GENRE: Ugandan Gospel Music Evolution, Top Artists and Latest Trends
19 November 2020
[Photo Credit:Exodus Instagram]
Over the years, Ugandan gospel music genre has evolved with various artists playing key roles at different evolution stages of the gospel music genre.
In the early years, gospel music in Uganda was characterized by ordinary worship and praise done in church by choirs and traditional drums. The Pentecostal churches (locally termed as 'Balokole') modeled this kind of music. Limit-X; one of the oldest music groups started in 1989 by Dennis Sempebwa, Isaac Rucibigango and Paul Mutebimare considered some of the pioneers of gospel music in Uganda.
At that time, they were worship leaders at the Miracle Centre church. Alongside their pastor, Robert Kayanja they hosted a show on UTV which promoted gospel music. The group later relocated to London, winning Club 291 contest; a British version of New York Apollo contest. Their very first CD 'Unashamed' featured on Britain's Top Ten recommended gospel album charts. They are known for their hit song 'Malibongwe'.
In the mid 90's, gospel music evolved from local churches to hitting studios. Among the early wave of gospel artists was Fiona Mukasa; daughter to late music legend Elly Wamala. She formed a band dubbed 'Wave Band'. Other artists like Father Musala, George Okudi known for his hit song ‘Wipolo’ took radio waves by storm, also taking Ugandan gospel music international.
In 2007, there was a huge boost in the gospel industry when Judith Babirye came on the scene. She became a household name with her hit single 'Beera Nange'. Pastor Wilson Bugembe also rose to fame with his song 'Njagala Kumanya', following it up with albums like 'Yellow', Kani, Ani, among others.
They have since been joined by various new artists like; Exodus, Joseph Ngooma, Levixone, Ruyonga, Zabbuli, Grace Nakimera, Silver Kyagulanyi among others.
The new crop of artists has modernized gospel music giving it a different sound from the previous era.
Unlike before where gospel artists rarely got invites for top gigs in the country, they are nowadays invited and receive almost the same amount with the counterparts in the secular music world. This ia a testimony of the genre’s growth.
Going forward, we can only hope for much better as technology keeps revolutionizing the music industry.