Lily Kadima: My passion to please my fans drives me

Saturday October 26 2019

Lillian Nazziwa Birungi

Lillian Nazziwa Birungi performs with her band on October 18, 2019 at The National Theatre in Kampala. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI | NMG 

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Lillian Nazziwa Birungi, popularly known as Lily Kadima, was born in Kampala. Her musical career started in various church choirs in Kampala.

She joined Bantu Band during her third year at Makerere University. Bantu Band performed at the Grand Imperial Terrace in Kampala.

She left Bantu Band for the Ugandan outfit called Rock Shield Band in South Sudan, which was later renamed Fusion Band when they returned to Uganda.

She performed with Fusion Band for one and half years where she released her Lusoga folk pop hit single Akuloga (Love is blind). Akuloga won the Best Eastern Song award at the 2013 HIPIPO Awards in Uganda.

She launched her solo career at a concert at the National Theatre in Kampala on August 29, 2016.

She released her debut 13-track solo album Ighe Olinaki in August 2018.


She wrote most of the songs on this album, such as Otandiza, Someone Loves You, Ndimugumu, Oli Bulikimu, Wekunkumule, Nazaala, Tonkutulanga (Don’t Ever Let me Down), Why Are You Slow and Ighe Olinaki.Nagalyaaku (I only want him) was written by Niece Henry, Akabbobbo by Alex Mutumba aka (Lexi logic), and Tonumya by Jonathan Jexta.

On her inspiration for the album she says: “It is the about my self-discovery and my potential as a live music singer. I want to use my struggles to empower young people to embrace Uganda traditional rhythms to boost Ugandan music. We miss out on a lot when all we do is complain and compare ourselves to others.”

Her second and third albums are expected soon.

Kadima’s raspy vocals and Afro-fusion brand of music borrows from a wide range of Ugandan rhythms and modern sounds and genres.

She has performed at the Bayimba International Festival of the Arts and Pearl Rhythm Festival and many other platforms in Uganda.

She staged her first Ighe Olinaki Concert at the Jinja Sailing Club in Jinja District in 2018.

Kadima, hails from Budondo, Jinja District in Eastern Uganda. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism from Makerere University.

What has it been like going solo?

I launched my solo career in 2016 and it has not been easy, but my passion for art and music pushes me and I know was born to entertain.

What drives you as a musician?

My passion to please my fans.

What do you sing about in your music?

I mainly sing about love, my upbringing in Kampala suburbs and coming from a Christian household gospel music also influences me. Other issues such as injustices, nature, diversity and art feature in my songs and I plan to tackle politics in my next project, which is coming soon.

Who are the musicians who have influenced you the most in your music career?

My father used to have albums of Lucky Dube, Micheal Jackson, UB40, Paul Kafeero, Chaka Chaka, Angelique Kidjo, Brenda Fassie and Kanda Bongo Man.

Musicians that have influenced me are Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Lauryn Hill, Dolly Parton, PJ Powers, Etta James, Tina Turner, Bob Marley, Billy Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, among others.

My fans introduced me to music from Janis Joplin, Tshala Muana, Amy Winehouse, Pink, Oliver Mtukudzi, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and Prince.

You are among the few female live music artistes in Uganda. How do you handle this male-dominated scene?

Pretty tough, although I am Kadima the creative artist and I don’t compare myself with any one else. I walk fearlessly and leave the rest to the creator.

Do the male musicians intimidate or bully you?

Definitely but I pay no attention and just focus on my music.

What are your observations of the Ugandan live music circuit? Is it growing?

Yes its growing but we still have a long way to go. I am a little sad about the current music status in Uganda; everyone is a muyimbi (Luganda for a musician) with no clear vision. I pray for a better art and music scene for the next generation.

You said your mother wanted you to become a doctor or an accountant how did you end up in music?

I have a charismatic character and I believed in myself. My lovely mother really wanted a doctor even she is herself an amazing multitalented artiste who has inspired me from childhood.

Has your mother accepted you as a musician now?

She is finally getting there and being supportive. She finds time to find out what I am up to, encourage me and loves to listen to some of my songs but she still compares me to a neighbour’s child who is a doctor or lawyer.

However, I don’t get angry any more because I know she only wants the best for me.

What would you have been were you not into music today?

I would have been a lawyer because I hate oppression, social injustice among other human abuses.

Is your being a tourist ambassador influenced by your tourism studies at university?

A little I enjoy blending my studies with my music talent. But I would embrace the role because I am a nature lover.

How do you unwind after a hard day’s work?

I usually travel away or stay home and watch movies or paint something inspired by the season.