Suubi: The baby who sung herself awake

Friday February 27 2015
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Sandra Suubi sings in the just concluded Airtel Trace Nusic Stars finals at Kampala Serena Hotel recently. She bagged Shs100 million after emerging the best in the competitions. Photo by Lubowa Abubaker

Sandra Suubi Nakitto, 24, still has another hurdle to beat in order to come up close with RnB superstar, Akon. Although she beat all competition and won Shs100m at Serena Kampala Hotel last Saturday, 12 other African Airtel Trace Music Star (ATMS) winners stand between her and the opportunity to be mentored by the Senegalese American-based star.

The competition for the Pan African winner will be on March 28 in Nairobi and Suubi is optimistic. She says: “I have looked at other contestants’ performances on You tube and they are good. I am going to keep practicing what I was taught and will do my best to win because I know that this competition is no longer about me, but representing the entire country.”

On meeting Akon
The bubbly singer breaks into a smile and the temple of her voice rises when she talks about Akon. “When I meet Akon, I will ask him to tell me his story,” she says cheekly.

Producer Washington, a.k.a David Ebangit, one of the three Ugandan ATMS judges and Suubi’s mentor, says she has what it takes to win the competition. “The whole country just has to vote for her, otherwise she is a very good vocalist, good stage performer and easily relates with the band.” He believes Suubi has already worked on her weaknesses and the fact that she won the money says it all.

Agreeing with Washington’s compliments, Angella Katatumba, a fellow judge, advises that what remains is working on her confidence and balancing her voice. “She has a very powerful voice, which she will need to balance between powerful, soft and sexy,” she says.

In regard to the Shs100m Suubi won, Katatumba hopes that she surrounds herself with people who will help her grow her music career with the money. Still excited about the money, Suubi hopes to use it to nurture young people’s talent in art and music and grow her music career with her band, Xabu.


Applying for ATMS
About two months ago, on one of the evenings, an advert: Call, Sing and Win, which had become common on television and radio, ran on the Kasule family television set. Suubi’s father, Paul Kasule, encouraged her to apply. She recorded her voice and sent it to 162.

Suubi says she did not hesitate taking part because she has been singing for as long as she can remember. “When I was young, I loved to sing and dance. Before evening prayers, my siblings and I used to queue up and sing praise and worship songs. We would rehearse every evening, especially when power was off.” In Nairobi, Suubi anticipates a week-long practice before grand finale on March 28. In preparation for this, the first thing she does when she wakes up is to pray and do voice warm exercises that include sit-ups and panting dog exercise.
She then eats fruit salad, including a banana before she sets off to school. She resumes the practice in the evening.

In the evenings, she does voice drills, sings as she dances to perfect doing the two concurrently and watches other performances to learn different presentation techniques. She also rehearses the songs she will perform on the final day.

Her Mother, Sarah Kasule, says even as a baby, they would know that Suubi had woken up by hearing her hum instead of the usual baby cries. Born in a family of two children, Kasule describes her daughter as a very independent and hyper-active child, who entertained visitors whenever they hosted. “We did not have to beg Sandra to sing but rather to keep quiet. She has held onto that vibrant character until now,” says Kasule.

But her first break through was in 2003 at Gayaza High School when a Senior Two friend [Daphine] heard her sing while ironing. “I was singing a song, A Moment Like This by Kelly Clarkson when she walked to me and told me that I had a nice voice. She then asked me to sing for her, which I hesitantly did.”

In the evening, Daphine told her she had told her classmates that she [Suubi] sings well and requested that she sings for her class. Being a newcomer, she says she felt nervous but went ahead and sang. The applause that greeted her upon completion, however, marked a new beginning in her school music participation
She says she joined several school church groups such as Chapel Choir and Girls of Faith, among others. She later joined Novelle Band in 2010 and later Xabu Band, which comprises three girls whom she still sings with. Actually, one of the ATMS finalists, Brenda Nantongo, is band member.

Type of music
Suubi describes her music as R&B and Soul. She says she mainly sings gospel, inspiration kind of music. She is inspired by Angelic Joli, Mandisa, Israel Houston and Juliana Kanyomozi.
Believing that music and art are a form of communication that should be used properly, she urges the youth who have this talent to use it for God’s glory. “I believe God does not make mistakes and He has given me this gift for a reason.”

Her education and career
Sandra Suubi attended Mackinon Kindergarten, Nakasero Primary School and later completed primary education at Green Hill Academy. She then went to Gayaza High School for O and A-Level.

Suubi pursued a Bachelor of Industrial Art where she majored in sculpture and culture fabrication at Makerere University.

Besides singing, she uses recycled material such as plastic bottles to create art. She showcased some of her products in the 2013 Bayimba International Festival of the Arts.
Currently, she is pursuing a Masters of Industrial Art at Makerere University.