The "People of the Land" concert by the Ugandan guitarist and crooner Kenneth Mugabi held at Kampala Serena Hotel on November 24, 2023 lived up to the hype.
Accompanied by Cherubim Choir, the Afro-soul artiste opened his show held at the Victoria Hall with his song Neyanziza off the 2017 album Kibun’omu and kept his fans on their feet.
Mugabi, who played the acoustic guitar, tube fiddle and vocals, performed some of songs with other artistes, including Naava Grey, Xenson Ssenkaaba, Happy Kyazze, Ronnie Bukenya, Myko Ouma, and James Ssewakiryanga.
Ebrahim Soul’O, Mitch Isabirye, and Andereya Baguma fused the spoken word, poetry, and music – much to amusement of the audience.
Mugabi went against norm of most Ugandan musicians, who have curtain-raisers before the main act.
“The poster didn’t advertise any other artiste. As the host of the show, I had to do the honours. I open and close the door for my guests,” he said.
Mugabi, who titled the concert after his latest album People of the Land, says he calls his music “Live Ugandan Soul — a mixture of what was, what is, and what could be."
Regarding the current state of the music industry in Uganda, Mugabi observed: “The Ugandan audience is now exposed enough to know what they want and need at a certain time. Anyone can be a star as long as they are true to themselves and their art.”
About the trend that the music industry taking regarding the physical sales of records versus streaming, he said, “The industry is currently about streaming. However, my projection is, we could go back to physical sales and merchandise.”
As to whether there is a potential for music streaming in Uganda in the face of high cost of the internet, he said: “Ugandans watch a lot of YouTube and TikTok but, despite the high cost of internet, they still support us (by buying records).”
Mugabi’s debut 12-track album titled “Kibun’omu” was released in 2016. It includes the title track Kibun’omu, Naki, Nambi, Omusheshe, Katambaala, Wakikere and Mumulette, among others.
He followed it up with “Ugandan” in 2019 and “People of the Land” in 2022.