Yes I write my own lyrics that makes me to who I am as a musician, without expressing myself through my own lyrics I would not have an outlet. Well songwriting happens in different ways, sometimes I start with the words, other times with the melody and eventually I find the words and sometimes I hear a beat and become inspired...or sometimes I just don’t have anything to say.

When did you first know you wanted to be a professional musician? Never did(laughs).

What would you have done if you hadn't become a singer? I have a degree in anthropology and archaeology. I finished my studies, I could do something with my studies or go back and study biology.

Photo Credit: Nnekaworld
Your latest album “Concrete Jungle” was released in February 2010. What has been the public’s response thus far to the album and do you have anything new in the works?
Well it’s been good response I must, say we have toured almost three years with those songs, and we have gained great acknowledgement and publicity in Europe, and Africa...we approached the states with concrete jungle only last year, but we have been touring in the states as well over two years now..It has been a success and really hard work.

You released “I’m waiting” featuring fellow Nigerian Ade Bantu, the soundtrack for the movie ‘Relentless’ in which you made your acting debut. What’s the message behind that song and do you plan to pursue movie roles full-time?
Well the song is about suspense, the continuous and never ending story of change and redemption, we not knowing where we are heading to and what precisely we are doing’s about pain and freedom.

Is there any cause that you’d like to promote? Yes, sure, I have a foundation called the ROPE foundation where we give children and young adults the opportunity to express themselves by tools of music, art. We are a fresh foundation and we raise awareness on issues that concern the community and their leaders...issues of ecology, oil, exploitation or injustice of any kind, even elections...

On a more serious note, you are unapologetically proud of your Nigerian/African roots. What's your take on the current state of African politics and its’ battered image in the western media?
Well, we have so many things to say...I moved back to Nigeria to be part of the system I myself was criticizing...fact is some things change and some things do not..All I can do is be part of positive change, that is why I focus on the youth because they are the, knowledge, love is what they need.

What travel tips or suggestions do you have for people contemplating visiting Nigeria and other parts of Africa?
Be open, not all of Africa is just negative, corrupt and full of AIDS and HIV. It might be part of reality, but there is more than that...culture, tradition, good people and talent.

What kind of music do you listen to? Soul, afro beat, highlife, hip hop etc

What about you is most misunderstood? My intentions.

Last year, you toured with Nas and Damian Marley to help promote their 'Distant Relatives' album. What were your observations of that tour and working experiences with both gentlemen?
Well cool people, I learnt a lot from both, you need stamina and focus for this work. It is not just music it is a movement..exodus... You always have to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing.

What do you want to be remembered for when it’s all said and done?
Ha ha....I pray I fulfill the expectations of my creator...

Thank you for providing us the opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts and advice you wish to share with us?
Pursue all your great ideas!!

Thanks for your support and love!

Have a listen to Nneka’s music at and also follow her on Twitter @Nnekaworld.

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our site.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

John Q: Riddims & Beatz

         Upcoming singer/songwriter and talented producer John Quansah, with the showbiz name John Q is one to watch. I would even dare go as far to use the words ‘unique’ and ‘timeless’ to describe this reggae artiste. His delivery and voice has a vintage essence, but his words reflect what’s happening today. John Q is an acclaimed rhythm master in the making of reggae, hip-hop and dancehall beats.

        He has in the past written songs and produced other artists such as Mellow Wayne, Jah Tempo, Lady S, and Tilly Beng just to mention a few. With the future looking ever so bright, John Quansah managed to squeeze some time out of his busy schedule and settle down for an interview with yours’ truly – reflecting on his childhood academic dream, his album “Reggae Storm” and his classical training at Rev. John Teye Memorial School of Music.

First of all, I want to express my gratitude for granting me the opportunity to interview you. Can you tell us about your background and family?

I was born and raised in Accra, Ghana. My mum was a school teacher and a pastor in Ghana and New York. My father trained as a civil engineer and a medical doctor in the United Kingdom. My mum was from Accra from the Ga tribe and Dad was a Fanti from Central Region (Cape Coast and Saltpond). I currently live with my only child/son as a single parent.

Tell us a little about your musical history and how you fell into the roles of producer/songwriter and studio/touring musician.

