Rachel Magoola
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Rachel Magoola

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"Rachel Magoola takes on smokers"

It has been quite a while since we last heard a song from Afrigo Band
breakaway Rachel Magoola. The songbird who used to wow fans with her
Lusoga song renditions and agile dancing while with the band is back. This
time she takes on folks with a nicotine addiction on her new single
Stop!

(Smoking). Over smooth, engaging zouk rhythms Magoola sternly complains
in English and Luganda about cigarette smokers accusing them of
invading her space and taking the smile off her face. She loathes the foul
smell of the smoker's kiss while simultaneously warning "akutomeza
endiga", the Luganda euphemism for impotence.

She goes on to tick off the numerous cancers that are brought on by
cigarette smoking- breast cancer, bladder cancer, mouth cancer, throat
cancer, cervical cancer and lung cancer. There is a naughty reference on
the inlay card about cancer in the butt that has a shocked Magoola
looking her posterior. There is no missing the costs of smoking to the
pockets seeing that the habit is more prevalent among low-income earners.

The song was commissioned by TEAN (The Environmental Action Network), a
pressure group that has been at the forefront of banning tobacco use.
Its release is timed to coincide with the World No Tobacco Day on May
31 and contribute to the debate surrounding the World Health
Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) already in force in
Kenya, but has not yet been ratified by Uganda.

The single was produced by 2003 Kora-winning singer Pastor George
Okudi, who pleads in a raspy voice that the FCTC be ratified, and recorded
at his Okudi Dynasty Studios. It is a basic song though lacking the
punch of Obangaina and the sleekness of her anti-gossip hit Dhimulese. The
song does not take out any flack on the rising number of female smokers
either.

- The Sunday Monitor/By Moses Serugo


"Rachel Magoola: Busoga's Music Diva and Ambassadress"

You can never leave a Ugandan party or event before you hear her music. In the Diaspora, her song Obangaina is particularly popular. Considering the fact that both her parents were music teachers, it is no surprise that Rachel Magoola rose to stardom on the Ugandan musical scene, first as a dancer and then as a singer. The former Namasagali College student, who currently lives in the UK, honed her musical talent by joining school choirs. Soon, luck simply knocked on her door when she was invited to audition for the famous Afrigo Band, where she became a singer. She blessed the group, not only with her musical skills, but also with her choreography and arrangements. Together with the group, she recorded a few songs, which became hits in Uganda and beyond.
Walinkobye by Rachel Magoola

In 2001, she started her own group and embarked on a successful solo career. Magoola also hosted radio shows like Kampala's Top Twenty and The Morning Crew on Kampala's Capital Radio. Her radio appearances include: Radio Simba's Countdown Africa (on which "Obangaina" was voted number one); Radio Sanyu's African Express; Star FM's Munakatemba, Dembe FM and BBC's Focus on Africa in March 2003. Magoola was also voted one of the 100 most influential women during 1998-90 and voted one of Uganda's top 25 celebrities in 2001. Magoola has six solo albums to her name including Inhaife (1997), Tyenda Wundi (1998), Tonyiiga (2000), Atwibembe (2001), Songs from the Source of the Nile (2006) and her latest album Eisadha, which will be released soon, is still under production by London-based producer Kaz Kasozi.

Magoola is a busy lady. She is involved in charity work as an ambassador and a campaigner for Joyce Clinical Research Centre, spearheading the 'treat for life campaign' to encourage ARV therapies and teaches music to Ugandan children born with the HIV virus. She also runs projects with Hospice Africa. I managed to get her attention during the small break she had between her trip to Cornwall where she was facilitating dance workshops and a gig in Bath, England.

Rachel Magoola
Rachel Magoola.

Jane: First off, I just found out that you are the auntie of another Ugandan musician I interviewed for UGPULSE, Beatrix Byakika...
Rachel: Yes and its lovely to hear from you too. I believe you did an interview with my niece Beatrix last year. That is when your name kept coming up when I spoke to her.

In a good way, I hope...
Of course, she was full of praises for you.

That is great to hear. So let us start this. Please tell us who Rachel Magoola is in your own words. No one knows you better than yourself.
Rachel Magoola is just Rachel Magoola. I love me, I love my family, appreciate my friends, thankful for the life I have, appreciate my God-given talents, don't interfere with other people's business and try to do some good where I can.

Why do people love Rachel Magoola the singer so much?
It is probably because I give 100% during my performances. I love what I do and I believe it shows and is infectious.

When did you decide to get involved in music full-time?
That was in 2001. It was becoming tricky juggling a public service job and running a music business. There were times when I needed to travel out of the country during the school term. It would take a very supportive head teacher to let me take time off.

