Ugandan Musicians: Meet Maurice Kirya
Maurice Kirya.

Ugandan Musicians: Meet Maurice Kirya

By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
more from author >>
First published: September 8, 2006

"Maurice Kirya was a sensation at the MTV base LIVE! event in 2005!"

Alex Nkosi, Vice President & General Manager, MTV Networks Africa, In Top Star Online Magazine

He is definitely pleasant to look at, and he is also touted as one of the best East African performers. Maurice Kirya who is notably known for his guitar skills is a two time nominee for the Pearl of Africa Music Awards and he was also nominated for the Kisima Awards in Kenya. His song Binadamu which he collaborated on with Tanzania's Swahili rap star AY was nominated for the Kora awards. Kirya comes from a notoriously musical family. Kirya, who was born in 1984, is the brother of Krazy Native a.k.a Saba Saba and Vamposs, two other veterans in the Ugandan music scene.

Maurice Kirya
Maurice Kirya.

The tall, dark and handsome Kirya's voice has been described as silky and golden by fans and critics alike. Kirya is known for his range of lyrical and vocal skills which vary from traditional RnB to acapella to improvisation. His musical style is described as a unique blend of soul, afro and RnB sounds. He likes to call his musical style "fusion soul". He has had two songs on Sanyu FM's East African countdown: Lets Go and Beera Naabo. Njagala Gwe, is one of the latest tracks from the Ugandan R&B singer. Njagala Gwe was recorded by Fred Walusimbi, also known as Wallace, at First Love Studios. He has performed alongside Angella Katatumba, Juliana Kanyomozi and Bobi Wine. Upon interviewing him, I found him to be a man of few words, but I managed to squeeze something out of him.


Jane: Some people spell you name as Morris and others spell it as Maurice. Which one is it?

Maurice: Maurice is the correct one.

You are quoted as one of the most talented singers in Uganda. How does that make you feel?

Maurice Kirya
Maurice Kirya.

Wow, it's a big compliment, considering that there is so much talent in Uganda. That comment makes me feel stronger and more confident, but I am not going to let it get to my head.

When did you first start singing?

I have been singing ever since I was a little kid. My mother would gather all of us together and teach us gospel songs. I started singing as a professional when I was 15 years old.

How would you describe your musical style?

I like to describe my musical style as fused soul. Why? Because it's a blend of RNB, afro, soul, and blues.

Where did you learn to play the guitar?

It was in Kampala, Uganda several years ago. I met an old man who found out that I had much love for the guitar. He noticed that I carried it with me all the time and yet I could not play a thing, so he offered to teach me. His name is Jackson Kimera.

What about the piano?

I started playing the piano in 2004. A friend of mine called Dennis taught me whenever he was free, and since I was the lead singer in the band u4ria, I would get to practice during rehearsal breaks.

You have performed at Rwakitura (the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni's home). What was that experience like?

It was very exiting performing at the president's home, and I was a little bit nervous because of the high security but it was an amazing experience.

Any memories of performances you want to share?

Sure, performing at the Kisima Awards was something I will always remember. It was the first time I performed in Kenya, and I received so much love from the audiences, yet I was a total nobody in Kenya. I enjoyed performing with 2face Idibia at the MTV base live show in Uganda. I was one of the three Ugandans chosen to perform.

Who did you listen to as you grew up? Who is influencing you today?

I grew up listening to all kinds of music, since everyone in the house listened to different styles of music, such as hip hop, RnB, soul, reggae, beautiful African music and today I am greatly inspired by India Irie, Youssou N'dour, Wyclef Jean, Common, Awadi, Bataka Underground and John Legend,

Tell me what inspired you to sing the hit song "Binadamu" which you recorded as a 'collabo' with Tanzanian bongo singer AY.

I wanted a song that would appeal to the people who don't take work as a seriously important issue for they can suffer the consequences that I sing about in the song. I wanted people to be inspired to think about tomorrow and not just today.

Maurice Kirya
Maurice Kirya.

What inspired your afro-soul track, Beera Naabo?

