English singer Joss Stone leaves lasting impression


It was a very long wait but all well worth it. English singer, songwriter and actress Joss Stone’s Thursday night concert at the Kigali Marriot Hotel came almost a year late, but the wait ended in a sold out concert at the Kigali Marriot’s Kilimanjaro Ballroom.

This was the Kigali leg of Stone’s ambitious Total World Tour project, in which the singer intends to tour all 196 UN listed countries of the world for concerts and collaborations with musicians in the respective countries.

Afrogroov, the local creative and Events Company that brought in the singer, had initially planned the concert for November last year, but that plan did not come through until this year.

The Kigali concert came after a string of tours the singer has already made to other African countries like Nigeria, Cameroon, Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho and Gabon, among others.

Away from the African continent, she has also performed in Thailand, Myanmar, Ukraine, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Paraguay as part of the globe-trotting tour.

The show, that kicked off at 8p.m ,was a totally sold out affair. It was also a classy and high end event. To gain entry, guests had to part with between Rwf20,000 and Rwf30,000.

So huge was the crowd that at one point it seemed as if all of Kigali’s expat community had conspired to descend upon the Kilimanjaro Ballroom all at once.

The expats went out en masse, and not even fashion shows and visual art exhibitions would have competed on this front.

Marriot’s Kilimanjaro Ballroom was almost packed to capacity. All photos by Nadège Imbabazi.

As usual, Deo Munyakazi was there in his usual role as a cultural bridge for the visiting singer, dazzling on his Inanga and sharing bits and pieces about his attachment to the instrument and its place in the Rwandan cultural setting.

An earlier online video of him and Joss Stone collaborating on the Inanga had led many to anticipate a similar scenario on stage but that was not to be.

Munyakazi came on stage after rapper Mike Kayihura, who graced the stage first. Kayihura would later return to stage with fellow rapper Angel Mutoni for collaboration with Munyakazi. The two rappers sat at extreme edges of the stage, from where they delivered their gentle rhymes to the backdrop of Inanga.

Afrogroov’s Angel Mutoni, Deo Munyakazi and Mike Kayihura curtain-raised for Joss Stone. 

Joss Stone stepped onto stage shortly after 9p.m flanked by Steve, her guitarist. For the rest of the evening, it was just the two on a stage that was cozy and free of clutter.

Soon, it became clear why the expat community had flocked to the event in such large numbers; the sing-along sessions begun shortly after the singer launched into her second song.

After that second song, Stone took a short break as organisers went around asking the media and people with cameras to lay down their tools, which did not go down well with some journalists.

Asked what had informed the move, organisers simply stated that it was a mutual agreement reached upon by the singer, the organisers, and the hotel management.

But it was the perfect time to read between the lines, so people eagerly awaited what surprises Stone had in store, now that the cameras weren’t rolling anymore.

She sung and talked about love, engaging the crowd, but she also sung and talked about other adult topics, and in the end one could put the pieces together about the no-cameras rule.

The classy event ended shortly before midnight.