Nneka music has seen her rise to prominence worldwide.

It is criminal that some artistes seem to strike aesthetic gold with effortless ease, while others make careers out of following boring formulas that result in mundane music that lacks character. Nigerian-German artiste Nneka Egbuna is more deserving than lucky to be in the former category.

And come February 9, Ugandans who appreciate the subtleties of music where attention to detail was observed at every stage from conscious composition and arrangement to performance will experience the inaugural show of her tour of East Africa, highlighting songs off Soul is Heavy (2011), No Longer At Ease (2008)—which was re-leased as Concrete Jungle in the US, and her break-out album Victim of Truth (2005).

Soul is Heavy reflects a musical maturity that belies her six-years’ active participation in music. Released after she won a Music Of Black Origin (MOBO) Award in the United Kingdom for Best African Act in 2011, it is an extravagant showcase of her talents playing guitar, rapping, and singing through forms as varied as Soul, Reggae, Rhythm and Blues, and good old Afro-contemporary pop.

The lotus-layered small universe of musical possibilities includes Love Myself with its catchy bass line; My Home, a clever number whose upbeat, dance tempo is at odds with its metaphysical questions by a plaintive voice searching for solace; and Restless, whose laid-back arrangement emphasises the clarity of her words and vocal ability.

Don’t Even Think About It may perhaps be one of the few to easily remember long after, owing to the formulaic chord progression and use of few words in the chorus. Naija is as memorable, more for introduction by a Naija-accent rap detailing the tribulations facing Nigeria, as well as for its poetic, politically-conscious lyrics.

On Do You Love Me? she marries the cello to the seductive strains of the guitar in an exquisite sad-sounding combination. It is perfect for those contemplating their love lives, and also the polar opposite of the toe-tapping, uplifting composition that is My Weakness is My Strength.

Listen past the flamenco-guitar intro and thumpy beat, and V.I.P (Vagabonds In Power) would shock how directly it states issues. For a more philosophical discourse look to God Knows Why on which her succint Naija-accent meets the guttural, gravel-voiced Black Thought, an MC with the Black Roots.

To all these gems and more, she will add material from her workshops on February 8 with our own Tshila Nambozo, whose prowess at the guitar should complement her own, just as Keko’s hip-hop inclinations should find company with Nneka’s ability to Double-Dutch rap and R&B, and for vocal gymnastics Uneven Band’s Irene Ntale will provide the perfect support. Spoken Word artiste Ife Piankhi will that day also transfer her jazz poetry magic from her usual haunt at Soho’s.

The result of this collaborative effort will be unveiled at the Goethe-Zentrum gardens as Speak Out, a concert which promises to celebrate the collective power and spirit of women’s voices and also radiate some of the positive energy which can be sampled on Camouflage, a reggae plea to let people see us as we are so that we can be free from within.

According to Carolin Christgau, the Cultural Coordinator of Goethe-Zentrum Kampala, who are the organisers and sponsors of this project, in their never-ending passion to promote arts and culture the organisation felt it fitting to focus on women, merging Nneka’s international experience with local musicians who were specifically choosen.
But even without Ugandan supporting artistes, Nneka’s is good music for feeling, thinking, and hopefully, acting on the gallery of themes it addresses.

Come, if not to listen to what she will be speaking out against/ for, then come for the promise of good music sung by a gifted, if not extra-ordinary, voice. Assuming it will be a live show, it promises to be spectacular, both for Ugandans and the East Africans who will experience her at the Sauti za Busara Festival where she will conclude her tour of East Africa.

By BRIAN MAGOBA, Daily Monitor

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