I always wanted to write a song that so many people could relate to. "Beera Naabo" is a song about a love gone bad because of false rumors. The girl decided to listen to rumours her friends were telling her and the relationship goes sour.

I hear that at one of the WBS (Wavah Broadcasting Service) Television anniversaries you impressed Yvonne Chaka Chaka. Is that true?

Yvonne Chaka Chaka had seen me perform at the Pearl of Africa Music Awards. There was a rumor that she was impressed, so when she was singing at the WBS Television ceremony, she pulled me out of the audience along with my brother Elvis Kirya a.k.a Vamposs. So we sang one of her songs with her. She is a beautiful and amazing musician.

You were is one of the musicians who was given the task to record an East African anthem alongside Suzzanna Owiyo and Pauline Zongo from Tanzania. What was that like?

It was a good experience. It was wonderful for me to be able to collaborate with them and we got rave reviews. We didn't get any complaints. Thank God. 

You joined the Thug Squad and Bataka Underground before working with BENON and VAMPOSS, but decided to go solo. Why was that?

The reason why I went solo is because I wanted to discover myself musically. I was on a quest to discover my uniqueness. I think that when I was in the various groups it was disguised to even me myself, but I still get to work with everyone that I've worked with before.

What about your music? Who produces your music?

I always co-produce all my songs. I write them, and I can work with any producer, provided were heading the same direction. I have worked with producers like Ted Josiah in Kenya, Steve Jean, Andrew Kiwanuka, Ngoni, Fred Walusimbi from Uganda, YZ from Denmark, and Indigenous from Belgium.

What's up with the Maurice Kirya band? Do you actually have a band?

I do have people who play with me when am doing live gigs, but I rent the equipment. Does that mean I have a band?

You tell me.

I guess it does.

Did you know as a child that you would be doing what you are doing now?

Yes. I had a dream. I believed in it. I still do, and for now, I am living that dream bit by bit. I knew these days would come.

You performed at the Celtel sponsored East African Carnival at Munyonyo earlier this year. How surreal was that?

It worked out well. They put their trust in me, and that made me work harder to satisfy everyone.

What do you think of the general Ugandan Music scene?

It is developing every single day, and there is lots of talent.

What about the East African scene?

Massive.

What do you think of your brother Krazy Native's Music?

He believes in himself. He is honest, patriotic and it all reflects in his music. He is amazing!

What about Vamposs- Elvis Kirya?

Beautiful dancehall music. Just the thought of it makes me want to dance.

Who is your favourite musician?

India Arie.

Now you are obviously a good looking man, and I am sure you have lot of female fans. Are you a ladies man?

Am I? Really? Anyways. Thank you, I don't know if I am the ladies man, but it would be nice to hear that from the ladies once in a while. I mean you read these things in the paper, but the ladies don't really tell you. For the record, I know you always ask this question. I am not in a relationship.

Maurice Kirya
Maurice Kirya.

Thanks for clarifying.

My pleasure.

What's next for you?

I am working on releasing new videos, songs and an album before the end of the year.

Any words of advice?

 

It's like dealing with the devil when you throw your esteem away. Believe in yourself. Don't let the devil win.

By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
more from author >>
First published: September 8, 2006
Jane Musoke-Nteyafas, poet/author/artist and playwright, was born in Moscow, Russia and currently resides in Toronto, Canada. She is the daughter of retired diplomats. By the time she was 19, she spoke French, English, Spanish, Danish, Luganda, some Russian and had lived in Russia, Uganda, France, Denmark, Cuba and Canada.

Jane won the Miss Africanada beauty pageant 2000 in Toronto where she was also named one of the new voices of Africa after reciting one of her poems. In 2004, she was published in T-Dot Griots-An Anthology of Toronto's Black storytellers and in February 2005, her art piece Namyenya was featured as the poster piece for the Human Rights through Art-Black History Month Exhibit.

She is the recipient of numerous awards for her poetry, art and playwriting and is becoming a household name in Toronto circles. Please visit her website at www.nteyafas.com.