I had the interest in playing musical instruments as a kid (at 5 years old), and my mum enrolled me at Rev. John Teye School in Ghana which was the greatest elementary music and math boarding school. Most students at John Teye spent several hours a day playing the keyboard at the time I attended the school. I would play with friends and we would try to compose our own simple beats on the keyboard. That was where my love for music began. We were also taught to write poetry at an early age at the school. Writing poetry was actually the beginning of my music carrier. Music has always been my source of consolation in difficult times and in my everyday life. Music is my second source of motivation in life of course God being first. The difficulties and painful experiences in life drove me to begin writing music and learning to play the guitar seven years ago. I then wrote four songs on the first Mellow Wayne Reggae album titled "Truth & Love". I had my first studio experience working with Jah Mike. I was also blessed with two guitar teachers who have moved on to the next world. My mother was a strong source of motivation because she did not tolerate average performance in the family as such I am driven to persevere. I spent my first five years writing music for various artistes and running the business aspect of their music carriers.

You count Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Jacob Miller, Percy Sledge and The Commodores among your biggest influences. Of all the records Bob Marley released, which one do you consider the most essential? ... Tell us your favorite, and feel free to share why you love it so much! ... Obviously Legend does not count:).

My favorite Bob Marley's Album is "Survival". It definitely instilled consciousness in me as a young African man. It gave me more education than any teacher I encountered in my academic journey. I am also heavily thrilled by his album "Catch A Fire". I got my motivation from Bob Marley as a high school student. I am thankful to him for teaching me to be a musician and most importantly a Godly man of consciousness. Bob Marley's Song "One Drop" was always my favorite song in the world. I then embraced his other song "Africa Unite". He is still talking to us till today. It is ironic I am saying this on Ghana's Independence Day. Quoting The Honorable Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, “The Independence of Ghana in meaningless until the entire African continent is free”. It is a shame that many African politicians are still sell outs, greedy and corrupt power drunken idiots and children of Africa still suffering at home and abroad. If Africa had united as Bob Marley, Kwame Nkrumah and Haile Selassie had envisioned it, we will not be in the mess we are in today. Most of our people be it the educated and non-educated are so mentally enslaved. The album "Survival" definitely has been a healing medication for the mental slavery and lost identity that is widely spread in our population

Your debut album ‘Reggae Storm’ was released in July 2010 to rave reviews. I’m feeling the track and music video for ‘Born Alone, Die Alone’. Any message behind that track?

Actually, the album I produced "Reggae Storm" was released in 2008. It had my first single I sang "Born Alone Die Alone". I was inspired to write that song out of four sad situations. My 2 closest friends (my music teachers), my mother and closest auntie all passed away in less than a two year period. I felt empty inside and the whole world was crumbling around me. I had asked my son to come live with me as he had requested earlier and somehow his mother got him to write me a painful letter basically asking me to leave him alone just after my mother had died. I had also been victimized by the cold legal system at that time and I realized that I had to start loving myself first before I could be concerned with anyone else because I basically had no one and I still had the zeal to keep on moving so I had to advise myself and the advice was that " Born Alone Die Alone" you need to love yourself before anyone. I also wrote that song as a tribute to the late Jacob Miller who is also one of the musicians who inspired me to sing. I actually adopted his style of singing at a point of the song when I emphasize on "your your your self self". The real message behind the track is that "If you love anyone more than yourself it could break your heart and make you cry" "you were born alone and you will die alone" as such you owe it to yourself to make yourself happy. In your hands lies your destiny. The message is plain and blatant. On the night I was going to voice this track at E2 Recording Studios in Brooklyn. I was on my way to pick up my trumpeter Akrofi Francis by Fordham road and then to proceed to Brooklyn. I had stopped for the red light on a rainy night, and a lady hit me from behind. I realized that the Devil was doing everything to discourage me and I was determined to sing my first track that night. I still proceeded to the studio to record the song before going to the hospital. I realized what that first single meant to me. It feels good to know that people love that song. I am glad you love it too and thanks for the compliment. I also released my new album title "Jamaica To Ghana" and my mixed music DVD titled "African & Caribbean Unity" are available in every African movie shop or markets in most states and also available at

Have the personal experiences inspired you musically?

My personal experiences in life are what motivate me to write good music. Everything I write is real in our everyday lives.

Do you write your own music and what goes into the songwriting process? Do you write specifically for artists or write in general?

Yes. I always write my own music. My song writing usually lays emphasis on a subject and most of the emphasizing is done on the hook of the song. I do both. I write in general and I also write specifically for artistes. I also write some songs from hearing a beat.

As I scanned your biography, I noticed that in addition to being a classically trained pianist, you are also a drummer and a guitarist. Which instrument was your first love, the keys or the drums?

Actually my instrument is the guitar. I play rhythm guitar and understand the rudiments and theory of the guitar. I just have a little feel for drums and could hold a rhythm but not really a drummer. The guitar is really my instrument.

