Kathy Ndagire walks into the room with calculated footsteps. She is of average height. Clad in a knee-high dress of black and red print with a medium size bag hanging over her right shoulder teamed with black platform shoes, she struts in the room for an interview.
Before taking a seat on the sofa set, she uses her right hand to pull back the blonde hair (I think is a weave) that rests on the nape of her neck before flashing a smile at me.
It is hard to notice her voice when she starts speaking. It is soft and faint but audible.
Ndagire who is commonly known as Katalina is the sweet-voiced 23-year- old behind the renowned gospel hits like Nyweza, a collaboration she did with Emma Kusaasira aka Coopy Bly, I am blessed, Destiny, Kiwedde (it is finished) and Jehovah Jireh.
Budding artiste and her first song
“My musical breakthrough was in 2011 and the first track I recorded was Nyweza, the one I did with Coopy Bly which surprisingly got massive airplay across various radio and television stations,” she says.
In order to record and shoot a video for Nyweza, a direct translation for “be firm”, Ndagire reveals that they had to use most of their savings and acquire loans in order to foot the bill of about Shs1.4m.
Katalina and Coopy Bly are allies whose friendship dates from way back in school. They studied together at Seeta High School, main campus throughout their O-Level.
It was also while at the school that she met Comfort Kayeny, a girl who later became her best friend and drew her into gospel music.
“Comfort loved singing in the choir and writing songs that bore spiritual messages. Since I was always with her, I also ended up composing my own songs,” she says.
Throughout high school, Ndagire sang in the choir and at one time was appointed choir mistress. She did not immediately embark on a musical journey after her Senior Six because her mother advised her to finish studies first.
However, financial constraints did not permit her to complete the orthopaedics course she was doing at Mulago Paramedical School.
“Mummy did not have enough money for educating my four siblings and I. So, I put the studies on hold until further notice,” she says.
It was during this difficult time that she crossed paths with Coopy Bly who encouraged her to venture into music instead of sitting home idle, a piece of advice she later followed.
“So far, I’m not complaining. I love singing because it uplifts different people with the various spiritual inspirational messages the songs contain.”
Composing the songs
She draws motivation from personal experiences to write her songs.
“If I am going through a very tough time for instance, I write down how I feel at that particular moment and solicit advice from different people on how to transform it into a good song,” Ndagire says.
She also draws inspiration from fellow gospel artistes. These include Sam Lukas Lugolobyo aka Levixone, the late Mark Elvis Mutalya aka Mac Elvis and Juanita Bynum who is also an American Pentecostal televangelist.
How music has changed her life so far
Unlike before when Ndagire lived a somewhat kind of low profile life, she says that it is not the case anymore.
“There are times I have performed at concerts and I hear people screaming, ‘Katalina!’. Since I was not used to it at first, I would get so scared because it was difficult to take everything in. Those moments were overwhelming for me,”she says.
She adds, “At least now I am used to the attention.”
Even with this change in status, Ndagire strongly believes that she still needs to work very hard to get to the level of other renowned gospel artistes like Pastor Wilson Bugembe and Judith Babirye.
Besides having more albums, Ndagire’s first nomination for a gospel music award is in the upcoming Victoria Gospel Music Awards (VIGA) slated to take place in July this year in the category, Upcoming New Artiste of the year for her song I’m Blessed.
Ndagire hopes to set up a charity organisation aimed at helping disadvantaged children and women in the next five years.