The Observer (Kampala)

7 March 2013

Uganda: Kaweesa, the Artiste Studying Music

You may not have seen him, but you have most probably heard Richard Paul Kaweesa sing. Also called Richy, Kaweesa is that voice behind Esther Nabaasa's, if you listened keenly to our jubilee song, Yoga Yoga. "I am passionate about music and I know the sky is the limit," says the 21-year-old singer and guitarist.

Last week, as he played some of his songs at Cayenne in Bukoto, ladies got up on their feet and screamed their hearts out. "Richy is my best," they shouted. He played such songs as True Love, Mama, and Will You Dance, his collabo with Atlas.

How it began:

It all started back in P.7 at Jubilee School, Seguku, where he occasionally attended poetry sessions and mimed songs. He vividly remembers how he sang Redemption Song by Bob Marley, and mimed some of the Kirk Franklins' songs - both experiences "were crucial to lead me into the music arena."

During his P.7 vacation, he went to a studio for the first time in 2002. "That's when I recorded my first song, Selective, with a group called RPZ," he recalls. Unfortunately, the song did not do well but it set the tempo for his future works. In 2009, Talent Africa, a group that manages musicians spotted him and took him under its wings.

Soon after, through Talent Africa, he sang Missing you, featuring Navio. The song was well received that he later recorded a song with the defunct Blu*3; unfortunately, the track never got released. "The hard disk broke down and we never got a chance to let it out," he explains.

Fate smiles:

The Blu*3 episode didn't deter him and when Jamaican star Sean Kingston came last year, Kaweesa got a chance to curtain raise. "It was a big opportunity for me," he says with a beam on his face. In Talent Africa, he was at the same level as Navio, who is also managed by the same group; that realisation "challenged me to work even harder."

Moving on:

Late 2011, however, his contract with Talent Africa ended - to Kaweesa, he still did not have to show. He decided to take a break from music for a couple of months. "It was the time I had to reflect and know where I was heading in my musical journey," he muses.

He says he sat down with his father and he was advised to first get a diploma in music. Currently, he is studying at the Makindye-based African Institute of Music (AIM). This year, another group, Konekta, has signed him up. The group is led by a Batenga Nakisozi, based in the United States. "In the last couple of weeks I have worked with the group, there is pretty much we have achieved and we hope for the best," he says.

Achievement:

Kaweesa says his biggest achievement so far is that he has grown musically and been able to meet and appreciate many talents in the country. "My guitar skills have improved, my voice has grown and I have met so many people in the industry. This has not only exposed but has also helped me grow."

Inspiration:

He draws inspiration from diverse artistes, but Damien Marley, a three-time Grammy award winning Jamaican reggae artiste tops his list. Marley is also the youngest son of the late Bob Marley. He also looks up to Maurice Kirya for his modesty and success in the music industry.

"But I like it when someone does something good. And if it's a nice song, I think I will like it," says Kaweesa. "Some people compare me to John Legend, but me I say those shoes are too big for me but I know I will get there."

Worst moment:

At one moment, he was called to sing at a function but as he stood waiting for his turn, the bouncer, who didn't know him, asked for a tag that showed he had paid for entrance. "I didn't have the tag and the guy threw me out." On some other occasion, he was removed from a musicians' desk as they thought he wasn't a musician.

Interests:

When he is not doing music, Kaweesa takes some time off to play basketball. "Our team is still in the third division. I must say my dribbles have improved immensely although I wouldn't recommend anyone out there to look out for me," he says. He also likes to hanging out with friends, enjoys comics and football; and Barcelona is his team.

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