There is a star rising in Sweden that will shine brightly over Uganda. Sabina Ddumba is a star waiting in the wings to make Uganda proud.
Like the other Ugandan musicians; Philly Bongoley Lutaaya and Madoxx Sematimba, who came out of Sweden, this new entrant has got talent.
The 23-year-old artiste visited Uganda at the close of last year, under the auspices of the Swedish embassy in Uganda and the reason had everything to do with her career.
“I am here to announce myself,” Ddumba said. “Ugandans do not know that I exist so I am hoping that this visit will help introduce me to my people here.”
Although her December 4 show at the National Theatre was marred by a poor sound system, the small crowd of mostly music professionals and expats were more than impressed by her friendly spirit and great vocal abilities.
More noteworthy, to those who follow Uganda’s music history keenly, this event was like the star that led the three wise men to Bethlehem; a queen was about to be born in the Uganda music industry.
More talent from Stockholm
Uganda and Sweden have had a great musical relationship for decades. Like a sweet, generous aunt who spoils you behind your parents’ back with expensive gifts, Sweden has given Uganda some of her best music over the years.
Around Kampala in the festive season just ended, the soundtrack to most of the Christmas shopping was music from the Christmas album by Philly Bongoley Lutaaya recorded in 1986 in Sweden.
Cut to the year 2000, 14 years after Lutaaya’s Christmas album came out, another musical gift came out of Stockholm to Kampala. That is the year Madoxx Sematimba’s Tukolagane was released.
Another 14 years later, Sweden did it again. While still unfamiliar to many, Ddumba is rising through the music ranks at a fast pace.
The Swedish-born Ugandan released her first single, Scarred For Life in 2014 and in three years, she has had a meteoric rise to stardom.
The numbers say it all.
Sabina’s most successful single so far, Not too Young has been streamed 39 million times on the digital music service, Spotify. She has sold out two tours at Sweden’s biggest festivals, Bråvalla and Stockholm and she won a Grammy (Sweden) for newcomer of the year 2016 on top of other prestigious awards. All these accolades in just three years. Add that to the fact that at 19, before she went professional, she was featured on Katy Perry’s hit song, Walking on Air.
Ddumba’s global aspirations
Ddumba promises to be a big hit because she is effortlessly talented and sings flawlessly in English, so she has international reach. Though she is fluent in Luganda and Swedish, her language of choice is English. “If I sang in Swedish, I would cut off non Swedish people,” she says. “And if I sang in Luganda, I would reach only Uganda. I chose English because then, I can reach the world. That is my aspiration.”
Big scores in quick succession
Sabina participated in the X Factor Sverige in 2012.
In 2014, Ddumba released her first single, Scarred for Life and in 2015, signed with Warner Music Sweden.
In 2015, she released a musical gem Effortless, It was certified platinum in Sweden.
Her most successful song Not Too Young was released on her
Homeward bound in 2016 and the song was certified double platinum.
In Not Too Young, she blurs the lines between 1990’s RnB and current hip-hop with her effortless vocal abilities that make you believe in love again.
Asked if Homeward Bound was about Uganda, she had this to say: “Homeward bound is not necessarily about Uganda. Yes, Uganda might be my home, but home is where you make it, and that can be anywhere, any place that gives you peace. To me home is about the right path.”
The origins of Ddumba
Sabina Ddumba was born on February 23, 1994 in Fisksätra, Nacka. She is the sixth born out of eight children. “This is my third visit to Uganda. The first was when I was six, then when I was 12. However, while growing up in Sweden, we were very well connected to our roots,” she says. “My siblings and I sang lots of Luganda traditional songs and nursery rhymes. This is how I became interested in music.”
Ddumba’s mother moved back to Uganda when she was eight years old. Ddumba has lived in Sweden with her father ever since. She praises him for being her source of inspiration. Ddumba started writing songs when she was 10 and her talent was polished by the church, having joined a gospel choir at the age of 14.