By Allen Kisakye
Her nomination at this year’s All Africa Music Awards (Afrimas) came as a surprise to many. This was mainly because it was overshadowed by calls to boycott Bebe Cool for Diamond Platinumz but also because her music is ‘not popular’.
Sandra Nankoma missed out on the Best Female Artiste – East Africa gong, but was named the Best Female Artiste In African Inspirational Music’ for her song Kaddugala a few days to her 30th birthday.
For those that know her, it was just a matter of time.
“She has worked hard especially in a country where people listen to nothing but the pop served to them by the electronic media,” Andrew Kaggwa says.
According to the journalist and arts critic, Kaddugala is topical and for this, Nankoma deserves all the recognition, especially at home.
“It (Kaddugala) looks at the topic of being black in a black community, the undertones and pressures people receive because they are darker than the rest of the pack,” Kaggwa says.
“It is a song that came out at the right time; at the time when the advertising world, media, entertainment and the rest are literally telling us black is only beautiful when it is mixed or super brown.”
Born on November 27, 1988, Nankoma says growing up, her fellow students bullied and discriminated against her because she had a very dark skin complexion.
This, most of the times made her feel out of place but the power and love for music kept her going.
By the age of four, she says, she started imitating Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.
In O-Level at Bishop’s Secondary School, Mukono, she was always vibrant during mime shows.
During a previous interview with Observer, she says while in Senior Two, she dared herself and her friends and performed at an A-level students’ ball.
“This got her fame rolling. She sang in the school’s Scripture Union club and later joined the school choir. She stayed in the choir for a short while because she couldn’t keep up with their strict rules.”
From Bishops SS, she joined Lubiri SS where she released her first song in 2008. The song, ‘Alright’ was recorded at Infinit3 Records.
Mufumbiro (with hip hop star Slyvester Kibombo), Superstar, The Sound, Determination, among other songs quickly followed before she even left high school.
However, she felt like she was veering off her genre, which was ‘soul’ – thus the name Sandy Soul.
She then decided to go solo and do what her heart desired.
“At first she was mostly jazz, though she later branched to soul and allowed the influence of soul, yet at that time, it was mostly the American soul. But while working on her latest album, Ye’nze, she did not necessarily set out to do a soul album. She simply did music where soul only became an inspiration. I could call it a new age soul with an African sense to it,” Kaggwa says.
Ye’nze – a 12-track album -was produced and mastered in Uganda and France and boasts songs such asMwisuka, It’s Alright, Come Over, Kabiri Kaalili, Baliba Baambuza, Nzukuuka Ku Makya, Kaddugala, Babylon, Mercedes, Musaiza Wei’ka.
But Ye’Nze was released in 2018, about five years after she started singing professionally at the 2013 Bayimba Festival.
The Industrial Fine Art and Design degree holder, then started getting gigs, touring and performing in different cities such as Nairobi, Arusha, Abidjan, Kigali.
Back home, Nankoma, who had since ditched the name Sandy Soul – has performed on a number of stages and festivals such as Milege World Music Festival, Pearl Rhythm Festival, World Music Day Celebrations among others.
She has collaborated with artistes like Cyno MC, Sylvester Kibombo, Keejay Freak, Jojo Abot (Ghana), Blinky Bill (Kenya), Jackie Manyelope among others.
In 2015, she co-founded Afroman Spice, an all-female theatre company that produces and acts plays on social change.
All these achievements, however, might not measure up to the latest continental award and inspiration other dark skinned girls will get from Kaddugala.
“The song addresses a topic we have lived with but did not talk about and thus the recognition of Best Inspiration,” Kaggwa says.
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