It is a hot Tuesday afternoon when I bump into Alpha Rwirangira at Future Records, a music recording studio in Kimironko.
Driving into the compound, he parks the car, jumps out of it, and enters the studio, going from room to room to greet everyone around.
A few minutes later, he dashes out, steps into his car and turns on the ignition, saying he is hurrying to one of the breweries to discuss some deal, but promises to be back “very soon”.
Where has he been?
Since January 2012, the two-time Tusker Project Fame (TPF) winner has been away in the United States of America, only visiting home during college breaks to organise a few gigs, most notably the Alpha Band with Families, his annual family Christmas show that is now in its third year of existence.
A beneficiary of the Presidential Scholarship, Alpha is pursuing a marketing major, and minor in music at Campbellsville, which he describes as “a small university in Kentucky state in the USA”.
So why would the artiste that he is choose to study marketing, of all things, at university?
“I’m a business oriented person. Besides, music is not a hobby, it’s serious business. When people make money in music, they want to invest it elsewhere, which requires some business basics,” he defends his choice of course.
“I want to market my music and my work. Studying marketing has opened my mind to think beyond the box. I know there is a marketer in me.”
Asked what he is studying in music, he says: “I am learning instruments, but it’s more of applied voice, like the right techniques of breathing, voice projection, and how to use your voice to the best of its ability. It’s a great way of learning music theoretically, and it’s sharpening the talent I have in music.
What is he up to?
The singer returned to the country for a three-month recess. In the last three years, he has been returning every December to organize the popular Alpha Band with Families live concerts that fall on December 25th.
This is arguably the biggest gig associated with his name locally, so he is in a mood to talk about it a little more:
“The show basically focuses on kids and their parents. I have held it to a packed audience since 2011, and this year I hope to do the same.”
The first and second Alpha Band with Families concerts were held at the Car Wash Bar and Restaurant, with live barbecues, while in 2013, it went to the La Palisse Hotel, in Nyandungu.
I ask him if this year’s concert is the reason for his early return and he says “no”.
“It’s still too early for that, but I have quite a few things up my sleeve,” he says before turning to attend to a female fan who wants to know where the singer has been “hiding”.
When he returns, I ask what’s cooking in his pot and he says: “Still under the Alpha brand name, I’m planning to roll out three unique packages to my fans, one at a time.”
The three are; Alpha Band Tour, Alpha Band with VIPs, and Alpha Band with Ladies.
About the Alpha Band Tour he says: “This tour will take me to my fans outside Kigali, where I plan to stage shows either for free or with a small gate fee, depending on the sponsorship and support I get. I have earmarked ten districts for the start, but later I would love to cover the whole country and make it an annual event.”
Like the name suggests, the Alpha Band with VIPs will be for his more high-end fans.
“Besides branding the Alpha Band, I’m also trying to entertain the VIPs because they are always busy. I want to do something exclusive, mega and different for them, taking in mind their busy schedule. Most of them listen to their favorite musicians on their car radios, but they don’t get entertained because of the surroundings where concerts are usually held, like bars and nightclubs.”
Asked why he is dedicating yet another show to the ladies, he smiles and says: “Ladies are very special people, to be honest. How to know this is that when they come to an event, their men will come along with them. They are our mothers and sisters and girlfriends and wives. Their efforts need to be highlighted.”
About his music, the singer talks of drifting to more of inspirational messages and even gospel at the moment, “because I want to make a change. I don’t want my voice to be any other voice. I want it to be able to carry people from one level to another.”
He credits his God, his fans, and the media for being who he is today. “My first support system is God. For people to know me, He knew me first. My family is very supportive too.”