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Shauku band finds niche in fusing traditional music with modern touch

In Rwanda, a big number of people believe that urban music is dominating the market and makes it easier for upcoming artists to win people’s hearts than traditional cultural music, a genre that is a bit demanding in terms of talent and vocals.

But have you thought of what would happen if traditional music is fused with modern urban genres?

 

That is what the recently-launched Shauku band is doing. Cultural music could soon be integrated into urban genres to give music lovers a different taste and color through fusion music.

 

The band, whose name is a Kiswahili word that means ‘Passion’, is part of the entertainment wing of Shauku ya Afrika, an event management company.

 

Fred Iyakaremye, the operations manager of Shauku ya Afrika said they chose to do fusion music to bring different music styles together, mix them and produce a unique music color that has, in its composition, an identity built around the DNA of Rwandan music.

“We want to give fusion music a different color where we can mix our cultural music with other genres to produce an urban sound. We are doing this kind of music our own way. Only the lyrics and the composition will define what our music is like,” he said.

Unlike other live bands here in Rwanda, Shauku’s status is different as it focuses on doing its own music rather than relying on performances of songs of other musicians.

“We are not here to give backup to other artists at concerts because we are not a supporting band. We have our own songs and we are doing music like Backstreet Boys or West Life does,” he added.

Shauku band comprises nine members, most of whom are music products of Nyundo School of Music.

They include band leader Alexis Nkomeza (Pianist), Lydia Imanizabayo and Patient Akayezu (both singers), Ellam Niyobyiringiro (guitarist), and band drummer Aimable Iradukunda. Others include saxophonist David, Gad Izerimana (bass guitarist/ producer) Grace Iradukunda aka DJ Ira, as well as singer Sophia Nzayisenga, a renowned Inanga instrumentalist.

With fusion music, bandleader Nkomeza said Shauku can contribute to promoting Rwanda’s cultural music and push it until it becomes popular among Africans and beyond.

“We do fusion music where we can bring together music from other cultures in Africa or beyond and mix it with gakondo music to relate the music we are doing to Rwandan culture. I believe this can be a new channel to present and promote our ‘rich’ culture to people from different countries who love our music,” he said.

“We can now take different music styles and perform them live with Rwandan musical instruments and some modern instruments to mix them and make a fusion vibe that can make people have a different feeling on our music,” he added.

Nzayisenga is the oldest member of the band. It doesn’t bother her or anyone else in the band either because it was part of the band’s plans to have members of all ages in the same band, and especially a cultural musician who can help the band to put Rwandan cultural music on the map.

She said she already sees the band’s fusion music as a crucial weapon to show Rwandans and people from other countries the potential of Rwanda’s cultural music when mixed with other styles.

“Over the past two years, I’ve been training children how they can play Inanga as I was pushing to promote Rwanda’s culture music from the young generation. But I started to believe that I can do a lot more in promoting our cultural music when I joined the Shauku Band because we have the same vision. To me, to see this band born is a dream come true,” Nzayisenga said.

Shauku band already has an album of 13 songs under their belt, with their first song ‘Joli’ now out.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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