How are the people outside Ghana appreciating your music?

People outside of Ghana actually appreciate my music more than my fellow Ghanaians do. I am more of a reggae musician and as such I have more following in the Caribbean (mostly Jamaica), United States (especially New York), Europe and Japan. I am well supported by many Ghanaians in New York though and my deepest appreciation and gratitude to them.

How are you finding being an artiste as well as the business man?

Being an artist and a business man is very difficult and tasking but I am glad I can do that because most artistes cannot do it so they usually fade away if they don’t get a good record deal. In my case I don’t need a record deal to be successful in music or to stay in the game because I know how to make my own money. Most musicians have gone out of business because they cannot run a business. They need to be spoon-fed. I don’t. The world is changing and in whatever you do you have to be business-minded. It’s a challenge having to worry about finances, writing, composing and performing at the same time. Sometimes it affects my productivity but the positive outweighs the negative. Being business-minded toughens an individual. It also gives me the freedom to do what I want as a musician. I write and produce what I want to because I own the record label. It can be stressful being afraid that things might fall apart but I have faith in the Lord.

Have you found it difficult building up working relationships when looking for someone who looks out for your best interests?

Yes. I have had some difficulties sometimes trying to work with some people who sometimes are looking out for your best interest because as different individuals we have different views.

Are you signed to a record label? Have you been approached by one?

No. I am not signed to a record label. I have no reason to do that. I can finance my own record label. One of my artistes has been approached by one for a gospel deal. We are at very early stage of the negotiation. I don’t know what my future plans will be because some offers are sometimes too good to turn down. However, I hope to make my record label bigger and will not have to worry about working for someone.

How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t heard your music before?

My sound is usually cultural classic reggae like songs of Inner Circles and other great reggae bands like steel pulse. I don’t restrict myself to reggae. I also do some Jamaican Dance hall, Hip life dancehall, reggae Jazz and also produce Caribbean and African gospel.

You double up as a songwriter and producer. Which role do you prefer and why? What specific things do you look for in an artist before you’ll work with them?

Songwriting is my favorite thing. I love the art of putting words together and making them rhyme. I love the art of breaking things down in a simple form and being informative to the people. As a musician, I am an observer, a teacher and a counselor. My training in writing poetry at an early age gives me the strength to write good music. The main qualities I look for in an artiste is someone who can be aggressive, radical, conscious and a strongly motivated individual with the thirst to succeed.

You have with a number of reggae artistes, performing and recording with them. How has it been to work with some big names like Mellow Wayne, Jah Tempo, Lady S and Tilly Beng?

Working with Jamaican artistes has been my best experience in my music carrier. Most of them started singing from the day they were born. There is something unique about Jamaica and reggae music. That little Island produces so much talent every year and you talking about internationally recognized talents. No wander it is the home of Rastafari. Music is a spiritual thing that is what many fools don’t know. We have stability in the camp. Like one journalist referred to John Q Records as a movement not just a record label and indeed it is a movement to initiate African & Caribbean Unity. I have worked with Mellow Wayne for 7 years, Jah tempo for 7 years as well and Lady S also for 7 years and 2 years with Tilly Beng. We are very united and try to squash any misunderstanding as quickly as possible. All artistes in the group are great performers and have their own following.

Are there any new artists out there that you’re interested in working with?

At the moment I am working on a Ghanaian gospel album for Evelyn Kwakye. I am not really looking for artistes at the moment because I have a lot of songs that I am promoting and have to finish up an album for 4 more of my artistes. I am not in the position to take on another artist unless the artist has something extra ordinarily well. We can never say "never". I am opened to the idea of doing some more work with a few more Ghanaian artistes like Samini , Wutah, Sarkodie and of course Bright of Buk Bak again.

What does it feel like to perform in front of a crowd who feel and really respond to your music?

When performing to people that feel and appreciate what one is singing is a great feeling that cannot be described. It gives me an adrenaline rush and also gives me the power to control the emotions of the crowd/audience.

What has been the greatest moment of your music career?

