Chance Irere is a dancer, choreographer and singer. The versatile performer plies her trade with Diagonal Musica, a Kigali-based live music band. The band started out in 2006, as an all-Congolese ensemble doing strictly Congolese music, but over the years the band has evolved to embrace members from diverse nationalities.
Irere has been with the band since 2014, although her musical journey stretches way back to her childhood years.
“I started dancing and singing in the Catholic Church choir since I was five.
I grew up in Kacyiru, here in Kigali. From an early age I was in love with music that’s why my mother took me to a choir,” she explained.
“I learnt a lot from the church choir, especially in dancing because this was my roots,” she adds.
Today, she is a versatile dancer with mastery of Rwandan and African traditional dances, Congolese dance, and occasionally when the need arises, she even does Break Dance.
But it wasn’t until she joined secondary school that Chance made up her mind to sing as well;
“My classmate who was my best friend always enjoyed reading the songs I wrote and even the songs of other musicians that I sung.
One day she asked “why can’t you join studio and be a musician?” This encouraged me to be more serious in my career.”
Today, she tours extensively with the band across the country, and as a reward for her loyalty, is occasionally allowed to perform with other live bands.
“Performing live is so wonderful but also difficult because it calls for originality so you have to be yourself,” she explains.
But joining the band came after a difficult phase in her personal life that almost forced her to quit music. However she chose to soldier on;
“I got pregnant in 2011 when I had many opportunities to advance my dancing skills like meeting many professional trainers in many different styles. I struggled a lot as a single mother then returned to music at the end of 2013. Now my daughter is about to make five years.”
“After my baby arrived I was so discouraged about doing music again because I was so big (heavy) so I started to cry believing that my career was finished because no one would take me.
What I can tell other girls in my situation is not to be discouraged; it happened to me and I lost some of my chances in my passion which is music so they have to get up and improve their skills as soon as they get the chance and take time to care for their children but never be discouraged. We all deserve a second chance and we have to fight for it.”
The other challenge she cites is that of being a woman in a male-dominated trade;
“As a female musician sometimes other musicians like men take you as someone who is not serious,” she whines.
Asked if the financial reward from her musical efforts is worth it she explains:
“In some forms of music there is no money but in traditional music which I do there is some money, not much but we don’t do music for money. We do music first and foremost because it’s in our veins and it is our passion. That’s how I consider it.”