It all started last year when three young men came together to explore their talent in the music industry. They all believed they had what it takes and were determined to stand out on the music scene.
Chance Ishimwe, Patrick Manishimwe and his brother Claude Ntakiyimana are the brains behind the group and have embarked on a promising journey that is keen to create a signature to Rwanda’s music.
The trio can perform any music style using Umuduri. ‘Umuduri’ is a Rwandan stringed instrument. It is a musical bow consisting of a string supported by a flexible wooden string bearer or bow.
The legendary instrument was formerly played during traditional night shows at the royal palace, known as ‘Inkera Nyarwanda’, and is now set for a comeback.
The boys believe that this instrument has potential that has not been exploited to the fullest.
Ishimwe, the lead singer and song writer of the group says their mission is to prove to the world of music that the instrument can do what has never been achieved before by other musical instruments.
He explains that their choice of ‘Real Singers’ as their label was because they can make the instrument adapt to any style without any challenge.
The group does hip hop, R&B, traditional folk among other styles.
How it all started
Right from the start, it was all fate with the sudden events that led to the boys’ paths crossing.
Ishimwe lived in Rubavu district and used to write songs, some of which were composed in dedication to Rubavu-based football team Etincelles, while Manishimwe and his brother Ntakiyimana lived in Kigali.
Ishimwe’s move to the city led him directly to the neighborhood where the two brothers lived and as fate had it, their passion for music pulled them together.
Manishimwe recalls doing their first song and was amazed at how it all turned up.
“Our first song sealed the deal and it was then that we agreed to form a music group. Today, we feel like we are more than a group but a family. We plan everything together, we share ideas on and off music life and advise each other, whenever it matters,” he says.
The trio’s combined talent has kept on growing and they attribute their success to a family history with music.
The brothers took inspiration from their mother, Ruth Nyirampfumukoye, who is a pioneer in ‘Umuduri’.
Ntakiyimana hopes to take this talent and make their mother proud.
“She taught us how to play the instrument from a young age, and right now we believe we can now make a fortune out of it. And we believe she wants us to create something special she failed to do,” he said.
The group has found it hard convincing some people who haven’t yet understood the kind of music they do.
“Some people think we are crazy when they see us performing this kind of music, especially on the streets but that does not make us give up. In the end, they will realize that our music sounds fantastic. Nowadays, we find ourselves overcrowded wherever we perform, something which gives us more energy to do even better,” Ishimwe says.
They also reveal a challenge in seeking management for their music saying that their music would have earned them a lot of money if only they had a recognized professional management.
Due to financial constraints the boys had to drop out of school which they as an obstacle in obtaining fame beyond the region since they can mostly express themselves in Kinyarwanda.
Ishimwe completed ordinary level while Manishimwe and Ntakiyimana dropped out of school from Primary four and Senior two, respectively.
To overcome this they plan to resume their studies if all goes well.
“We began to face challenges given our academic background, but having figured out that an academic background matters in people’s daily lives, we are planning to continue with our studies. Resuming our studies tops our agenda as long as we target taking our music beyond borders,” revealed Ntakiyimana.
A bright future ahead
When they want to produce a song, they go to the studio and instruct the producer to record with their instrument until the song is ready.
“Our music is built on ‘Umuduri’. We do not use any other musical instrument in our recording other than ‘Umuduri’, we want our music to rely on this alone to prove that Rwandans have a local instrument that has potential for production just like other instruments, if not better than them,” Ishimwe notes.
The boys have so far released three songs but Ishimwe said more have been written and they are soon going to the studio.
“With the little money we have, we plan to release at least three more songs this year, with their videos.”
They do street performance, which is their current popular address. The aspiring music group however has performed at different cultural events like ‘Ndi Igisigo’ cultural show in March and last year’s edition of Kigali Arts Festival, among others.
Ishimwe believes that their music is set to even reach greater heights depending on the current fan base they already have on streets.
“Thanks to our talent, each of us no longer depends on our family, we can afford accommodation, dressing and eating.”
On Christmas last year, they each recall pocketing Rwf 35,000 and they have now reached a level of collecting at least Rwf 20,000 a day.
It was hard and at some point the boys almost lost hope, but all is bright now and hope for the best.