A battle that almost failed at execution stage

Sheebah took all the scores on fashion while Cindy (R) put all her focus on singing. Photos/Isaac Ssejjombwe

What you need to know:

  • After several months of anticipation, preparation and determination, the highly anticipated first female music battle finally happened at Kololo Airstrip  between Cindy and Sheebah. 

The venue
Kololo airstrip was the perfect venue for this battle because of the enough space, but also it favoured the organisers, Victoria University, who had earlier held a graduation ceremony at the same grounds, so shifting to other grounds would have been costly. They had secured the venue for two days. Besides that, Kololo Airstrip is easily accessible; the main gate opposite Nyonyi gardens was used for the ordinary section while the VIPs used the entrance near the NIRA offices. As usual, the VIPs and VVIPs were given seats for their comfort. 

The crowd
Thousands thronged the venue, many clad in T-shirts branded with their artiste’s camp or name. Team Sheebah known as ‘Sheebaholics’ and Team Cindy known as ‘Cindycates’ were seen on different sides of the stage, with some holding placards bearing pictures of their artistes, others with cheeky and cheering quotes. Many were seen snapping away and taking pictures but for most, you could clearly see the tension on their faces.

Besides the main entrance, there were two other entrances; the long queues kept growing until 9pm when the show started. Going by the crowd reaction, Cindycates were a joy to watch. They kept cheering, singing along to her songs the entire show, bowed every time she did something different, chanted her name and lifted chairs as she did her last songs. Sheebhaholics just followed, doing exactly what the opponent fans did. From our observation, the cheering was not loud enough and its impact was not felt.  

The stage and sound
Kadanke Brand House was entrusted with the organisation of the show. They put up perhaps the biggest stage by local acts. The space where the two artistes were performing from was 15 metres in length and 12 metres in width, with the central part being reserved for security. It is said the height of the roofless stage was more than 15 metres while the whole stage was 40 metres wide. They had splitting screens on either end, big enough to accommodate about 15 members of either camp, which both artistes used to their advantage. From their bands, dancers, security and emcees. 

It was still Kadanke responsible for the sound of this event but with an event of such magnitude, they failed at this one. Some speakers kept going off and Cindy at one time complained that the feedback from the speakers in front of her was poor thus she resorted to performing from the back of the stage. Cindy’s microphone during her first session was low, which was later rectified. 

The emcees
According to Kasuku, who was part of the organising team, original planning had Zahara Toto as Sheebah’s main emcee while Nimrod was Cindy’s while Kasuku was the mediator between the two. Their simple task was to introduce their artistes and hype them accordingly but they shifted from the script, deciding to go personal at each other. 
“The two became unruly and were not listening to anyone. It was as though they had for a very long time wanted to tell each other off but could not get the right place until that moment. The rest of the emcees that came through were not supposed to be there. They were just fillers,” he said.  

Rules and regulations
Before show time, both artistes were given rules and regulations to follow for fairness of the battle. Among these were not to sing any other artiste’s song, not cross to your opponent’s side and not involve any artiste who you did not have a collaboration with the performer. Cindy broke some of the rules. She invited Zex Bilangilangi on stage yet they do not have any song together, she also performed covers such as The Lord is My Shepherd by Brenda Fassie and Brick and Lace’s Slippery When Wet in her sessions. 

Microphones and instruments would be muted whenever an artiste left the stage for the other but the person in charge of that seemed to have forgotten what to do. Emcees and artistes were heard rumbling at each other on most occasions. 

Every artiste was given 20 minutes of performances in the first three sessions but Sheebah kept exceeding her time while in the last session, they would each perform two songs.

Both artistes made their entrance felt. Sheebah came seated in a chair with four bouncers lifting her with a crown on her head while Cindy came in a box with a King crown on top. 

Celebrity stylist Abbas Kaijuka was in charge of Sheebah’s dresscode while Kyaligonza Fashion dressed Cindy. Doing this for long and with Sheebah among those he has been dressing, many agreed that the self-proclaimed queen Karma took the evening fashion-wise while Kyaligonza, who happens to be Cindy’s sister, did not give the artiste that extra touch for such a show.

Back up
Both artistes agreed to perform live, with Maestro band doing the backup for Sheebah. Since they have been backing her up for a long time, they know her voice range and on several occasions have been filling her gaps but this time round the two did not match well together. They band outplayed the artiste and on several occasions, the backup was heard doing the singing more than the artiste. Cindy on the other hand used her band known as Band Cindy. While she has been performing for more than 10 years, she is the lead while they follow her cue. The chemistry between them was unmatched.   

Stage presence
We have to give it to Sheebah. It is one of her strongest attributes and she exhibited it well. She was more engaging with the fans, put up an energetic showcase with her dancers. Despite the crowd’s overwhelming support, Cindy concentrated more on singing and less engagement.  

It would not have been a battle if there was no banter and Cindy proved she is the master of it. She kept poking Sheebah at every opportunity she got and the fans loved every bit of it. 
Some of the lines that Cindy used include “We should know originals and copycats,” when she was about to perform the song. “By the time you start giving testimonies, it seems your songs are done.” “There is a very big difference between talent and hustle and we are going to see it today.”

After performing Silwana with Carol Nantongo, Sheebah gave her as an example of artistes who have vocals but are always quiet about it and in response, Cindy said instead of her giving reference to herself, she was praising other people.