The greatest moment of my music career was when I did a show in the North Bronx with the Unity Reggae Band. It was a charity concert which featured reggae artistes from the Bronx and Brooklyn. I was scheduled to perform last and got nervous when I saw how well the artistes who performed prior to me did. I got so nervous I started panicking and decided to be calm. Also I was the only non-Jamaican artist performing that night. When I was called to the stage some people in the audience were surprised I was also there to perform. I took the mic and sang out the introduction for the song "sweat" by inner circles. As I screamed ": I"ve been watching you all la la la la along long li long long long" I heard people banging on the walls and tables. I was told to pull up and rewind the tune each time I started singing the tune. By the time the tune was done I was sweating and the entire room was sweating. Lady S walked up to me and said " John Q. If you can come and rock a reggae night concert for Jamaicans, they appreciate your work then you have a future in reggae music because Jamaica is the homeland of reggae music". I felt good as a musician and was proud I represented Africa that night.

What would your advice be to an aspiring songwriter who wants to showcase his material to the music biz, how should he/she proceed?

An aspiring song writer or musician who wants to show case their music should have it at the back of the minds that the quality of the product must be good. It is better to focus on one single. Make sure that single is strong and also start creating a buzz with that single prior to approaching a record label or any type of investor. It’s more about quality not quantity.

Which advice would you give aspiring songwriters in terms of songwriting itself?

My advice to song writers about song writing itself is that the music must come from the heart. Don’t write a song because it is the popular subject at stake. Write the song that lingers on your mind all the time.

You’ve had a lot of studio experience through the years. What advice would you give to bands to best prepare them for the recording process?

My advice to bands for better preparation for recording is rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal.

If you could dramatically change some aspect of the music industry, what would you do?

I would like to change the fact that violent and degrading music is more glorified. I would promote and reward music with spiritual, motivational and informative ingredients more than the stupid superficial and shallow music that tend to be more patronized due to the spiritual and moral decay in society.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself as a well established record label with record shops in New York City, Accra and London. I am on a mission to establishing something progressive in Ghana and Jamaica (would not like to disclose the details of that).

So what’s set for 2011?

The agenda for 2011 is promoting the new album and music DVD I released. I am going to Ghana for the first time in 20 yrs. Will be performing and promoting in Europe, Africa, Asia, United States and Jamaica of course. 2011 is all about a lot of travelling. I will be going to Jamaica soon with the Unity Band. I am looking forward to that. Also I will be dropping the first Ghanaian gospel album by Evelyn Kwakye. In short, 2011 is the year of travelling to spread the word. Thanks to the Lord Almighty.

       Well, as you would expect, more people recognize you for your work. But I think, more so, there is a certain validation that I have in their eyes now. The only expectation is to keep making GOOD music!

For more information on John Q, follow him on Twitter (@ReggaeStorm) or visit his official website:

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our site.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clarisse Albrecht:The World's Musical Ambassador

Photo Credit: Imagenes Dominicanas
          If we say we are a product of our environment, then there would be a direct correlation of our perception and how we interpret things like music. For one such individual, the situational circumstance couldn’t be any truer. That one person is Clarisse Albrecht, a newcomer to the world of lounge music. She is one of those rare birds who make you feel like she needs you as much as you need her. Her songs make you feel needed and important. And her fans/friends have been doing the same for her.

       An ambitious world citizen, Clarisse Albrecht has lived in Bafatá (Guinea-Bissau), Maputo (Mozambique) and Paris (France). Infact, she has lately been shuttling between her home base of Paris and the Dominican Republic. Those experiences in her sojourns distinctively shaped her sound and expressed in songs. There is hardly any doubt therefore that music is in her blood. Shaped from the rhythms that dance through her veins, Ms. Clarisse has mastered the traditional rhythms that have traveled from Africa to Santo Domingo. Her Afro/Brasilia sound is a conversation of melodies which evokes fierce passion. Endowed with such a broad musical vision is broad, she combines her talents with those of some of the most accomplished musicians performing today in genres that range from jazz to pop. Soaring from the heart without losing her head, Ms. Clarisse brings an understated sensuality to what she performs, and with an unequalled grace at that.

       In 2010, Clarisse released her debut single, Voce Me Da which she considers to be a distillation of her life's experiences. I was fortunate to be granted an exclusive e-mail interview with Ms. Albrecht. This interview covered a wide range of issues and interests, which was indeed revealing. Here are details of my interview with this nouveau artiste.

First of all, I want to express my gratitude for  granting me the opportunity to interview you.
You're welcome!

Tell us a little about your background.
About my musical background, I officially started singing in a Gospel choir when I was around 16-17, then I sang as a background vocalist in a soul-funk band, then I decided to find my musical identity and I started to work on my own songs...

Who are your musical influences? Which musicians have helped you define your style of what you perform?

