A vocally gifted songstress

Sunday November 22 2015

Jemimah Sanyu performs at Jaz Ville in

Jemimah Sanyu performs at Jaz Ville in Bugolobi. Photo BY EDGAR R. BATTE  

By Edgar R. Batte

As a girl, Jemimah Sanyu was a member of Sunday school at Jinja Christian Centre (JCC). When she was older, she was enrolled into the church choir because she had a melodious voice.

Thanks to her religious mother who always carried her alongside her siblings every Sunday to church. Sanyu’s mother was also in the same church choir. Even at home, her mother would be humming all the time. This automatically rubbed off onto her children.

After university, in 2006, Sanyu looked for a place to expose her talent. She joined singer Sarah Zawedde’s Zawee Band as her back-up singer. While she did vocal, she was noticed by music producer Henry Kiwuuwa.
“We did a few projects together, including a song I am a Ugandan that featured 40 musicians. They had to pick only six best songs. I thank God that my song was one of them,” Sanyu recollects.

The song opened doors for her. She was approached to do another project titled Hakuna Wakati on which she worked with veteran Afrigo Band singer, Joanita Kawalya. It was a worldwide project about safe-delivery for mothers.
“We had different people coming from different countries. We even had Yvonne Chaka Chaka,” she recalls, adding that Kiwuuwa remained her main music producer. Together, they would also compose songs. Later on, she met producers Legend P, again and Nash.

She had initially met Legend P when she was still in God’s Army, a dance group. Their second meeting culminated in a business relationship.

“After hearing what I was capable of doing, he started doing single projects for me. In 2010, I did Ziba amaso and Amaaso go gogela. In the same year, I met producer Nash at Crystal Clear. We teamed up and did Kankusute,” the singer explains.

She needed to promote herself as a singer and that is when the idea of starting a live band occurred to her. People had told her that she could handle a live session and it was a good marketing strategy. She took their advice and she started backing up Zawedde, at Kampala Entertainment Centre. They also got a gig at The Heights, at Centenary Park. Later on in 2010 she landed a deal to perform at Hotel Manol, in Kigali-Rwanda.

It was a good opportunity for her because it gave her a platform to be noticed. When she returned to Uganda, Janzi Band’s leader, James Ssewakiryanga, talked to her about joining his band.

She agreed and was lead vocalist of Janzi for two years. When she left Janzi, she started her project Jemimah Sanyu with Unit 446, which is under Lab 446.

“It is a studio headed by producer Legend P. This is a big dream comprising a live band and media library with unit 446. I partnered with Legend P,” she adds.

She has done a music collaboration with rapper, Navio, on a remix of Amaaso go gogela. “He is a friend to the producer. I first did the verses and the chorus and they called him. He listened to the song and fell in love with it and put in a rap,” she recalls. That is her music collaboration so far.

Where she has performed
Sanyu was one of the guest performers at the fourth edition of Selam Festival in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earlier in the year. She says it was a big opportunity. She says festival scouts saw her at the Bayimba International Festival of the Arts last year. She performed with her band in Addis Ababa.

Sanyu performs at Jazz Ville Bar & Restaurant in Bugolobi, Cayenne Bar Lounge and Restaurant, Bubbles and Lake Victoria Serena Resort in Kigo, off Entebbe road, every Sunday. They do corporate gigs on Fridays and Saturdays.

About Jemimah Sanyu
Born: March 27, 1986 inJinja.
Studied: Computer science at Makerere University Kampala.
In her free time: She goes out with friends and hairdressing her mother
She looks up to: Makoma, Angelique Kidjo and Beyonce for their good stage presence
Best advice ever: Music is not a hobby, it’s a business what you put in is what you get.