The Observer (Kampala)

25 November 2012

Uganda: Drunk On Zonke's Sweet Melodies

South Africa's star Zonke wowed her Kenyan fans with her great Afrosoul music ( Resource: Zonke Performing Live in Kenya

Ever gone to a concert and the moment you see the lineup you know it's going to be epic?

Zonke's live performance at Emin Pasha hotel last Friday evening, courtesy of Tusker Malt Lager, was one of those concerts. Myko Ouma and Joel Sebunjo were the opening acts. If two of Uganda's biggest names in world music are to curtain-raise, how talented could the main act possibly be?

We chose not to listen to any of the South African's songs before the concert; just to surprise ourselves. So, when Sanyu FM's Fat Boy introduced Zonke as the next big thing to come from South Africa after Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Brenda Fassie, we were like, "That's what he has been paid to say. Brother has to say what he has to say to survive." But it was more than that when she hit the stage with her six-man band at 9:30pm.

She kicked off the show with a groovy song, Namayang, dedicated to her mother, before doing what she does best: singing RnB with some African vibes. Nameless is a song about adoring someone from a distance; you don't know his name or even where he stays but your heart misses a beat every time you see or think about him.

Then she took the tempo a notch higher performing a song dedicated to her father, Viva Dikana, who was part of Black Slave and Flamingo bands. Zonke sang Viva The Legend with so much energy and emotion, giving her all for the man responsible for her musicality.

"I hear them say your name and I know you live in me...," she sang. She sings in both Xhosa and English - but the loudest language is that of the beautiful afro-jazz and soulful rhythm.

If we had paid to get in, it would be safe to say we had gotten our money's worth long before she performed Feelings, her break-through single. Kampalans fell in love with her infusion of dance and soul, but trust the Emin Pasha crowd (which included newlyweds, Princess Ruth Komuntale and husband Christopher Thomas) to stay glued to their seats. That didn't last long though; Jik'izinto and Mzi Kaphalo finally got them to their feet.

Trust a Namasagali alumnus to lead the way in the form of Roy Tumwizire. If you watched The Happy Life Hotel, a production of Namasagali alumni at the National Theatre early this year, you know who I am talking about. He took to the stage with Lowe Scanad's Linda, showing Zonke what 'dancing like nobody is watching' means.

Zonke and her band simply blew us away with their song, dance and engaging the crowd from beginning to the end. Entry to the event was restricted to Tusker Malt's 100 Club members only, providing them with the opportunity to discover rising African music talent and interact with one another via TML100.com.

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