I listen to a lot of different kind of music, there's artist I've listened to all my life. I've been influenced a lot by Sade but also Amel Larrieux, Alcione, Jõao Gilberto...My style is still not clearly define, so it's kind of hard for me to name who really inspired me, it's a mix of everything.

You have lived in four countries and speak several languages. Now you are living in Paris. How did this diverse environment affect your personality and your music?

Yes, I've lived in different countries between France and Africa when I was a kid. Grown up, I've been hanging around and traveling in different countries... Right now, I don't feel like I'm settled anywhere. I'm living between France and Dominican Republic. This kind of living, I bet, affected my personality in the way that I'm not afraid by changes, I'm always trying to be open-minded and understand different cultures. For me life is full of options and you can change your way of life anytime. In my music, I think it gave me the will to make it travel as much as possible and share it with people from different horizons. I always knew I wanted my music to go beyond France's borders.

What is it about Brazilian music that appeals to you? What have you done since to build your knowledge and appreciation of Brazilian music? Has Brazilian music influenced your style in any way?

I think it's very linked to my childhood in Mozambique. I got close there with the Brazilian culture and music, and of course with Portuguese. I was watching Brazilian TV series and I was fascinated. I grew up dreaming of going to Brazil. When I went there the first time, I was working on Brazilian classics songbook. But while I was there, I felt so good and confident that I decided to write my own songs in Portuguese. I realize it had a meaning for me. I'm very nostalgic and Portuguese is the language of Saudade which fits with my sensitivity as an artist and also with this important part of my childhood.

What was going through your mind when you began writing Voce Me Da?

I was in a very positive mood. I wanted to express the simple joy you feel when  you're falling in love. Express that the important thing for me is not where you come from, your color, the real thing is emotions you bring, you provoke, the way you see life.

You are currently working on releasing a full-length album through an independent label. Are you independent by option or do you intend to shop around larger labels or distribution companies?

I've produced my debut single myself. I was later contacted by a digital distributor and we released it. For the album, I'm planning to keep on producing myself, you know. I just want to make my music and spread it. I'll go with the flow. I'm doing my thing and if an offer comes, I will think about it.

Are you pleased with the way your music has been received?

Oh yes! So far, feedbacks are positive. When I discovered that people I don't know at all, that are not family or friends, loved the song I was thrilled and felt really blessed. I can't wait to spread some more.

You have received a good amount of critical success so far are you hoping that translates into commercial success?

I hope so. I'm very underground right now, a commercial success will mean that I've shared my music more and hopefully bring good vibes to more people.

How much does your upbringing in living in Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and France affect the themes you choose to write about?

I have no idea. I wrote a song about Maputo (Mozambique), but except that I don't know how it affects directly the theme I write about. I bet it does surely because it's part of me, my History.

Who are your musical kindred spirits?

I would say LS as he's the co-producer and composer of my songs.

Do you believe music has the power to bring about permanent change?

For sure. Music can save lives or at least, bring daily changes. Music is there for so many moments, in your ups and downs. When you're sad, happy, weak. When you're jogging, when you're driving. When you wanna party... Without even mentioning songs with strong lyrics. You can learn so many things, build or heal yourself through songs you've heard. Music is the answer for so many things.

Much of your music draws on your own very personal experiences. How does sharing so much of your own life with strangers affect you emotionally?

It helps a lot singing in other languages than my maternal one. I can get very emotional when I record a song, sometimes I have very strong flashbacks about what inspired me to write a song but I'm fine with that. It helps me be in the right mood for the song. Even if I'm uncomfortable when people listen to my music in front of me, it's about sharing and release feelings. Plus, most of the people don't even care about the lyrics, lol!

What is the most important thing you would like that people should know about you?

That I believe in the power of positivity. That I wanna bring good vibes!

Overall, what do you think the uniqueness of this album has brought to your music and to your fans?

It's too early to tell.

For 2011, what are your plans?

Release my album, spread my music worldwide, and go on tour. Spend time with people I love, make my family happy.

      Thanks once again for granting me this interview, Ms. Clarisse Albrecht! I look forward to the eventual release of the full-length album.

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our site.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nuru Magram: The Most Fashion Forward African Artiste!

       Tanzania boasts of clear blue waters and white sands as well as more wildlife than any country in the world. But perhaps, one thing this East African nation is equally proud of is its’ cultural ambassador in the person of Nuru Magram.  This 25 year old singer and fashionista who currently calls Stockholm, Sweden her home is evoking invaluable inspiration and motivation to Tanzanian youth. From a young age, Ms. Nuru was always infatuated with all aspects of entertainment and the arts. Her love for fashion started as an interest that developed into a passion. This Bongo Soul singer whose two hits ‘Msela’ and ‘Walimwengu’ made her a household name in the last few years is working on a forthcoming album in her native Swahili language. She also has been involved in a number of charitable activities in aid of development projects in her birth country such as the Mama Lokii Trust of Arusha. Here is a recent interview conducted with Ms. Nuru during  which she spoke  about her musical influences, fashion style, music promotion in Africa and general outlook on life.

