4 February 2018

Rwanda: Tusker Project Fame's Mbabazi on Redefining Her Music Career

Tusker Project Fame created a good platform for Rwandan contestant Phiona Mbabazi when she was evicted in the first weeks of the show back in 2013.

The exposure made it easy for her to connect to the music world when she returned, with music producers anticipating on what she had learned from the music academy, and immediately released her first single 'Winyibutsa', which was produced by Kina Music.

The song received sufficient airplay but just as she was beginning to make a name for herself, she put her music on a halt, to concentrate on her Medical Laboratory Technology degree at Mt. Kenya University.

"As someone who studied sciences in high school, I had always wanted to be a doctor and had many reasons for that. My father never believed that a girl would juggle music and school at the same time.

I didn't want to indulge in music and have less time for school. I couldn't balance the two or give music too much of my time. I had to first go for school and think of doing music full time later," she reveals.

Using her talent to acquire an education

Mbabazi's musical talent catered for her primary education, in Uganda. She recalls the day she was attending a Music, Dance and Drama (MDD) class when her head teacher spotted her talent.

She struck a deal with her mother, who as a single mother struggled to pay for her education, and decided to pay for her primary education provided she participates in all the MDD shows in school. The school mentored and monitored her into improving her talent.

Realising her God given weapon, the singer chose to stay the course and hustled her way into the Tusker Project Fame Academy. Meeting her in person reveals a fighter who presents herself in a way you are sure to get it real and raw.

Despite her school concentration, she has always found herself back on stage, performing live in her band, Phyz Super Band or in a music recording studio, given her ability to sing and perform in different genres and languages. Working through several gigs also enabled her pursue her dream course.

"I want to do music to sponsor me into my other career. I am not the kind who wants to knock on somebody's hospital for a job but I instead want to employ other people. That is why I went to school," she says.

Having graduated in July last year, she is hungrier to pursue her childhood dream, and is inspired by her future self.

"As a Christian, I know that what you believe is what you become. Right now it's hard for someone to tell me that I am ordinary because I will live my life as someone who is extra ordinary. Right now I feel like whatever I do fits in what I want to do."

As a song writer, she is inspired by real life and humanity. Several areas and circumstances in life have inspired her to raise awareness. As such, she has a number of songs that she has kept for a long time and for her, now would be the right time to begin releasing them.

"I have a couple of love songs because it has introduced me to the world of music but someday when I grow my music, I will be able to stand on my own. I believe so much in humanity and feel so much for people that are broken.

Each time I compose songs, it will be about someone crying. Such songs are piled up somewhere but my heart always craves to release them."

Being a woman like Miriam Makeba, and Angelina Kidjo who made an impact worldwide is how she envisions her future.

"They are more than just musicians and that is what I want to be but I believe that our generation can do better because they did not have the privileges like we have today, such as social media and platforms to air our views. I want to add my brick unto theirs into building a better world," she retorts.

She also points out a number of female artistes that have and continue to influence her musically. These, she says, will help her in redefining her music career.

"I like Beyoncé for her energy and hardwork. And then, Naava Grey for the discipline and integrity and beautiful voice. She always has a message to give and not just sing for the sake of singing. I really adore her for that."

"I like Juliana Kanyomozi for the composure while Adelle is supernatural. I like how she makes her choices and lets her talent lead her way. She inspires me to choose what I want for myself and not what the world thinks of me. From her I realized I don't have to dress skimpily to release hit songs."

"Time goes around and this is the time to pick a leaf from those ladies. I want to tell the ladies to come back to their world and not let the influence of social media change them. It's time to find their roots and be real."

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