2020 will go down in history as a big blow to the creative industry because of the pandemic. Entertainment events were paused to contain the spread of Covid-19, leaving many out of work. As the year comes to an end, Weekender looks back at 2020. DJ Miller’s passing The music industry is still mourning DJ Miller who was considered by many as one of the best DJs in town. The celebrated disk jockey, born Virgil Karuranga, passed away on April 5, after he reportedly succumbed to heart-related complications. He is survived by a wife and one-year-old daughter, Shani. Before his untimely death, he was working on an album project with producer Davy Denko. His passing marked the end of the project that included 10 songs, including singles and collaborations. However, in a virtual concert held on December 4 at the New Cadillac, the DJ’s family and friends decided to finish what he started by releasing the album, ‘Shani’, named after his daughter, to honor his courage, determination and the love he had for music. A fundraising campaign was also initiated to support the completion of the construction of a house that the DJ had started to build for his family before he passed on. Nishimwe parts ways with Miss Rwanda management Rwanda Inspiration Backup, the management and organisers of Miss Rwanda, usually take on management of the crowned beauty queen. However, reigning Miss Rwanda Naomie Nishimwe opted against that and surprisingly parted ways with the management less than a month after she took the crown home. The shocking withdrawal put a halt to Rwanda Inspiration Backup’s four-year tenure to manage Miss Rwanda projects and participation in international beauty competitions. Naomie Nishimwe. Photo: Net Nishimwe explained that the decision was taken to allow her to focus on her mental health awareness initiative as presented during the Miss Rwanda 2020 campaign. The result was the beauty queen, who is currently managed by her mother, losing a monthly salary of Rwf800, 000 that she was supposed to get from Miss Rwanda’s sponsors for a period of 12 months. She was, however, able to sign a deal with Itel Rwanda to become brand ambassador of the mobile phones solutions company for a period of 12 months. She is the second beauty queen to get different management for her Miss Rwanda initiatives after Doriane Kundwa who opted for her own management led by Bruce Twagira after being crowned Miss Rwanda 2015. End of the Dream Boys era When former Dream Boys member Claude Mujyanama, commonly known as TMC, left the country in February to continue his studies in the United States, his counterpart, Platini Nemeye, was left with no choice but to kick-off a solo career as all eyes were on the journalism graduate to see if he would carry on. TMC’s departure marked the duo’s split after a decade-long journey as brothers in music. However, Platini did his best to prove doubters wrong. Since he started a solo career, Platini so far has six songs to his name including two singles, ‘Veronika’ and ‘Atansiyo’, as well as four collaborations namely ‘Ya Motema’ with Nel Ngabo, ‘Pase’ with Rafiki, ‘Nta Birenze’ with Knowless and ‘Fata Amano’ with Safi Madiba. Somi makes it to the Grammy’s US-based Rwandan jazz vocalist and songwriter Somi is still celebrating her historical Grammy nomination at the 63rd annual awards, making her the first African woman to ever be nominated in any of the jazz categories and the first African artiste to be nominated for a jazz vocal performance. The annual awards, also known as the Grammys, recognise achievements in the music industry. Her album, ‘Holy Room’, could make history during the award-giving gala on January 31, 2021, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, if she wins. Nep Queenz, Rwanda’s all-female band Nep Queenz, the first ever all female live band outfit in Rwanda, if not the region, was shaped this year. The band, which first pulled off an electric reggae performance at a live show on ISIBO TV alongside their counterparts Neptunez Band and Nep DJs, proved that they are an ultra-modern contemporary girls’ band that is joining the music industry with a difference in style, approach, attitude, and charisma. Nep Queenz is the latest addition to the Nep Family, which has a catalog of brands like Nep films, Nep DJs, Nep records, Neptunez Band, all of which belong to RG Consult, the brains behind the popular Kigali Jazz Junction music series. They may be new in the industry but the band is out to prove that live bands aren’t particularity for men, and their vision for greatness in what they do is a no brainer. ‘The 600’ film streaming on Amazon Prime A year and a half on, ‘The 600’ film is still making headlines! For those who weren’t able to watch it since its release in July 2019, the film is now accessible on Amazon Prime. The film, which tells the story of Rwanda Patriotic Front’s (RPF-Inkotanyi) liberation struggle is a co-production by American film production firm, Great Blue Productions, and Kigali’s A-WIZE MEDIA run by Annet Uwizeye, a Rwandan film producer. It is now available on Amazon Prime where viewers can either rent it for $4.99 or pay $7.99 to buy it. Last month, the film was named the best feature at the Austria International Film Festival after a series of nominations at numerous renowned international film festivals in the United Kingdom and the United States. Celebrities sign mega deals to become brand ambassadors About a decade ago, celebrities didn’t need social media to become brand ambassadors and appear on company promotional billboards. However, as the world goes digital, companies’ marketing strategies have changed as they are increasingly targeting these celebrities by tapping into the fan base on social media platforms. This is also because they aren’t able to take campaigns to different parts of the country as large gatherings remain banned to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Singer The Ben, Bruce Melodie, Miss Rwanda 2020 Naomie Nishimwe and socialite Shadia Mbabazi, commonly known as Shaddy Boo, are among the celebrities who signed multimillion deals to help companies reach more customers through social media. The move could change the lives of many celebrities who are gaining almost nothing from their social media pages other than interacting with their followers/fans. Local fashion brands making sales via Beyonce’s web The fashion industry is among the sector’s most hit by Covid-19 as designers struggled to make enough sales throughout the year. However, as businesses were moving online, four Rwandan fashion brands; House of Tayo, Inzuki Designs, Moshions and Haute Baso, took a huge boost after their creations were in August listed among top African fashion brands that feature on American singer Beyoncé Knowles’ website. Hundreds of African fashion houses, like Moshions, are featured on Beyonce’s website. Photo: Net The website, beyonce.com, features hundreds of African fashion houses as part of the singer’s initiative to help strengthen small businesses and to ensure economic empowerment for black-owned businesses, especially in the creative industry. The move to support black-owned small businesses came just a few days after Beyoncé released her musical film and visual album ‘Black Is King’ on July 31, just one year after the release of Disney’s live action remake of ‘The Lion King’ in which she starred. Bruce Melodie switches to Gakondo While many may see 2020 as a ‘disaster’ to Rwandan music due to the Covid-19 crisis, singer Bruce Melodie could be thinking otherwise. He has entertained music fans in Rwanda and abroad, but at the same time, drawn criticism from a section of the public who accuse him of using sexually immoral lyrics in his songs. For long, he turned a deaf ear but eventually announced that he was going to venture into ‘Gakondo’ style and deliver music that represents Rwanda’s cultural norms. Bruce Melodie From there, music enthusiasts thought he was putting an end to his genre to concentrate on the traditional style of music. It, however, took him just one song, “24”, to revoke his decision. He said that his career belongs to Afro-beat, the genre he loves and relates to the most.