Meet Audia, the new female Gakondo artiste on the block

Audia Intore during an interview at The New Times offices on Tuesday. Photos by Sam Ngendahimana.

The loss of her mother at the age of nine, inspired Alice Diane Uwimana, commonly known as Audia Intore’s latest single, ‘Uri mwiza mama’.

“I lost my mother at a time when I just was enjoying her company. I wrote the song to thank her, although she is not here,” she says.Prior to the release of her new song, Audia is known for five songs that have become household names including, “Sine ya mwiza”, “Urungano”, “Umugozi umwe”, “Berwa”, and “Uri mwiza mama.”

Starting out

The sixth-born in the family of seven, Audia is the first in her family to sing traditional music, the Gakondo genre. She started singing traditional music in her final year of high school, even when she did not know that she had the talent.

“I used to dance our traditional dance, since I was four years old and was also part of some of the traditional gospel troops when I went to high school. When I sang, I was told by my friends that they like it when I sing and that I danced well, but they wanted me to always sing as they dance”.

After high school, she met a group of young men, Inkesha, who wanted a female vocalist to sing with them, especially at weddings, a big opportunity for her even though she didn’t believe in herself.

“I used to fear the public. Sometimes I would be called to sing, but I would lie that I was sick, most of the times.”

Two years later, Audia was contacted by renowned traditional artiste, Masamba Intore, to join Gakondo group, where he and other famous artistes like Jules Sentore and Diana Teta sung.

 “Massamba called me to practice with them, but I only knew two traditional songs by heart; Laurette by Kamaliza and Abatangana by Florida that Ibrahim Cyusa had taught me within a week.”

Her first performance was a surprise for her.

“When I sang Laurette people sang along, but when I started singing Abatangana, they listened attentively. When I finished, they cheered me on in a way I didn’t expect. I didn’t even know why they think I did well”.

It was then that she started taking her time to learn some old gakondo songs and her love for traditional music grew, given that she had got herself fans and the financial incentives from singing were impressive.

In 2015, she made a decision to start a career in music, which she describes as an exciting road. However, she met challenges.

“My friends would always say it was not a good idea to start a career in music, because I used to sing only covers,” she says, adding that making one’s own songs is dignifying.

“People always complain that I don’t sing like Kayirebwa or Kamaliza and some say they confuse my voice with theirs, but I want people to know that I sing like me. Just me”.

Her biggest moment so far is when she received loud cheers at a traditional concert to remember the late Kamaliza.

“Who was Audia to be shouted by the public by then? That was a great moment in my life.

“When I started singing, I didn’t have any songs. I would take pride in singing other people’s songs. But now, my songs are sang at weddings, and people are sharing videos singing my songs, I am so happy about,” she shares.

Audia solely depends on her music and has plans to have a full album next year. She also aspires to not only shine locally, but internationally.

She thinks parents should teach their children about the Rwandan culture. “I know children get to choose their paths when they grow up, but at least, one traditional song or dance would do for a Rwandan. Let us get to know, love and spread our culture.”

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