Sarah Ndagire: My People's Train
Sarah Ndagire.

Sarah Ndagire: My People's Train

By Peter Allen Kigonya
more from author >>
First published: August 8, 2008

"To every city I will go... Every village, I will reach. They must hear the rhythms my people have sung to, are singing and will sing too. I am a train. My peoples' train. Full of songs, my people sing. Full of rhythm, my people play."

I'm Nigerian buh I love dis song!

I like Ndagire's music, she real.

Wow Sarah you are just being my star!!! This is such a wonderful song. Bravo� You are the Ugandan "India Arie."

Another one! Original, nice, good African romance! Just beautiful! Big up for the Guy who directs yr videos. Good work keep it up Gal!

Sweet, very clean nudity free, big shouts to the producer!!

Right! This gal has something.Go Gal! I just love all the instruments used,makes the music so full of soul and rich.Sarah u are really teaching many guys here that, real music involves real instruments not just keybords. Kale Twongele! Big up big time!

Sarah You got a lot of soul in your voice!! Yesssss! I love your style of singing. True its Unique! keep it up girl. Plus the live instruments- what a change from all the digital music going on around? I loved it!

I too Am A new fan, Love her music as seen on MySpace" but I can't play the songs, on YouTube???? I can see the video but can't hear A thing?????? Helpppppppppppp!

I LOVE THS VIDEO SARAH!!! Thank you for portraying beautiful women (as yourself) with confidence, love and distinction. As one woman to another - thank you!

Very nice! I'm a fan of Sarah Ndagire- good to finally see a video. Love the soft confidence and clarity of her voice.

I love this video. Can somebody help me out with this video. Coz I seem not to get tired of it, I want to watch more and more.

These are some of the comments she gets from around the world about her videos with never a bad comment.

It is a known fact that Uganda is producing a great number of artists when it comes to music. There are Ugandan music videos that are coming out week after week. It is the sign of the times as it is becoming easier and easier to do this. The one thing that Uganda may not be producing as fast is "true musicians". True musicians are ones that can deliver note after note, with clear vocals that are not so corrupted by technology. Technology should not be there to alter, but rather maybe enhance a musician's performance and for the musicians that are surviving on technology alone it is time we introduced them to Sarah Ndagire.

It has almost been two years since our last interview with Sarah Ndagire and a lot has changed in her music. When she came to us in 2006, it was during the initial success of hits such as "Peter" and for a while we tried to constantly put her in that Afrigo Band basket.

However, the more we learn about Sarah, the more music she puts out, we are starting to find out that she is something quite different. The vocals are equally strong... equally clear... equally entertaining. The one thing that remains constant is the quality of music she is producing. She perhaps has the upper hand in range. It is not just the switch between different languages but also the switch between instruments used in her music. There is such a broad variety of style that with each hit and each video, one is left to wonder where Sarah will be taking us next.

 

Sarah Ndagire
Sarah Ndagire.


Peter: Good to have you back Sarah. Our last interview makes you no stranger to UGPulse.
Sarah: Thank you so much Peter. Indeed I am no stranger to UGPulse because I was interviewed by Jane sometime back and I am glad to be back.

Please tell the readers what you have been up to since that time, when you were about to release your 2006 album.
Oh! A lot has indeed happened since then. I released that 10 track album entitled Katitira in 2006, which of course was my first album as a solo artist. It was very well received at a release concert I put up at the National Theatre and is still on demand to date. Of course I shot 3 music videos from that album namely Katitira, Peter and Olikoma Eyo. These too received a very positive response world wide as seen on YouTube. The following year, September 2007, I released my second album entitled Train with 11 tracks. To date, I have been able to make four music videos from this album. This as well was very well received. I have been gigging a lot. I have also been very much involved in working for, and with, older persons, widows and orphans with Gaita Kukibi widows and elderly network. I am also still working with Dembe fm as a presenter.

Sarah Ndagire
Sarah Ndagire.

Now... You have released this well produced, entertaining (intellectually and musically) DVD, My Journey So Far, which I had the pleasure of watching. It is a documentary explaining your journey in the music industry and your journey through life. It is filled with family moments, live performances and it also has your music videos- with a little background to the videos.
I released this 1 hour 15 minutes DVD about 3 months ago entitled 'My Journey So Far'. I have always treasured the people I have met along my music journey so far, the ones that have made me what I am directly or indirectly. I could never pay them enough for their support. That is why I decided to take my fans behind the scenes, just a bit, to show them some of these special people. So, in this DVD, I talk about them and actually one gets to see their faces.