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background? Education? Where you grew up?
 I rarely talk about my family. That notwithstanding, I will let your readers know that I come from a family with boys and I’m the only girl. I was raised by my mother who is my role model, and off course my aunt who also had a very big influence on me. I was born in Tanzania but left at a young age but I never forgot my roots and I still speak Swahili to this day. I have studied music and arts, hotel and tourism, teaching and psychology.

When did you first start singing?
I started singing at a very young age. I began professionally at the age of 16 and got signed to Stockholm Records and I am still doing it till today because I love my craft.
Who are your musical influences?
Ella Fitzgerald she is a jazz singer who taught me how to use and see my voice as an instrument. Michael Jackson for his love of music and respect for being an entertainer and musician who never wanted to disappoint his audience. I also admire Whitney Houston, Brandy, R. Kelly, Miriam Makeba, Lucky Dube, Bob Marley, Remmy Ongala, Professor Jay and myself offcoz.

Do you write songs yourself? And if so, how often and what inspires your lyrics?
My English songs and because I was so inexperienced and young I didn’t write so much mostly melody and stuff but for my Swahili album. I was ready to write so I wrote the material myself and is base on things that I experienced in my life so they are like a mini story of my life.

How would you describe your own music?
My own music is a mix of cocktails meaning that I’ve been inspired of all kinds of music so I really can’t label my music not just yet..

Are you signed to any record label?  Have you been approached by one?
No. I am not at the moment. I think it’s the best way for me because I’m a free agent and can do whatever I want. I used to be signed at a label so I know the pros and the cons of being in that situation.

In 2009, under the pseudonym Danuma, you released a number of singles including ‘Summertime’ and ‘Look At Your Man’ produced by Cool James and Janne Ericsson. What has been the public’s response thus far and do you plan on recording more dance tracks in the future?
Ooh, you took me way back! Well I’m not going to be doing anything under that name simply because all I did under that name Stockholm Records which is now EMI is something that I did back then. I now work under the name NURU and I will do more music known as NURU instead of DANUMA. The response was great both in Sweden and Abroad so am grateful. I got to tour with Cool James and Black Teacher and learnt a lot during this process.

Aside your first love music, many of us who have been following your career know you dabble in the fashion world too? Tell us a little bit about your style? Are modeling full-time?
Hahahaah!! Well the modeling thing is not something I’ve done too much of. The interesting thing is that people want me in it but I don’t want to because I’m too short. Besides being a model is hard work!  I love fashion because it’s art and I get that in a much deeper level and my style is very laid back where the word comfortable is the key. I always tell women know your body and dress after it and you will never go wrong and I think Halle Berry is a great example of that.

Photo Credit: Enrique Jaguar

Do you have a fashion icon? Who is your favorite designer?
It’s very hard to just to come up with one name because I have many in mind. I love fashion so I’m gonna have to skip this one. However, I have few people that I think were born to dress well and include Halle Berry, Victoria Beckham, Jackie Onassis, Coco Chanel, Mbilia Belle and my own mother.

What is your biggest fashion obsession?
BAGS, ACCESSORIES AND SHOES.., A girl can never have enough shoes hahahhahaahh.

Coming back to your music, what has been some of the challenges you have faced getting publicity or airplay for your music outside Tanzania?
To tell you the truth the music industry in the West and Africa is very different. Luckily I have experienced both. When it comes to my English material I really didn’t have any problem because the record company does all that and you as an artist do the promos and interviews whether it’s TV or radio so pretty much flow as it suppose to be. With my Swahili project, I have  the Internet as the best tool to promote my songs and music in general, and it has worked thank God!! I have released three singles in Tanzania and I’m grateful that they’ve done really well.

Would you contribute your success as an artist to luck, inspiration, or hard work?
HARD WORK PERIOD! People don’t understand how hard you have to work in this industry and if you use the easy way out it always come back to haunt you. A mix of good people, writers, musicians, producers, support from radio, TV and your own determination and you will make it.

