Suzan Kerunen, Uganda’s award-winning singer, has launched her fifth studio album titled From Ashes We Rise. The 12-track-album, released on April 29, has the songs From Ashes We Rise, Earthly Speaking, Ginya, Esclave featuring Bernice the Bell, Crimson featuring WD Alzain, and Remnants featuring Lawrence Matovu and Keith Mugenyi.
The album is a cocktail of Afro-fusion and reggae songs in her mother tongue Alur, English and French, with themes ranging from environmental protection, love and women’s rights.
Kerunen, also known as the Alur Queen, said Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns pushed artists around the world into a dark place, and the lack of physical connection affected the creativity of some.
Now that the worst is over, she said, it is refreshing to be able to sing, travel and release new work.
The title of the album draws from the legend of the Phoenix, a bird believed to have had a spirit of fire, and ability to be reborn after burning itself out. The Phoenix is a symbol of strong people surviving situations. The pandemic was the fire.
From Ashes We Rise tells stories of African triumphs, battles and future victories to inspire and give hope. It draws on decolonisation, women empowerment, the Black Skin movement, diversity, marriage, childbirth, rites of passage, food and race.
The musician has collaborated with Kinobe Herbert, a Uganda-American, Bernice the Bell of Burundi, Mseto Nation of Uganda, and WD Alzain of Sudan.
The song Earthly Speaking is a plea to humanity to rid the planet of all types of pollution.
Kerunen is confident that the music scene and musicians will bounce back now that Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted in Uganda and around the world. ''That as an art form, music has the power to self-feed and rejuvenate.''