When you watch this DVD, you get to actually get to know me better and sort of imagine where I am going. It includes things like, the schools I have attended, the bands I have worked with, some of my live performance moments, a bit about my family, etc. Then on this DVD, you get to see all my music videos so far which are seven in number. You do not only see them but you get to know about their making, who was involved, how and why the story was developed, location, really like a behind the scenes info.

 Sarah Ndagire - Art and fashion by Stella Atal
Sarah Ndagire - Art and fashion by Stella Atal.

A very interesting DVD... I was glued. One of these videos, Olikomeyo, has always been my favourite video of yours but I was shocked with the extra background on this video. I had to hit the pause button as I was touched with what you had to say about the video...
This song Olikomeyo is really about broken promises and love betrayal. You see, it is easy for people to be faithful and happy with each other when they are younger and still struggling financially. When more money comes into the family, many things change, especially their status. As the saying goes, 'money makes man blind.' This is when one feels that their partner is of a low standard, i.e. 'amuswaza.' Many times, they look for 'better' suitors which doesn't necessarily mean the former is really worse off. This leaves very many people hurt especially the children and wife or husband. By the time they open their eyes, it is often too late. There is no place for them in their former homes. That is what this song is about.

The video of this song is a very special one for me... special in so many different ways. First of all, it features two very special little kids, Sandra and William who are both HIV positive. Their mother died about three years ago leaving them under the care of her sister, Jacinta, a dancer with Afrigo band. She has had to treat them, feed them, pay their school dues, accommodation, dress them, etc. with very little help from her sisters and friends. Their father is still alive but he is not bothered at all about their wellbeing. By the time their mother died, William was very sick and we all thought he wouldn't live through that year. Jacinta would often call me at night whenever William would be taken in ill and we would pray. We sometimes had to borrow money to pay the bills. Actually, Jacinta always had a standing bill at their nearby clinic in Naguru. Thank God, he is still alive and has grown. William is now seven years old and in Primary one while Sandra is eleven years old and in primary five. There are many stories to tell about these kids and Jacinta that I can't tell here now but today, they are better and are receiving treatment from Mild May clinic. William is on ARV's but Sandra has not started.

Olikomeyo by Sarah Ndagire



For better quality click here and then look for "Watch in high quality" link.

Am so happy that I was able to put a smile on the faces of the kids involved despite what they are going through. Everywhere he goes, William still brags about having acted in a movie and that he is a movie star, which I think and feel has lifted his esteem and keeps him going somehow.

When I sit down now and look at this video or listen to the song, I imagine and see many HIV women in the situation of the song. The challenge is bigger.

It seems like your brilliant videos, often simple yet very well executed and dramatic, are the work of mainly two video producers. Olikomeyo is the work of UK based Kaz Kasozi. Tell us a little about this character Kaz for those of us who see a lot of his work but know nothing about him. Who is he and how did the two of you link up?
Wow... Kaz Kasozi, one of the very few focused artists with a very big heart that I have had the chance of meeting and working with in my musical journey so far. I met him through a friend of mine called Ssimbwa Robert at a studio Kaz had set up in Muyenga. We talked and I asked him to help mix down my Katitira song which he accepted to. He liked my demos. He told me about how he had a vision of changing Ugandan music through things like doing quality music and video recordings. We exchanged contacts and kept in touch. He ended up working on almost the whole album and replaying some tracks. He also designed the album cover.

When he later came to Uganda again, He had his video equipment and he shot the video for Olikomeyo. The next question I am sure will be about how much I paid him. I never paid him any professional fees as I did not have the money. Last year when he came back here, we went on to record part of my latest album "Train". Through UGArts, he actually sponsored the other recording sessions of the album in the United Kingdom. He designed the album cover as well and has been helping a lot in promotion of this music. As in he would give me different distribution addresses, online stored, he put up the music videos on YouTube, etc. I will always be glad I met him in my musical journey.

Nyamijumbi by Sarah Ndagire



For better quality click here and then look for "Watch in high quality" link.

How about Warren Segawa...
Warren Cranmer Segawa, is another great person. I have known him for over seven years now. I met him at Institute of Media and Graphics studies at Radio Uganda, when I was doing a course in video production. He is a very hard working, patient and talented man as well as a perfectionist. We did the stories for the videos together and he was always open to ideas. When inspired, we spent quite a number of nights in the editing suit at the National Theatre while editing which very few editors in Uganda today would do. He has supported me in so many ways. I guess he has been able to go that extra mile for me because he is a good friend of mine and is one of my greatest fans.

