A Rwandan band, ‘The Good Ones’, will do a tour performance in the United States for the first time. The new album titled Rwanda, You Should Be Loved, a twelve-track album featuring various stars, will officially be released by Anti Records on November 8. The band will stage their performances in 10 different places across America starting September 24 in Seattle and concluding the tour in Los Angeles on October 5.
In addition to the album tour, the band has also released a new single in Kinyarwanda titled The Farmer, with an exquisite lyric video that translates the song to English. Featuring a single acoustic guitar, the track celebrates the critical role farmers play in a country in providing food, and how ironically, farmers themselves often cannot feed their own families.
Their producer and Grammy award winner, Ian Brennan, on the 20th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, arranged for the band, then a vocal group from the dusty back streets of Kigali, to take their first flight to the Womad World Music festival in Wiltshire, London where they had a warm-up show.
Brennan, who has worked with other bands from Africa and Asia, says, “The bands with the most artistic ability also tend to be insightful about other aspects of their lives. First and foremost, they are just pleased their music is even out there.”
He added, “It breaks my heart when music that should be accessible to us doesn’t get a hearing.” Which accounts for his commitment to diversifying international music.
The three members (formerly four) work collaboratively. Primary songwriter Kazigira interweaves intricate harmonies with Janvier Havugimana in a fashionable style while Javan Mahoro lends additional background vocals and percussion on select songs.
Bandleader Kazigira originally composed over 40 songs for the album. Most were meditations on his now 13-year-old daughter, Marie-Claire, and the life-threatening tumor that has afflicted her left eye. The recording was done live without overdubs on Adrien’s farm.
In 1978, when they were still children, the group’s core members were first taught music by co-lead singer Havugimana’s older brother, who was blind and later victimized during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. They formed the band as a healing process after the Genocide. It was an active attempt to seek out literally “the good ones” after having endured and witnessed unthinkable horrors.
The band is one of the small but gradually increasing numbers of Rwandan artists who make it to international stages.