East African Music - African Radio
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Doug Paterson's Music Projects...
Back in 2003, the Ugandan vocalist and dancer Rachel Magoola came across this website, EastAfricanMusic.com. She sent me a note with the simple observation that despite my calling this the East African Music website, the site didn't have anything about Ugandan music. She was right, Uganda is certainly part of East Africa but, as I have explained elsewhere, I can only write about what I know. Invited Rachel to write me a piece that I could use as an overview of Ugandan pop music. I'm still waiting for that; but in the meantime, she sent me a disc of her music as a vocalist with the Afrigo Band and as a solo performer. She asked for any help I could provide in getting her music released internationally. In this project, we worked with people at ARC Music Productions in the UK. We chose a dozen songs which I sequenced and prepared for mastering by the ARC producers. I wrote the CD notes which appear below. The CD was released in 2006.
Rachel has a new CD Eisadha just out at the end of 2008. See the bottom of this page for details.
Rachel Magoola: Songs from the Source of the Nile (available from Amazon.com)
Spanning the 1990s, Rachel Magoola was a vocalist and dancer in Uganda's most successful pop group, Afrigo Band. After more than eleven years with the group, she left Afrigo to pursue a solo career-a career off to a quick start with four solo CDs to her credit and some major Ugandan hits along the way. This ARC Music release draws from all four CDs and captures the essence of this evolving artiste.
Music and dance were always a significant part of Rachel Magoola's formative years growing up in rural Uganda. Both her parents were music instructors, in fact, teaching students who would become teachers themselves. Right from the start, Rachel and her siblings were encouraged to sing and were exposed to all sorts of music from Uganda and abroad. Early on, she caught the show business bug: "… all through my childhood, I always wanted to be on stage." Rachel was performing in school choirs from the age of seven right through secondary school. But that wasn't always enough for her. While still in secondary school, she joined a band, albeit for what turned out to be a pretty short tenure. When the school administration found out about it, they expelled her, clearly too "wild" and "crazy" for this school. She did finish up her secondary education, however, and went on to teachers training college where she qualified as a music teacher in 1989. Following in her parents' footsteps, Rachel got a position teaching music in a college about two and a half hours outside of Kampala, Uganda's capital.
Now she was ready to join a band, but not just any band. Starting at the top, she made a pitch to Afrigo Band citing her musical background, vocal experience, and her considerable song writing skills. They took her on. At first, it was a learning experience and training ground for her onstage but she also enriched Afrigo with her knowledge of traditional song and dance from locations across Uganda. Every Friday she made the two and half hour trip from the college to Kampala for the weekend gigs and then it was back to the college on Monday morning. As she matured in the band, she took on greater singing roles as the band began playing and recording more of her songs. She served as the band's choreographer and was also involved in working out band arrangements. As a fifteen (or so) piece band, Afrigo has a whole vocal corps of stars in their own right but Rachel distinguished herself singing and composing a number of the group's top hits of the 90s and early 2000s. Wanting to be something more than just a part of the group, Rachel started her own nine-piece group in 2001.
The songs contained here are a mix of Rachel's own compositions and adaptations of traditional songs in pop music form. Her songs borrow on various tribal traditions and languages from Uganda and beyond. There is great variety in rhythm and style. Asante, for example, borrows from coastal taarab and her own Soga traditional rhythms and merges Congolese guitar on top of it. Other traditional melodies and Rachel's compositions take form in reggae, zouk, or other African pop styles-all with Ugandan rhythms, melodies, languages, and sensibilities in the blend. The traditional Gwendayira, starting off the CD, is just one beautiful example of such a blend with complex, rolling percussion intertwining with a lusciously rich and fast moving bass and Rachel's delicate, ethereal vocal firmly in command. Enjoy them all! Douglas Paterson
CD notes by Douglas B. Paterson ©2006 ARC Music Productions International, Ltd.
Here is where you can get more information and listen to samples of her new album.
I like it. It's got a warm, earthy feel and it's a nice progression for her from previous release, Songs from the Source of the Nile. Doug
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To contact Douglas Paterson, send email to DPaterson@EastAfricanMusic.com.
Last updated 19 January, 2009.