A boatload of music comes out each day, making it a challenge for new artistes to transcend beyond anonymity.
However, thanks to the constant churn of YouTube and Sound Cloud, the music industry is transforming faster than ever.
Rwanda’s music industry has a plethora of names to keep an eye on, and their path from anonymity to stardom has never been shorter.
Some have seemingly gone viral overnight, while others have taken a more traditional path toward the limelight. We examine some of these artistes, in no particular order, that you should be paying attention to in 2019.
An alumni of Nyundo School of Music, the 23 year old had a good year in 2018 as three of his singles Ndagutekereza, Back and Iyo utekereza received massive airplay.
Part of his success can be attributed to his early exposure to the music industry, having joined the music school in his teenage years, where he formed the Sebeya Band together with other students.
Emmy Nsengiyumva, an entertainment journalist, believes that besides being talented musically, as a music producer and drummer with Kina Music, his musical success shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“He released just two songs and they became popular, all that is required of him is to work hard and he will definitely break through,” he says.
Marie France Gusenga and Lionel Mugisha
These two were the overall winner and first runner up of ‘I Am the Future’ music competition, respectively, beating over 38 other contestants that were picked from every district of the country.
David Tuyishime, the CEO of Future Records that organised the competition, believes that merely being the overall winners means they are musically unique in terms of their vocal ability, presence and musical skills, compared to other musicians currently in the industry.
“Our mission as a company is to make the winners, musical stars known within and outside the continent so as to impact Rwandan music positively,” he says.
Rukotana joined the industry in 2017, and has since garnered a huge number of fans, if his YouTube views are anything to go by. Rwandan artiste, Uncle Austin has been his mentor having been under the same label.
For Nsengiyumva, this is an added advantage although he believes that Rukotana still needs to push his management to work harder to push his music further.
Yemba Voice is a group of three upcoming artistes, who like Mabano studied music at Nyundo School of Music. Not only do they pull off beautiful performances on stage, the group has released songs like Turakundanaand Ntiruzashira.
They are currently being mentored and managed by Afro singer Mani Martin. As a successful Rwandan artiste with experience in the industry, Mani martin is entrusted with expanding their music across the country.
If only they could release more songs and work harder, they are capable of raising the Rwandan flag high.
Stella Tushabe is a saxophonist with talent and passion evident in her performances. She began doing weekly performances at Hotel Villa Portofino last year although she still does music covers.
Remmy Lubega, CEO of RG Consult, has worked with her on several occasions says having a local female lead instrumentalist like Tush is very encouraging and confirmes that we can do better to encourage others.
“She just needs to choose the right team to work with to win and take the game from just covers to recording,” he says.
Even though he’s little known, Mpano has been in the industry for a long time but took a break to further his studies, only to bounce back on the music scene bigger and better, releasing more hit songs like Mama Loloand Sinarenzaho.
Nsengiyumva believes that the singer, however, has to take his competition seriously and only then will he be one of Rwanda’s most sought after artistes.
After nine years of on the music scene, Alyn Sano held her first major gig last year in June.
She performed with her band, and also shared the stage with Mani Martin and Hope Irakoze, at the well-attended jazz and soul-themed live concert.
Even with her strong vocals, Lubega insists that compared to her great potential her vocals are not enough, “as a focused team and management to realign and strategise best may be the missing link.”
If there is anyone that you should be ready for on the gospel scene it is gospel singer Dinah Uwera. In fact, Lubega rates her one of the most promising artistes in gospel arena after Mbonyi, but believes that she will still need a strong team to push her further.
She was awarded best female gospel artiste of 2017 at the Groove Awards and has been staging successful concerts.
She is expected to grace the stage at the highly anticipated MTN Kigali Praise Fest, alongside Don Moen, IsrealMbonyi, and Aflewo next month.
Born Arnold Kabera, Sintex has been doing music since 2012, but with little visibility.
Since 2016, however, his profile has been on a steady rise, thanks to a handful of singles and collabos like Ndabyimenyera, Let’s talk about love,and Why, as well as well collaborations with a string of local musicians.
The afro dancehall artiste has had success with the release of his singles Byina, Icyoroshye, and Ndakucyika.