What do you think it is about music that inspires hope and provides a sense of comfort during difficult times?
Music is a universal language that speaks to us all. Music gives comfort, brings happiness and even cured people. To me music is medicine to heartache, disease and even a lost spirit. Music has its own force which is hard to explain and I think that music is one of the greatest gifts that God ever gave to any human being.

Is there anything you would like to tell your listeners, that you want to really stick in their minds, about you and your music?
 I want people to know that I am music lover and that they should experience NURU live because that’s how you get the best of me and my music.

What is next? Are you working on any live performances, CD’s or writing new material …and how can readers hear more of your music?
I’m just finishing up my album my Swahili album which is going to be called WALIMWENGU, and I can’t wait for it to come out. I recently released a new track called ‘Wewe’ with a music video to follow shortly. Don’t forget to catch up with me on FACEBOOK and join me on my fan page and off course on my blog

The Afrikan Child © Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be duplicated without the author's permission. Also, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. General inquiries should be directed to our Web feedback box, accessible from this link or from the footer at the bottom of most pages on our site.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rachel Kiwanuka-Africa's Next Rockstar!

Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds and still have fun at the same time? That’s certainly what this Ugandan singer is doing. Born Rachel Kiwanuka, some 21 years ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Rachel K (as she is known by her fans), was discovered by her musician mother, Halima Namakula. After spending much of her formative years in the States, she heeded her mum’s advice of using the Uganda music scene as a launching pad to her music career by moving back home.

         Her bi-continental upbringing gave her the opportunity to absorb a wide range of music that influenced her musical style. Perhaps partly due to her musical heritage or by sheer bravado, this spontaneous and outgoing lady has always been at ease performing or singing in front of audiences. Since she was a child, Rachel has loved entertaining people! She says it is the highest of highs for her when a performance clicks just right - the air seems to thicken as everyone is sucked into the emotion of the moment, which often lasts long after that moment ends. In the spring of 2005, Rachel auditioned for American Idol when the tour stopped in San Francisco. Although she was did not make the cut for the show, she told me that the experience gave her a deeper gratitude of her God-given talents, a new appreciation for her family and the drive to pursue her interests.

In waning days of 2010, I caught up with Ms. K for an all-access interview in which she discussed in depth how she developed a fondness for T.V and how that led her into hosting a television show. She further told us how she is trying to pass on her acquired knowledge to the up-and-coming stars. The interview is more than just music, it’s about who Rachel K. really is and we are very appreciative to be able to bring it to you.

Could you begin by telling us a bit about yourself?

My given names are Rachel Kiwanuka. I was born on the 1st of November. I am the last child out of four children and the only girl. I am very laid back, down to earth, easy to get along and very friendly.

When and how did you start making music? How did your family shape your singing career?

I started singing at the early age; I was about 8 years old. My mother was very excited about my talent and my strong vocals when she heard me singing “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston. Since then all I can remember was singing in talent shows, going to professional music teachers for vocal training and participating in a performing arts school. As I got older, it became a profession in the year 2006 when I first recorded my first single 'Everytime'. My mother and my 3 brothers have been very supportive. Hemdee Kiwanuka my eldest brother, he has believed in my talent and has always given me the best support a big bro could give. As he has been my business manager, on the other side my Mom has been my personal manager.

Most of us know that your mother, Halima Namakula of the Ekimbewo fame is one of your main influences. Did you ever think that you will be able to follow in your mother's footsteps with respect to your popularity in the music world and do you recall one piece of advice she offered?
My mom has been my main influence and always been my biggest supporter; I guess she is more like my backbone, always holding me up no matter what. Her love and belief in me has gotten me this far and without her I would be lost. Following in her footsteps is one of my goals, becoming a legend like her is one of my dreams. The best advice she offered me is to believe in my decisions, bad or good and to also learn from them. She is the best mother any daughter could ask for; she is labeled the Mother of all the Ugandan artists just because she is an example of a good Mother.

Who have been some of your other musical influences over the years?

The list is long but when I was growing up I listened to the likes of Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton. At the age of 15 I became a fan of Rock Music. I am also a big fan of Alicia keys, Beyonce and Hayley Williams from the Rock band Paramore.

Do you mind describing to us your musical style?

I am fusion. This is a mixture of different styles. Pretty much I have done every style there is!! But I am categorized as a Rockstar and my main passion and real love is Rock.

How did you get to work with Keri Hilson and Akon on the Pepsi “Oh Africa” project? Do you mind sharing with us some of the experiences working with these stars?