Do you think that having two music-teachers for parents is what led you to become a singer?
No doubt about that. We were exposed to music at an early age. Kids tend to copy everything their parents do at - least in the early stages. I lapped it all up full throttle.

Do you have other side-gigs or is music all you are focused on?
I chip in whenever I can at my mother's private primary school in Uganda. For the whole of 2007, I was helping set up the private teacher training section there. I am proud to say that it is going very well. 27 out of the 35 pioneer students passed their promotional exams set by Kyambogo University.

As a Namasagali OG (old girl), would you say that going to that school influenced you, musically?
Namasagali helped me nurture what I already had. The school ethos, which encouraged creativity, dance and music of every kind, helped me become more adventurous, inquisitive and daring to go for what I believe in.

You were once part of one of Uganda's greatest bands, Afrigo. What was that experience like?
One that will remain with me for the rest of life. I love Afrigo. I got the kind of experience people pay loads of money to get free of charge. In Afrigo, you grow as an artist. You learn that there is no short cut to excellence or real fame. That is a lesson that helps one to survive this industry.
Endagaano - live with Kaz Kasozi (and tribute to late King of Busoga)

You released your first solo album Inhaife in 1997. What was your thought process as you were creating that album? How did you want it to be interpreted and received?
When I joined Afrigo, I brought in songs - UGPulse.com/ by Jane Musoke-Nteyafas


"Magoola’s world music expedition"

If there is anything that the cover of Rachael Magoola’s latest album, Eisadha, prepares you for, it certainly isn’t the music style that it carries. The contrast lies in the contemporary look of the cover that has no hint towards Magoola’s huge step towards the international stage of world music with Eisadha.

It is rather unfortunate that the former Afrigo Band vocalist/dancer is still carrying Obangaina as the milestone in her music career that seems to have taken a different direction. Fortunately, she has not entirely changed course but picked on a few characteristics and taken them with her on her new voyage.
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What Rachael Magoola carried on her Eisadha is the kind of material that has seen African music icons like Youssour N’Dour break across the African audience to be appreciated globally. If she is to have an Eisadha World Tour, you would feel more comfortable taking a ‘foreigner’ with you. This is music with identity.

Eisadha borders on the facts of the Ugandan 2006 elections. Without the names, of course, it is a commentary of the drama at the polls in a David versus Goliath confrontation. No surprises that it runs along the saying to the effect that when you chase a fellow man you should save some ‘return’ energy, and calling on Ugandans to accept defeat.

Endagano is one of the three songs in Luganda on the album, It is good enough even to the artiste and producer Kaz Kasozi who felt it deserved a reprise that brings a raw, sensual voice without the salsa beat that it carries in the main, dance version.

With a direct translation of ‘agreement’, the singer promises to love and care for the loved one; calling him the favourite, cherished drink that should not be picked up by vultures. The other one is Mirembe that bears a lot of inclination to folk music, carrying gentle drums in the background of what sounds like a thumb piano or adungu.

This time the love theme comes in form of a greeting for the beloved that the singer confesses she thinks about endlessly. Akatabo then takes it to the next level through the book image; ‘I gave the book to Jimmy... he is the one who knows how read it,’ she sings.

She drops the image in the chorus to sing about how she got fed up and got herself someone who cares about her, then digs deep into the image with insinuations towards a sex theme. ‘He liked it...opens the pages slowly... and you enjoy the book....’ It is produced to capitalise on the lyrics with very little percussion.

The closest we get to the vibrant dance music that we know Rachael Magoola for on Eisadha is with Bwobule’sente that talks about the respect that comes with money. The song goes on to explain that when you are poor you don’t get a seat in church, your in-laws despise you and your suggestions in meetings are turned down because they have no support.

It is equally subject-driven to advise people to forget about jealousness and work hard. Along the same lines is Work Work; a Lusoga and English combination that you have got to work hard for your money to enjoy it.

This is a perfect continuation of Rachael Magoola’s re-invention on the World Music stage. Despite its inconsistencies; like the failure to give some of the songs the true African percussion feel-the album takes Magoola away from the trend of today’s Ugandan music into a league of her own. - Daily Monitor/ ENOCK K. KIMBOWA


"Rachel Magoola set for Zanzibar festival"

A handful of Rachel Magoola enthusiasts got a foretaste of what the sweet-voiced star will treat festival audiences at Zanzibar’s Sauti za Busara World Music festival come Sunday February 15. Rachel has been mostly absent from the Ugandan music landscape since her breakaway from Afrigo Band. That is mostly because she’s been making the transition from bubblegum pop princess to World Music queen. The opportunity cost of that metamorphosis is that she has had to turn her back on mainstream synthetic pop to niche organic music that places emphasis on live music instrumentation on her audio releases. Die-hard fans can now listen to the all-new Rachel off her latest release Eisadha, a nine-song set that paints social commentary on the 2006 Parliamentary and Presidential elections. The new releases breathe new life into Ugandan rhythms and have a lingering acoustic feel and samplings from further afield that include Arhmaic sounds. Friday’s do was brief and precisely the 40-minute duration of her performance at the idyllic Indian Ocean island. She will join up to 40 acts at a tropical carnival-like party that will enchant cultural tourists for six days.

