Ugandan Afro-soul and jazz songstress Sandra Nankoma has released her debut album Ye’nze (It’s me) packaged with songs of love, the daily struggles of survival, stigma against dark-skinned women, and poor political leadership in Uganda.
It was released last month under her Sandra Nankoma label.
Ye’nze incorporates jazz and soulful ballads with Nankoma’s unique identity.
The album is a combination of songs in local languages taking one through a journey of the artist’s heritage influenced by legends of soul like Farida Sonko, Miriam Makeba, Anita Baker, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu.
The 12-track album Ye’nze has 10 songs — including Mwisuka, It’s Alright, Come Over, Kabiri Kaalili and Mercedes — a poem interlude and an outro poem (Paris Monster). All were written by Nankoma.
Nankoma has faced discrimination for her dark complexion. Her song Kaddugala is about the elevation of a dark-skinned girl in a brainwashed world that equates beauty with light skin. Kaddugala is her campaign against skin bleaching and skin colour discrimination. In the song, Nankoma praises her dark complexion.
Nankoma collaborated with Kaz Kasozi who produced and played most of the instruments on Ye’nze. Recorded in Uganda and France, she worked with David Felgeirolles who produced both Mercedes and It’s Alright.
Nankoma started her musical career at the 2013 Bayimba International Festival of the Arts at the Uganda National Theatre in Kampala. She performed at the 2014 and 2015 World Music Day festivals in Kampala, and played with One People Band (South Africa) at Rwanda’s premiere music festival Kigali Up in 2016.
In early 2017, Nankoma won the music award Visa Pour La Creation by Institute Francaise France that came with a three month residency (August – October, 2017) in Paris from where she released Ye’nze.
Nankoma co-founded Afroman Spice in 2015, an all-female theatre company that produces and acts plays about social change.
She is also a professional photographer, and held an exhibition titled “Melanin Kaddugala” in Kampala last year, where she mixed media with her music and photography.