Day 6: The Studio @ Traveller’s Rest Hotel, Kisoro

DAY 6: An amazing day at the ‘Hotel Studio’, recording for the first time the Gatera Community (Alice’s community) and the Kabahenda Community.  And the return of Francis and the Birara vocalists, and the Magic Bass Guitar…

The day began with the return of Francis Sembargare from the lovely ‘Community on a Hill’.    We started with an ‘Influences’ session with Winyo accompanying the ladies to sing Imparake Yagahinga – the song in praise of the National Park.

The Music Groups

Francis Sembargare

We did a number of ‘Influences’ sessions with Francis, but we love this one, with Jessie and Francis singing together in the gardens of the Traveller’s Rest hotel in Kisoro.  Please listen before reading the blog:


We also recorded a beautiful version of Amahoro with Jessie, Francis and the ladies.

Francis and the ladies are happy to pose for a series of formal photos (each woman with her baby either cradled or on her back).  Tabu and one of our hosts from the hotel then join the group for the second shot.

Birara singers with Francis - Singing Wells Project   Birara singers with Tabu Osusa - Singing Wells Project

Now for a formal photo with Jesse, Jimmy, Francis and Tabu

Singing Wells team with Francis

The ladies came to work on an ‘Influences’ session with Winyo.   Here, they put down their track. Not at all phased by the use of headphones and mics, they take everything in there stride, performing a number of takes as the song develops.  We start by giving them a simple click to follow the beat but quickly realised that their tempos are far more subtle than this. Francis comes back to set the rhythm with their natural clapping and it suddenly all came together again.

Birara singers at Traveller's Rest Hotel, Kisoro  Birara singers at Traveller's Rest Hotel, Kisoro

Once we have the female vocals recorded, Winyo joins the ladies for the full ‘Influences’ set.

And all the time the babies stay close to their mothers and are perfectly behaved during the long session.

Birara singers at Traveller's Rest Hotel, Kisoro







A favourite photo – note the baby and the lapel mic. We are fairly certain this is a rare occurrence.

Birara Batwa baby

Then we shifted to an ‘Influences’ session with Francis. He started by teaching Jessie the chords to a song and then Jessie played while Francis sang..

Francis Sembagare at Traveller's Rest Hotel for Singing Wells project     Jesse 'Jaybee' Bukindu Ketebul Music

Gatera Community

We then had two groups arrive from villages far way.  We had sent two vans early in the morning to pick them up and suggested that each group bring up to 8 people to sing and dance.  They each brought over 20.  In two vans.  Both groups were fantastic, the first was the Gatera Community:

Gatera Batwa Community perform for Singing Wells project


Kabahenda Batwa Community

We now think we know where James Brown got “the act” from.  You know the one – he dances and dances and pretends to be exhausted then falls to the floor.  Handlers come over to get him and he shrugs them off only to dance some more.  And this is repeated many times over.  Well, we’re convinced this routine was invented in Kisoro by the Kamuntu Moses Group.  They only performed two songs for us but each lasted 20 minutes and involved frenetic dancing follows by a set of ‘James Brown style’ falls to the floor from the principal dancers, only to be revived again by the drummers.  Simply amazing.

Kabahenda Batwa Community perform for Singing Wells project

Their drums were the key to their style – reviving them each time they fell from ‘James Brown’ exhaustion:

Kabahenda Batwa Community perform for Singing Wells project     Kabahenda Batwa Community perform for Singing Wells project     Kabahenda Batwa Community perform for Singing Wells project


The Kabahena Group had arrived with the Gatera Group and due to the former’s extended performance, they had to wait quite a time to get ‘on stage’.  This did not appear to be a problem – they watched and clapped the Gatera performance with enthusiasm, despite the onset of some spectacular rain (which did not subside until the early hours of the following morning causing the power cut which lasted the same length of time).

Their wait allowed us to capture some photos of their members which demonstrate wonderfully the age range across the group and the fact that music here in Africa is for the whole community, from the very young to their much respected elders. This lady was one of the principal dancers and she out performed many of the younger members of the group…

Kabahenda Batwa Community singer

You can see her in action in the later part of the amazing, high energy performance…

As always, the babies are not excluded from the show.  They learn the traditional Batwa songs and dances from the earliest age…

Kabahenda Batwa Community singer  Children of the Kabahenda Batwa Community

Kamunto Moses

The return of the guitar and magic bass.

This is Kisoro Hill who had a couple hours to work with Winyo and Jessie on an ‘Influences’ session.

You’ll remember our beat boxer in a pot (bassist):

Micyingo Batwa community perform for Singing Wells

And you’ll remember our guitarist…….who was happy to be back performing with us!

Tiny Moses Micyingo Batwa Community     Tiny Moses Micyingo Batwa Community

With his hand made guitar…                                                       And his growing fan base….

Tiny Moses Micyingo Batwa Community     Children of the Kabahenda Batwa Community

And that was that for our trip to Kisoro.  We have lots of music, lots of video and lots more stories to tell.  But we want to keep disciplined and report daily, so forgive us if we can’t give you everything at once.  Over the coming weeks, these blogs will be filled with the music and videos and far more background on the project and the Batwa.  For now leave for Nairobi again and then, on Sunday, travel to Western Kenya for the next series of villages and more music.

All the best

The Singing Wells Team

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