Pepsi U.S.A and Pepsi Uganda were looking for a young music artist who was not signed, or launched an album yet, and someone who gives back to the community and a role model to the youth. After the nominations I got a call from someone in South Africa that I was chosen to represent Uganda with Akon, Keri Hilson, and 15 other youth from around the world! It was the call of a lifetime. Both Akon and Keri were soooo cool. I got to have a one on one with Keri, she also listened to some of my music, and gave me a few pointers. Being big celebs, it was surprising they were down to earth and easy to talk too.

You were recently nominated as a Pepsi Ambassador. What has this experience been like so far and when does this end?

It was just ok. Pepsi Uganda supported my music career and I couldn’t ask for more. It just ended.

Earlier this year you were nominated and won in 2 categories, Video of the Year (Rock song, Feel Me!) and Best Collaboration with Bobi Wine (Is it Me) at Diva Music Awards held at the La Bonita Theatre in Kampala. What do these wins mean for your career?

Yes I won two awards, one for the video of the year and another for my best international performances. It really meant a lot to me and it was such a great achievement for this was the first and only rock video ever in Uganda to receive an award. This also opened up so many doors for me to those who didn’t know there was a new Rockstar in town and I have gain much respect locally and internationally.

In researching for this interview, I read somewhere you auditioned for American Idol in 2005. What impression did you come away with from this experience?

Man, it was an experience! I traveled all alone to San Francisco which was like a 6 hr drive to the venue from my home state. I was number 6 in line, out of thousands of people. I slept outside the venue for 2 nights straight!!!!!! Lol. It was crazy, but soo much fun and I met a lot of interesting and talented people. I didn’t make it, but I did learn a lot and that experience made me stronger. You don’t always have to go through American idol to become a star, there are other ways to make it and since then I had never given up. But it was great.

You performed at the Ugandan Festival 2010 on December 18th, how did it go? How did it feel performing alongside Maurice Kiry and Klear Kut?

It was really fun. Maurice and Klear Kut are very talented and great friends of mine and I am sure they enjoyed performing alongside with me. We need more festivals like this one in Uganda and I was very happy to be a part of the festival.

What’s on your I-pod just now?

A lot of different style of music. From Billie holiday to Lady Gaga. Like I said I am fusion and listen to all styles of music.

If you had a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a difference or change the world what would do or how would change the world?

Hmmmm….I would want to change cross generational sex and see to it that men who abuse young girls are imprisoned. Doing them justice will make the world know and realize the consequences they will face by committing such a crime.

Can you describe your style of songwriting? How does it feel sharing writing duties with your mother on the track ‘Every time’?

For me, I write what I am feeling at a particular moment, sometimes it might be my own experience or someone else’s experience, or maybe just what I see or know what happens with everyday people and life. I write most of my songs, but most of the time my mother comes up with the titles. She is a great songwriter and we had good time writing, Everytime. That was my first single and video that was released in Uganda. Immediately it got a lot of airplay on EATV and MTV Base.

Are there any musicians you would love to collaborate with?

 Well internationally I would love to work with beyonce, she and I are kind of similar and do have the same energy on stage. And also I would love to work with Avril Lavigne and Hayley Williams of Paramore .She has a real cool stage presence and knows how to rock out!

Besides music, what other ventures/projects are you involved?

 I believe in social work and I am a member at an NGO that my mother is a founder and a Chairperson called, Women at Work International. I am also a dance teacher and give private lessons. I work with organizations like PACE in their go getters program, empowering young girls and stressing the issue of abstinence. I am also partnering with two young men, Brian of Hot 100 and Humphrey at NBS Television. We have started foundation called Reach A Hand Foundation, where we work with boys and girls from the ages of 12 to 18.

Any parting words for the fans?

Thanks to you all who have supported me since I started hosting Jam Agenda on WBS Television four years ago. Thanks to all of u who have been part of my musical journey, and never gave up on Rachel k. If you have a talent and you are upcoming artists, come to No-End Studios in Kamwokya on Mawanda road, I personally will help you work on vocal development. To all young students, please abstain and stay focused. Life is very precious, and it all starts with you. I love you all, my rockstars. : )

      The Afrikan Child hopes that Rachel K continues to remain true to herself and we have no doubt that she will, because she is clearly a young woman who has both feet firmly on the ground. It is only a matter of time, before she starts to capture some of the musical awards in North America, as she has done in Kampala !

Again, thanks to Ms. Rachel K. for her time and willingness to answer my questions. For more from Rachel, check out her music on her MySpace site… as well as her videos@ You can also purchase Rachel’s music on ITunes and follow her journal entries on her blog , as well as on Twitter @ iamrachelk.

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