Celebrated artiste, Jacques Murigande aka Mighty Popo has urged folk music artistes to adapt to changing times to remain relevant.
Mighty Popo says there is need to make traditional music more attractive the youth.
To be able to do that, the musician believes in the necessity to develop a deep understanding of music, including music from abroad.
“Rwandan artistes need to understand the evolution of other music styles, how we got where we are. We need to understand jazz, gospel and of course blues. Our music is similar to blues, so we really need to understand it,” says Mighty Popo.
He notes that although the Rwandan youth are creative, they need to canalise their energy in the right way.
“Some of them reproduce what they see on TV, on MTV, and they think that that is music. There are others however who believe that they need to work hard,” he adds.
Those are the ones he wants to work with.
Mighty Popo is a strong advocate of the fusion between traditional and modern styles to attract wider audiences as he believes that those who buy purely commercial music will not buy purely traditional music. For a more traditional artiste to be able to make a living, he believes that it is crucial to find the right balance between both.
This, among other things, is what he is aiming to teach at the Nyundo Art and Music School, the country’s first public music school. In fact, Mighty Popo wishes to professionalise the art of music.
The school currently is in its second year, offering three year long professional music programmes. They teach their students music standards, what a good instrument is and how to maintain it, music production with new technology, and much more. There is also a lot of singing involved.
Through the school, Popo is trying to see how to create a typically Rwandan musical identity. He wants to see what kind of magic will come out of it; magic which we are already starting to see.
“Rwandans cannot live without music,” he admits, “The youth are having fun with it, and the impact is great. Music has lessons to teach, messages to spread, it makes you want to debate, like on the radio for example. Music brings a lot.”
At the moment, music is not yet having a noticeable impact on the country’s economy. But, Mighty Popo is hoping that, in the years to come, that is a development that will take place in the country, thanks to the Nyundo Art & Music school where they teach not only how to make good music, but also how to make business.