Since 2006, Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC), Elly Wamala family and the arts fraternity have been hosting annual concerts in memory of the iconic musician who passed on 22nd August 2004.
And this year 2020, the same is going to happen despite the fact that the country is under lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. The show will be happening at the comfort of your sitting rooms via UNCC@HOME.
UNCC Executive Director Francis Peter Ojede says the memorial concert will be happening this Friday 21st August 2020 at 07:30pm.
“The selected date happens to be the eve of Elly Wamala’s passing on. UNCC@Home will stream the 2019 Memorial Concert which took place at UNCC main auditorium under the theme “Earning from Your Performance”,” said Mr Ojede.
Adding, “You will get an opportunity to watch and listen to legendaries and people that worked with the Elly Wamala. We’ll have a sneak peek into what they learnt from him during his life and how he impacted on their artistic careers to this day. Expect to listen to renowned musicians and artists such as Moses Matovu of Afrigo Band, Frank Mbalire and Sammy Kasule of Ziwuuna Band; Diplock Segawa, Charles Ssenkubuge, Aloysius Matovu Joy of Bakayimbira Drama Actors and Julie Ssesanga of the Big Five.”
You will listen and watch Elly Wamala’s songs as presented by various artistes like the 1973 classic, Akaana Ka Kawalya Ka Wanyana, sang by Frank Mbalire, Taata Wange by Julie Ssessanga, Nalongo Wange by Moses Matovu, Ebinyumu and other by Dustan Mukalazi.
Robert Musiitwa, the UNCC Public Relations Officer noted that the Memorial Concert that will be streamed this Friday revived Elly Wamala’s values and aim which were to impart skills and give young talents a chance.
“In attaining this, last year’s memorial concert had two sets of the bands; the professional band led by Afrigo band/ Ziwuuna Band and the upcoming talents from Makerere University performing Arts and Film Department. Expect to watch and listen to the surviving family of Elly Wamala and what their father meant to them.
This is a celebration of Elly Wamala’s lifelong commitment to knowledge gathering and sharing, which, he mainly did through his songs,” Mr Musiitwa said.
“Without a doubt, Wamala’s legacy lives on. His songs still get air play on several radio and TV stations, Wamala has received posthumous honors from amongst others the Pope Paul VI social club and Buganda kingdom. Since 2006, the Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC) has organised an annual Elly Wamala memorial lecture in his honor.”
According to Mukalazi Dunstan, Wamala’s son, his father left behind unmatched legacy and he deserves to be celebrated always.
“The seasoned musician still remains alive in our hearts, living rooms, parties, in theatres, bars and every possible medium that you can talk of,” he says.
ABOUT ELLY WAMALA: As shared by his son Mukalazi
Wamala was the founding chairman of Musicians’ Club ’89, a club of Kampala’s elite musicians that put on entertainment for themselves at the National theatre (Jam Session) every Monday)
The seasoned musician still remains alive in our hearts, living rooms, parties, in theatres, bars and every possible medium that you can talk of. Born on December 13, 1935, to sub-county clerk Ignatius Mutambuze and Gladys Nabutiti in Bulucheke, Mbale Wamala was a musician of distinguished qualities, a fact that earned him several awards during his career. Wamala’s musical talent was spotted when he was five years old and his uncle started to call on him to entertain his frequent visitors. In an interview with Victoria Wilson Darrah for ‘Eye on Uganda,’ a television programme on UBC TV in the late 90s, Wamala said: “I was a musical child with a musical ear and in love with singing.
Wamala worked with the then Public Works Department (PWD), and later as a receptionist and resident artiste with Opel Tom Tom (then a recording studio in Kampala’s industrial area). When Opel Tom Tom closed, Wamala moved to Nairobi where he became a resident guitarist at a commercial recording studio, HiFi. During this time, he was picked to lead the Sportsman Cha Cha band, which was sponsored to tour East Africa, promoting Sportsman cigarettes. And in the 1950s, he penned his first song, the playful love song, Nabutono. The song, even in its poor form, gained much appreciation. It became the first kadongo kamu song to be recorded on vinyl and like that, the genius of Wamala had invented a music genre. Nabutono has since been remixed and released by Afrigo band. In 1963, Wamala joined Uganda Television (UTV) at its inception. He worked as a producer, senior producer and later as controller of programmes. He also hosted a musical show (Saturday Night with Elly Wamala). In 1966, he studied television production at the Thompson foundation in Glasgow, Scotland. He used that opportunity to be examined by renowned guitarist George Cissily, and obtained a BMG Diploma in plectrum guitar playing, majoring in finger-board harmony. While at UTV, he took a year off [1968-69] to do a Diploma in Drama at Makerere University. With this skill, he got to appreciate language prose and poetry, an attribute that is later seen in his compositions. He was a Mitchell hall resident. Between 1980-81, Wamala taught television production at the Institute of Public Administration (now Uganda Management Institute). He also founded the Mascots band and molded it to become one of the most successful bands in Kampala in the 1980s. Its membership included now renowned Kampala lawyer Andrew Kasirye and singers Tonny Ssenkebejje, Peterson Tusuubira Mutebi, Frank Mbalire and Kabuye Ssembogga.
Upon retirement from UTV in 1981, Wamala worked for two years at the Church of Uganda radio centre, Mukono From 1983 until his death on August 22, 2004, he wrote and recorded countless popular songs that had him labelled “Ever Green” by his fans that cut across generations. Wamala had more than 60 songs to his name, including his debut composition, Nabutono (1959), Talanta (1960), Welcome Pope Paul (1969), Viola (1974), Akaana ka Kawalya (1974), Sacramento (1994), Ebinyumu Ebyaffe (1998) and Ani Yali Amanyi(1999). Four months before his death, Wamala was in studio recording yet another album, Nkutte Mpola. It was released post-humously on December 13, 2004, which would have been his 69th birthday. Wamala received several awards; in 1992, he won the Uganda National Cultural Centre’s Most Virtuous Artiste award. In 2001, he won Uganda’s Musician of the Century award. In 2003, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award at Uganda’s inaugural Pearl of Africa Music (Pam) awards. He was also the first honorary Rotarian of the Rotary club of Kyengera, and was for many years the LC 1 chairman of Kyengera-Mugongo village.
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