Rachel’s song list started off with Aimwiguru Orurembo, a Runyakitara chant that used congas to replicate the stomp rhythms and the signature flute sound form Western Uganda. Omwoyo Gunuma is a new song off her new world music release, an acoustic guitar driven number about a restless heart. Inhaife has Rachel paying homage to the Kyabazinga, the monarch of the Busoga kingdom of which she is a subject. “This is a song my mother loves,” Rachel said acknowledging her mother’s presence who is also her number one fan. Eisadha is the song that chronicles the 2006 parliamentary elections incident where a younger opponent sought to overturn Rachel’s mum’s election saying she did not have the requisite qualifications to be a legislator. Vooto had a hip-shaking Rachel dig up this favourite while background vocalist Mathew Nabwiso played the hen-pecked hubby that is castigated for not buying among other things Christmas garb. Eyawun’emali, had her eight-piece band pounding drum beats with keyboardist Jude Mugerwa delightfully replicating xylophone sounds of North Eastern Ugandan while Rachel took the audience the through the song’s tongue-twisting lyrics. Rachel’s Zanzibar entourage will include Soul Beat Africa ace keyboardist Jude Mugerwa on keyboards and Ambrose Tugume on drums, enough to guarantee that she will leave a lasting impression at the festival. Air Uganda is funding part of her trip with three complimentary tickets, which may explain why she was garbed up in the airline’s crème and chocolate brown colours.
- http://kampalaone.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=82:rachel-magoola-set-for-zanziba


Discography

Inhaife 1997
Tyenda wundi 1998
Tonyiiga 1999
Atwibembe 2001
Songs from the source of the Nile 2006
Eisadha 2008

Photos

Bio

Uganda singer Rachel Magoola was born to two music teacher parents and started singing at an early age. She was involved in music throughout her youth at school and within her local church. She later trained as a music teacher and on qualifying, taught for eleven years at Namasagali College, a secondary school and Kaliro Primary teacher training college. Her college choir represented the region several times at the national level music competitions.

From 1989 to 2001 Rachel performed professionally with Uganda’s top group, The Afrigo Band, before moving on to a solo career. She is now a successful artiste in her own right, having produced four solo albums, Inhaife in 1997, Tyenda Wundi in 1998, Tonyiiga in 2000 and Atwibembe 2001.

These albums earned her much respect from her fellow artists and amongst the Ugandan public. “Obangaina”, one of the tracks on her debut album Inhaife, was a smash hit countrywide and arguably the biggest hit in the history of Ugandan popular music. For example, it was Number One on Capital Radio’s Coca-Cola Hot 7 at 7 for 30 consecutive days, a record. The video promos for “Inhaife” and “Vooto” were extensively played on national TV UTV [now UBS], on commercial stations such as WBS and other terrestrial TV stations.


Rachel later hosted radio shows like Kampala’s Top Twenty and The Morning Crew shows on Capital radio. Other radio appearances include: Radio Simba’s Countdown Africa (on which “Obangaina” was voted number one); Radio Sanyu’s African Express; Star FM’s Munakatemba; Dembe FM and BBC's Focus on Africa in March 2003. Magoola has been featured numerous times in local Newspapers. In a New Vision poll, she was voted one of the 100 most influential women for 1998-90.

She was also voted one of Uganda's top 25 celebrities 2001. She wrote the awareness song “Take Me As I Am” for the Sickle Cell Association of Uganda (SAU). The song was first performed at the British Council-hosted launch of SAU in 2002. “Take Me As I Am” has been greatly appreciated by Emeritus Professor Graham Serjeant, the World's top authority on sickle cell disease. Another of Rachel's hits, “Bakulimba”, was selected as one of the songs on a CD Flavours of Sound compiled by the Commonwealth Secretariat for its warning messages about underage relationships and related risks among the youth. Rachel later wrote “I am not a Toy” for the girl education movement and “Under the Sand” was Rachel's effort at creating more awareness about HIV/AIDS and a call for behavior change among the youth.