Like you said, "My Journey So Far", your DVD, not only features your older videos but we are introduced to "Train", your more recent work. My favorite video now is Kunsiko Yaffe. I simply cannot think of a better video of any Ugandan artist right now. How did you and Warren come up with this "Kingdom of Feminia"?

Kunsiko Yaffe



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First of all, this song is in Luganda and the message behind is that a deadly animal "HIV" has attacked us. It is calling upon all the people to get out their weapons and fight it. Now, because the meaning is hidden, the story wasn't easy. Naturally, one would think about a forest, animals, hunting, etc. but we were looking for something different, rare, unique, and abstract. That is how we arrived at a kingdom for and by only women, that we called "the Kingdom of Feminia." The other meaning that I now see is that organizations of and by women can really be in harmony. (laughs) There is not so much argument as we see in the video. The Queen orders and they all go along.

"Peter" by Sarah Ndagire



For better quality click here and then look for "Watch in high quality" link.

Train, your latest album, often with softer soothing vocals, is a very different album from your last album where perhaps some of us labeled you as an Afrigo product... musically. We stuck you in that Afrigo corner. This is especially so with your previous hits such as Peter, Olikomeyo and Katitira. Please explain to UGPulse readers if you agree with this observation and tell us about your current choice of direction in your music.
It is really right when you say that people labeled me as an Afrigo product when I released my first album "Katitira." Thing is, I had just left Afrigo Band after performing with them for about three years and they obviously had an impact on me. That impact was because Afrigo Band plays good music... period! Actually the only songs on that album that made people to label me as an Afrigo product, in my view, are Peter, Twalinga Bato and Keevuge. By the way, Jude Mugerwa, the producer of the song Peter, was trained by the late Tony Sengo, which also explains the Afrgoish in it. Otherwise, Katitira, Akakisa, Olikomeyo, and Yo ono'mwana are different. Surprisingly, those are songs that I composed way back even before it occurred to me that I will ever join in Afrigo band. That is when I was with Light Rays Band. In fact I still have many unrecorded songs in this style that I hope to record later on. For me this shows the greatness in me as composer and musician if my music is likened to a great band or style like Afrigo's. I like Afrigo band and I always go dancing at Club Obligato almost every Friday or Saturday.

Katitira by Sarah Ndagire



For better quality click here and then look for "Watch in high quality" link.

My latest album, "Train" is quite different from "Katitira." These are also songs that I composed or arranged long ago. You see I am this sort of artist who always wants to surprise my fans. I am sure that my next album will also be different from these two. Though I must say that my style of music will lean more on the style of "Train" than "Katitira." This is what I call world music with much influence from traditional Ugandan music and language.

The lead song, Train... tell us about Train. This song, as well as Melody and perhaps many songs on this album done in a variety of languages, make me think that this is what Norah Jones would sound like if she had grown up in Kampala instead of New York City. You did try to tell us about the meaning of Train when we had the pleasure of having you at the recent Nyaka Eire! Concert in January 2008. For those who were not there or for those who wanted to know more... What is the meaning of Train?
Train is the title track of my latest album. It is in a Bakisimba rhythm yet the singing is in both English and Luganda. As you may have realized, I employed both traditional and modern instruments, e.g. embutu, ensasi, engalabi, bass gutar, rhythm guitar, flute, etc. This song speaks for me a lot. It brings out my whole mission as an artist. First of all, I am very proud to be a Ugandan. I am proud of my Ugandan cultural heritage and I want to let the whole world to know about it. That is why I call my self a "train" and I sing that, "To every city I will go... Every village, I will reach. They must hear the rhythms my people have sung to, are singing and will sing too... I am a train, my peoples' train, full of songs, my people sing, full of rhythm, my people play."

"Train" by Sarah Ndagire



For better quality click here and then look for "Watch in high quality" link.

I find this blend of modern music with African instruments and melodies very interesting. It is one of the reasons we chose you as a Nyaka Eire! Concert performer. You performed with Kinobe and Soul Beat Africa. Tell us about your relationship with Kinobe, Michael Ouma and the rest of Soul Beat Africa. First tell us about your experience at the Nyaka Eire! Concert. Then tell us about these musicians and the sort of music they promote.
I must first of all thank you for the opportunity you gave me to contribute to the wellbeing of children by performing at this year's Nyaka Eire fundraising event. It is a very good cause that will always have my support. It was a great experience to see the kids themselves speaking.

