Burundian Zouk sensation Kidum, real name, Jean-Pierre Nimbona’s heart not only belongs to Rwanda, he calls it home. His love for the country began in 2003, during his first performance in the country. The connection between him and his fans was instant.
“I came as a solo artiste and the organisers had to get me a band to back me up. That’s where things first got messed up because I did not practice with them and they were therefore not familiar with my style. My songs that were played during that time had a very big impact and despite the disconnection with the band, I could feel the chemistry that I had with my audience.”
“I’m sure that those who were in attendance still remember that show. It is where everything started and when I see the love that people had for me, I take Rwanda as my home where I can find support,” he narrates.”
He adds that his most memorable show is when he performed at the Mutzig Beerfest. He was wowed by his fans.
A woman from the audience removed her wedding ring and gave it to me. I know that I performed very well but I had never seen anything like that. I have performed with reggae artistes like Lucky Dube, Alpha Blondy, and Kassav but that show was massive and I will live to remember it.
One of his biggest fans is President Kagame who once expressed his love for the singer’s music. He reacts to this with a scripture.
“You know the Bible says that talent makes room for you and makes you sit with the Kings. So if the president loves my songs, that is favor from God. Not everyone is admired by a Head of state,” he says.
The just concluded Rwanda Konnect, where the zouk singer performed proves him right. The show attracted people from walks of life: government officials, celebrities, the Rwandan diaspora and still, he was able to keep them on their feet, performing his songs like Sherekea, Amasozi y’urukundo and Intimba.
He further pulled off his performance when he performed with 3Hills’ Hope Irakoze, ‘Vimba’, a collabo that he did with the trio, to the excitement of the revellers.
Promoting his music
The 43-year- old has released several albums but according to him, albums don’t work anymore.
“Currently, one single can have more value than your albums because people only care about your hits, so you have to be strategic because without talent and strategy you cannot go far,” he explains.
The Nairobi based singer reveals that of late, he has been in studio doing several recordings, live performances and rebranding himself‘accordingly’.
Kidum began his music journey in 1984, at the age of ten, as a drummer. Two years later he joined the Imvumero Band, his first music band and worked with them worked for six years.
Thereafter, he released his first song about peace, Yaramenje that brought him to fame as a solo artiste. He reveals that these many years of experience are what have shaped his music.
“I have had experience,” he narrates, “from different generations. When the first television broadcast arrived in Burundi, we listened to Kassav, a zouk influence. Later on, it was Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Third world in 80’s, and many others and that was another generation of reggae.”
“We also knew South African Music because of the Apartheid, Congolese music and Senegalese music because they were many living in Burundi until the 90s when we experienced our very own Christophe Matata. He did well until he gave up because his audience moved on to another musical influence and he felt discouraged and backed out.”
“In our current reggae world we are experiencing new styles of Zouk, Nigerian music, which by the way I think are copied from Congolese music and blended with dancehall to give it a different. That is why I think Congolese music is the real music.”
The legendary singer is now set to upgrade his zouk style of music to move with the flow.
“You know time changes and I’m currently upgrading my game to be one of the best in Africa. That is what I am aiming now. My old songs are left behind because I did not start in a digitalized era yet today’s people tend to focus on digitalized talent, which I call showbiz because it’s not real.”
“I think that the time to realise real talent is now and not artistes imagining that they are doing well because of media influence,” he explains.
So what determines real talent? I ask.
“Being able to entertain your audience effortlessly in acoustic form so that the crowd can feel your authentic voice.To be real artistes should not entirely rely on auto tune. We need to identify their voices because auto tune just makes all of them similar.”
“I have worked with many artistes but they are afraid to sing. It feels like they are appearing naked before people and they begin to forge around some extra tunes.” he advises.