The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Joel Sebunjo Wins French Music Award

It's said prophets are not celebrated at home. This has always been true in regard to the Ugandan world music artistes; little known here yet revered abroad.

First it was Maurice Kirya winning the RFI Discovery award in 2010, and now, the multi-instrumentalist and kora player Joel Sebunjo has followed in those footsteps. Joel was mid last month announced winner of the prestigious Visa Pour la Creation award by the French government, through the Institut Francais, for his outstanding contribution to the field of music.

The Visa Pour la creation being a residency programme, Joel will in March this year travel to Paris where he will fellowship with a number of professional world music producers and stars. According to the institute website, they recognize young professional, yet exceptional musicians from Africa. In the past, they have awarded artistes such as Alif Naaba, Elie Kamano and Naby, among others.

For an award looking at exceptional abilities and ideas of African musicians, it's no surprise that Joel, 29, eventually won the prestigious award. Joel and his support band, Sundiata, represent a new generation of African musicians, with a pan-African approach to music. On receiving the news, Joel went onto the social network to spread the love.

Joel is one of Uganda's best world music exports; he has performed alongside legendary artistes Yossou N'dour, Salif Keita, Miriam Makeba, Oliver Mtukudzi, and Didier Awadi, among others. Like he says, his music is a marriage between Ganda and the Mande traditions - music meant for special ears. Joel has always captured and dazzled fans on his shows with some of his best works such as Bulungi, Djeli and Nakato, a collaboration with Jamal.

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