Fusing traditional with modern

Saturday June 28 2014

Okello plays the Adungu, a local musical

Okello plays the Adungu, a local musical instrument. 

By Lawrence Ogwal

If you are keen on attending traditional music concerts, Lawrence Okello
is a personality you will not miss. His creativity makes him stand out
from the crowd as he expertly fuses both traditional and modern
instruments. That way, he penetrates through many cultures across the
country. Inspired by the love for preserving culture, with the goal of
bringing back to life the music of the elders, Okello has never dreamt of
doing a different genre of music, no wonder the artiste plays the
instruments and sings at the same time.
“My type of music is called roots or traditional music. Some people
prefer to call it world music. I also do fusion music, where I mix the
traditional and the modern instruments,” he says.
Okello left Ndere Troupe last year. “I wanted to try out some solo
projects. I started by volunteering at Sosolya Centre, a home where we
look after young children and promote their talents. I am still working
there as the artistic and music director,” he explains.
The musician, who is inspired by his past experience, is from this year
going to start performing as a solo artiste; “I have an upcoming album
called Pecho, which means village because I started everything from back
in the village,” he says.
The project will have a song he reproduced called Ganga lula, which was
first done by Sempeke in 1950. His genre of music, however, does come
with a great challenge. “Ugandans don’t support cultural music. They
don’t accept what is theirs,” laments Okello.
On Ugandan music scene generally, Okello says: “I don’t know what the
other artistes sing, as they sing songs which do not even have meanings.
They just abuse each other and then launch albums.”
Asked about his future plans, Okello says he wants to start performing
for a big crowd as a solo artiste and also raise more funds to support
Sosolya Centre.

What they say about Okello’ music

‘Okello is among the few Ugandan artistes who have lifted high our
Ugandan artistry through ancestral percussion sounds,’
Phillip Masembe, Cordinator Bayimba cultural centre

‘I have worked with him for a long time, all I can say is that he is so
talented. Lawrence is so good with his instruments. I see a good future
with his type of music.’
Joel Sebunjo, folk musician