Salus Music Band wins the battle of the bands

Salus Music Band performs in the battle of the bands at Kigali Marriott Hotel on Wednesday. Craish Bahizi

Salus Music Band proved its credentials as the leading live band in Kigali, beating two other bands in a live duel at the Kigali Marriott Hotel on Wednesday night.

Dubbed Battle of the Bands, it is the only platform for bands to compete in the country so far, and it was the second edition, after one in 2018 that was taken by Neptunez band.

The journey started in September, where eight different bands had one-on-one every week, and voting was done on social media by the public. Salus band, Umurage live band and Symphony band made it to the finals.

For the grand finale, there was a panel of judges, who are renowned music specialists; Kirenga, who is widely known as Eric Soul, musician, consultant and artist, Parfait Mugiraneza, music and dance enthusiast, Remmygious Lubega, Entrepreneur and talent scout, and Daniel Izere, known as Dany Beats, who is a music producer.

The judges’ accounted for 60 percent in winning, and the rest 40 percent was from fans at the event and on social media.

The battle

The performances were in two rounds; 30 minutes and 20 minutes.

Live music lovers turned out in large numbers for the event, as it was a full house, at an entry fee of Rwf5,000.

The first band to perform was Symphony band, comprised of former Nyundo School of Art students. Fans cheered as their vocalists gave their best in; grenade, I feel good, Treasure, Happy, Papa Wemba’s Fafafa… (sad song).

When their male soloist came in R Kelly’s When a woman loves, the crowd went wild at his deep strong voice, as he sang it even better than the original (arguably).

The second on stage was Umurage live band, who had fans that were almost half of the attended. Their male soloist, who was on the piano took the hearts of the audience when he started ‘laisse moi t’aimer, in a very soft but hard at the same time voice, as he enjoyed the stage.

The crowd couldn’t hold it, so they turned their torches on, as the band’s female vocalist came in with Natural woman, like Aretha was there.

They gave a couple more, and left the people yearning for more after they performed Versace on the floor.

Salus Music Band was next. They were announced by the crowd, as they were obviously next. And their fans were arguably more than the rest bands.

Joachim, one of the band’s vocalist played the acoustic as he melted so many hearts (you could tell) with Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’. The second song couldn’t keep the crowd seated, a blend of Feliz Navidad, zouk music, and some Zulu songs, with their female vocalists.

And throughout the whole session, only like a tenth of the audience was seated.

When their session was done, the crowd screamed ‘one more, one more…’

Round two

The order was the same on round two. And it is worthy to mention that it didn’t require a trained observer to see that the chairs were not necessary for that specific event.

Symphony came with Kayirebwa’s Urubambye ingwe, as people danced, and their guy on the solo guitar sung Burna Boy as he trains him. When he said ‘zagadat’, some people couldn’t help but just scream and dance. Songs like leg over, Babalao, Inama, Ku gasima, and some rock instrumental kept the crowd hot.

Umurage came with Michael Jackson’s Give it to me, don’t worry, no woman no cry, as people now joined them at the front. And then we went the traditional way with tarihinda, naraye ndose, mama data, nyaruguru, agasaza and cyo ngwino. Surprisingly, last night’s crowd can dance Kinyarwanda, all of them.

Their female vocalist sang her heart out with her strong vocals in Papa Wemba’s fafafa, and more.

Salus Music Band didn’t send people to sit. They gave a reggae session, sung Bruce melody’s Katerina, and some famous Kinyarwanda oldies like maguru we (unjyaniye umurizo), and Kayirebwa’s Twaza.

When Salus was done with their session, everyone was awaiting the results, as the judges were giving feedback to the three bands. The MC wasn’t any merciful as she kept the results and gave people heart attacks until she said ‘Salus Music Band’ as the winners.

It was all joy and excitement, as their fans immediately joined them on stage to carry them and run around with them. Their fans were uncontrollably wild, thanks to Marriott for providing room for that.

Speaking to The New Times, Joachim Kabeza, from Salus Music Band expressed his excitement, and gratitude to their fans.

“It was not easy at all. Beating all these bands that are very good and famous in the country is something very big that I cannot even explain. We are very happy, we really worked for it.”

“We had so many fans, mostly from the former National University of Rwanda in Huye. I am very proud of our fans; they are the reason we won. Winning is not because we were so better, it is because of our fans, who are always there for us.”

Salus Music Band will perform at Kigali Marriott Hotel’s new year’s eve, have a recording session in the studio, and sign a one-year contract to sing at the hotel as their resident band.

The band started in 2015 in Huye district, by former students of what was then the National University. they relocated the band in 2017 because some of them graduated, and others were relocated by the university, among others. They have over 15 members.

Panel of judges that evening.

Fans dance to traditional music performed by the bands.

Symphony band performing.

Umurage Live band performing.

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