USAWorld News

Kenzo, Uganda’s first Grammy nominee, had humble beginnings


KAMPALA, Uganda — Eddy Kenzo doesn’t know exactly when he was born, a quirk of personal history that goes to the heart of how the Ugandan singer sees himself: a humble man who is sometimes worried about what’s next.

And yet Kenzo, who became the first Ugandan singer to be nominated for the Grammy Awards, continues to reach heights that defy his expectations and those of his fans and rivals in the East African country where his work is. sometimes questioned.

Some Ugandans dismiss his musical style as rather playful, saying he is not really a singer. But others see in his experimentation the creative potential that makes him an artist with original gifts.

For Kenzo, any recognition of his work is a reminder of how far he has come.

“Honestly, I’m so overwhelmed. I’m so nervous at the same time,” Kenzo said in an AP interview, speaking about his nomination. “I thank God we did.”

Kenzo’s “Gimme Love,” a collaboration with American singer Matt B that began with a chance meeting in Los Angeles, is nominated for a Grammy in the Best Worldwide Musical Performance category.

Kenzo, real name Edirisa Musuuza, won a BET award in 2015 as the Viewers’ Choice for Best New International Artist, the first and only Ugandan so honored to date. The accolade followed her song “Sitya Loss,” which featured a video featuring dancing children whose energetic performance caught the attention of global stars like Ellen DeGeneres.

This song was a nod to Kenzo’s humble beginnings in a remote part of central Uganda, as a barely literate child who didn’t know where his next meal would come from. According to his own account, Kenzo spent 13 years on the streets after losing his mother when he was just 4 years old. He didn’t know who his father was, and he only found out about some of his siblings as a grown man.

He wanted to be a footballer and even won a scholarship to boarding school because of his talent, but then gave up and returned to the hustle and bustle that he says made him a man.

“I’m a hustler,” he told AP. “It’s a very important step for me, my family and the people in the ghetto, the hustlers, the people who come from nothing. It gives us a lot of hope that anything is possible.

He recorded his first single in 2008 and rose to fame in 2010 with the song “Stamina”, beloved by politicians, lovers and others for its praise of youthful energy. In addition to winning awards, Kenzo is frequently invited to perform around the world.

Three days before learning he had been nominated for a Grammy, Kenzo held a festival in Kampala attended by thousands of people, including Uganda’s prime minister. It was a proud moment for a singer whose music is often ignored by local FM stations, who can make or break a song with the choices DJs make.

Even for Kenzo, one has the feeling that he is more appreciated abroad than at home.

“My biggest fanbase is outside of Uganda because the world is bigger than Uganda,” he said thoughtfully. “Uganda is just a small country.”

Andrew Kaggwa, arts reporter at the local Daily Monitor newspaper, described Kenzo as an enigma who “has disrupted the industry in ways no one can explain”.

He referred to Kenzo as the Ugandan singer “who refused to fail”. DJs may not like his music, but he has a loyal following and he’s winning accolades despite the odds.

“For some reason things happen” for Kenzo, Kaggwa said. “He just lets the awards, the accolades, speak for him.”

For more music coverage, visit


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button