 Sarah Ndagire performing at the Nyaka Eire! Concert dressed by Stella Atal
Sarah Ndagire performing at the Nyaka Eire! Concert dressed by Stella Atal.

I enjoyed that performance as I was backed by a great band, Soul Beat Africa. They are the musicians I usually perform with. Jude Mugerwa, the keyboardist, happens to be my producer as well. In fact he played every instrument in the song Peter, the dance mix and recorded all my vocals of the Katitira album. I have known him for over 12 years now. He has been of great help to me because he understands me and my music very well. Michael Ouma, the guitarist played some guitars and traditional instruments on the Train album. In fact he arranged the song Okunde nyowe. He is an amazing musician person. Bakabulindi Samuel is the best percussionist I have worked with so far. He has a great sense of rhythm and jokes a lot making our rehearsals and performances memorable. In fact I always want him on the front line when I am performing. Ambrose Tugume, the drummer and Sewagudde Richard the percussionist are wonderful people too. Allan Okia, the bassist is a very talented musician. He is commonly referred to as "Producer Allan" and has produced so many artists' music like Sweet Kid. Kinobe Herbert is a very talented young man. I have known and worked with him for over 10 years now. Every instrument he decides to take, he becomes a master. He also played traditional instruments on my Train album. I feel that the future of Ugandan music is in these musicians' hands. I feel blessed working with these great musicians and can not wait to go on tour in US with them next year.

Sarah Ndagire performing with Soul Beat Africa
Sarah Ndagire performing with Soul Beat Africa.

Also very notable at the concert and becoming more and more obvious in many of your videos and shows is your fashion. I can now watch you perform and know if she has dressed you or not. Please tell us about the designer responsible for the way you dress.
The designer responsible for my costumes is Atal Stella. A very wonderful young lady. She knows what is perfect for me on and even sometimes off stage. She also happens to be my great fan. Whenever she is exhibiting her clothes and products, it is my music that plays. What an honor! I met her so many years ago when I was still working with a Youth Alive club in Kamwokya. Then, she was an ordinary girl and I hadn't yet started performing on stage. When we met again last year at an art exhibition at Alliance Francaise, we were all grown and had taken professions that could work together. When she listened to my music, she was very impressed and when I visited her fashion studio in Kamwokya, I was amazed and since then, she has taken care of my performance wardrobe including my band. Actually she is a great painter, does interior designing, events decoration and so much more as long as it requires an artistic hand. I personally have painted pots, table cloths, cushions and wall hangings by her.

 Sarah Ndagire dressed by Stella Atal
Sarah Ndagire dressed by Stella Atal.

Well you look great and it is such a clever relationship you have. Her designs are almost as if they are part of the song. An example is the video for Melody...
I cannot imagine anything better than those two attires to wear in that video Melody. When Stella listened to the song and I told her the story for the video, she just took my measurement there and then and simply asked for the date and time of shooting. She was there 2 hour before we started shooting, with my attires and jewelry. She sat through it all and I could not believe. I even remember when we had to start shooting the video for Kunsiko at 6 am, she was there by 5 am, with the costumes, jewelry and body paints then she did the set. Unbelievable! I thank the lord for surrounding me with great people.

Melody by Sarah Ndagire



For better quality click here and then look for "Watch in high quality" link.

What is the next stop for this Train of yours? Where are you heading next?
Still selling Uganda to Uganda (local gigs) for this year, then next year I will head to US and probably other cities and villages with Soul Beat Africa band.

Sarah Ndagire - Train
Buy Sarah Ndagire's Train.

Sarah Ndagire - Katitira
Buy Sarah Ndagire's Katitira.

I know that we can buy your new and older CD online. Where can we get this precious documentary though? I'm sure many readers will want to get the rest of this 1 hour 15 minutes video.
One can only get it by coming to the National Theatre studios during working hours and maybe by calling or emailing me at ugproduct@gmail.com.

"A singing trav-eller... hmnnn... Amazima... To every city I will go... Every village I will reach." Well we definitely can't want till you make it at our destinations. We look forward to that. Thank you for concluding our annual African Women's Week 2008.
Thank you so much Peter.

More on Sarah Ndagire

By Peter Allen Kigonya
more from author >>
First published: August 8, 2008
Peter Allen Kigonya is the founder of UGPulse.com and Freefufu.com. He can be reached at letters@ugpulse.com.