Return of the Batwa @ Ketebul Music Studios

While in Western Kenya, we made a decision to bring some of the Batwa singers back from Kisoro to Uganda.  We spent Saturday and Sunday recording them and the results are fantastic.

The whole way back from Kisoro to Kisumu we talked about the Batwa and how much we loved the singers.  We thought about bringing them to Nairobi sometime in the future.  We then decided the future is now and called Henry Neza to see if he would be willing to travel with a selection of singers to Nairobi.  We told him if he left immediately he would probably make it back to Nairobi at the same time we did.  We called him on Monday the 28th of November, hoping he could make it to Nairobi by the 2nd of December.   It is a sign of Henry’s amazing devotion to the Batwa cause that he said yes to such a request.

First, their travel story.  He was able to contact all the singers on the 29th of November and he arranged all travel papers by the 30th.  They then left the morning of the 30th and travelled by private van from Kisoro to Kampala, arriving in Kampala the same evening.  They spent the night in Kampala and left the morning of the 1st of December and arrived in Nairobi in the afternoon of the second. ‘They’ were five ladies and five babies and three men, plus Henry. 14 people drove for roughly 48 hours to sing.

Second, let’s introduce the team. Each of the ladies brought their baby with them so they also get a mention!

Francis Sembagare

We met Francis the first day of recording on the hill tops near Kisoro.   He played kid golf during his live performances, gently knocking the kids from the ‘stage’ with his spear.  He is an amazing visual performer, especially in his songs about cranes where he does the Batwa ‘Bird Dance.’  He is the leader of the Kisoro Batwa in terms of music and we could not have recorded further without him at the heart of our sessions.

Francis Sembagare from Birara Dancers group

Francis Sembagare

Tiny Moses

Tiny Moses blew us away at the hotel one evening when we discovered him and the magic bass.    He is an extraordinary guitar player and a lot of fun.  He joined in all our group sessions over the weekend.
Moses Nzikumua-Kamuntu (Tiny Moses)

Moses Nzikumua-Kamuntu (Tiny Moses)

Jovah (and baby Jonain)

We met Jovah our second day of recording in Kisoro; she was the lead singer of the Mperwa Dancers and we loved her voice.   She has been a revelation this weekend, with the strongest lead vocals by far.  She also happily does back-up vocals for a lot of the songs we’re recording.

Jivah Nyiramajoro from Mperwa Dancers

Jovah Nyiramajoro

Jolly (and baby Byaruhanga)

Jolly sings with Francis and his two wives.  She does some of the most outstanding backing harmonies we’ve encountered.  We’ve asked her to sing lead on a couple songs and love her voice.  She lives up to her name and is always up for anything; the first in the studio and the last to leave.

Jolly Naiti from Birara Dancers

Jolly Naiti

Paskazia (and baby Julius)

One of Francis’s two wives and part of the trio of female singers that support Francis.

Paskazia Nyirakarombo from Birara Dancers

Paskazia Nyirakarombo

Vastina (and baby Robson)

The second of Francis’s wives, the third of the trio that sings with Francis and on their own.  Beautiful voice.

Vastina Ayinkamiye from Birara Dancers

Vastina Ayinkamiye

Gasoda “DJ” Yohanandj

DJ is the lead dancer for Tiny Moses.  A lovely man who was a  big hit in our Kisoro sessions, the whole group insisted that we could not even consider recording the Batwa in Nairobi unless he was included.

Gasoda 'DJ' Yohana from Micyingo Group

Gasoda Yohanadj

Mbirikimu Mbarushimana  –  “Challenger”

The magic bass player (beat boxes into a pot) with Tiny Moses.  Great backing vocals as well.

Mbirikimu Mbarushimana from Micyingo Group

Mbirikimu Mbarushimana

Gaudancia (and baby Stella)

A wonderful singer from the group ‘Togetherness’ who we recorded in the empty (good news) refugee camp outside of Kisoro.   She sang with each of the groups over the weekend.

Gaudancia Kampire from 'Togetherness' Group

Gaudancia Kampire

And here were the results of our efforts!


The Singing Wells Team

4 December 2011

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