Maurice Kirya: A star returns to stage

Maurice Kirya

What you need to know:

The return: The last time singer Maurice Kirya held an event was after the global lockdown when he unleashed his current album; The Road to Kirya at Design Hub in Kampala on June 10, 2022. A celebrated Afro-soul, Kirya will be performing live in concert today at Kampala Serena Hotel.

Following almost 36 months of no show in Uganda, singer Maurice Kirya returned with a 12-track album dubbed The Road to Kirya, which is the sixth body of work to be released by the singer.

The release was followed with a release event dubbed Road to Kirya Party at Design Hub in Kampala, where the singer crooned to hundreds of fans and live music enthusiasts.

The album that is a toast to Afrobeat, Folk and Jazz did not fail to find room for Uganda’s budding Afro-neo soul, alias Omwooyo, a genre that actually defines Kirya’s music more.

Before his audience would come to terms with an incredible realm of poetry and storytelling off his album with songs such as Yakuntondera, Sejjiga, Lindako and others, the singer treated fans to a dance with another single called Bbuba, a song that has enjoyed thousands of streams on various streaming services.

His performance at Design Hub was his first show in two years, so he chose a venue that suited his diehard audience that is more accustomed to his style of music.

The album offered snippets of the relationship struggles and why it did not live to see the end of 2013. Songs such as Too Good for Me and Horses in the Sky, seemed to paint a picture of how he felt about the relationship.

A good 22 years

Having run a 22-year race in Uganda’s music industry, Maurice Kirya froze the hearts of his fans when he contemplated an end of an under-celebrated career.

Out of the blue, the singer took to social media on December 7 and said: “It has been a good 22 years! To all my fans, friends and supporters that made this journey worth it, Thank you! I hope you keep the memories alive. One last one for the road! 2023,” he shared.

He revealed that his last appearances would be in New York, London, Paris, Rotterdam, Berlin, Dubai, Nairobi, Kigali and later in Kampala.

Much as the fans welcomed the idea of the tour and the performance in Kampala, most of them took to their socials asking the crooner to reverse the idea of quitting his stellar career.

A month after Kirya’s unwanted announcement, the 38-year-old singer announced that he was back in the music business.

He took to his social media to announce the reversal.

“GOD says to me that my WORK in MUSIC is not done. It is FAR from being done. I will SING,” he said.

Maurice then treated his fans to new music videos; Sejjiga and Akasolo off his new album, The Road to Kirya, prompting requests for a concert from his avid followers.

The singer then announced September 8 as the concert date for his “Kirya Live”show at Kampala Serena Hotel, which is his usual concert venue. He made the announcement on social media in February.

All these mixed events ensued at the heels of the singer’s announcement that suggested that he had parted ways with his Dutch based wife, Lisa Gceverbeek.

The singer had earlier shared on his platform, saying: “It has already been a year since we mutually separated. We have learnt how to co-parent and are doing a great job at it. Our friendship will always remain, as will the undeniable bond we have as parents to our dear daughter,” he wrote.

The concert

Kirya shares that his self-funded concert is an opportunity for him to share passionate odes to his fans and lovers of Ugandan music.

The singer notes that he has no intention to pre-empt his “Grammy-like” performance but promises an amazing performance.

The concert will also see Malawian Afro-pop sensation, Lawrence Khwisa, alias Lulu, performing that day.

A multi-talented star and guitarist who used to make his own guitars to harbour his fascination for the instrument, will for the first time share a stage with Kirya.

The concert is surely a celebration Ugandan Soul and RnB’s journey, present and future. For instance, the show will offer space to Afro fusionist Brian Aliddeki, Ebrahim Soul’O and Afro-soul Kenneth Mugabi.

Not just a singer

There is more to Maurice Kirya than his amazing music and guitar skills. Earlier in 2013, the singer started investing in coffee business as he birthed a new brand called the The Sound Cup, which operates in both Uganda and the Netherlands - his second home.

His coffee project is more than a business since he uses it to fundraise for various community outreaches, health awareness, research programmes and create employment for the youth on top of supporting music and arts initiatives.

Talking art, when Kirya is not in studio or running his coffee business, acting is another talent that he puts out to movie lovers.

His role in Loukman Ali’s, The Girl In The Yellow Jumper, has been widely applauded and the actor feels like he has a part to play in building Uganda’s budding film industry.

The singer shares that he is working on a couple of film projects both locally and internationally.

Kirya was nominated in the category of “Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film” for his role in The Girl In The Yellow Jumper at the annual Uganda Film Festival awards.

An acting career that began is Season 3 of local TV show The Hostel, Kirya has featured in other film acting credits, including Queen of Katwe, where he plays alongside Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

He has also featured in The Last King of Scotland directed by Kevin Macdonald.

The Kirya you did not know

Kirya started his music career as early as 1999 and in 2010 he won RFI’s Discoveries Music Awards and walked away with a grant worth 18,000 Euros to be used in the development of his career.

Today, he has managed to stage performances in more than 35 African countries.

In 2000 Maurice Kirya recorded an album with a friend called Gil Martin (Martin Galiwango). Unfortunately, the radios could not play the music since he had recorded his vocal compositions to beats that he did not own, an honest amateur mistake.

He joined the street performances as a singer, a rapper and a break dancer. It was during this time that he found a half burnt guitar which he decided to fix with his friend Cosmas, using car clutch cables as guitar strings.

In 2002 he doubled as a singer in a gospel group called Evolution and also as a secular artiste touring schools to perform for teenage fans.

It was outside the DV8 bar where he met Steve Jean, a music producer in Kampala who then recorded Maurice Kirya’s first hit song Stop.

In 2003 he released a song Beera Naabo produced by Andrew Kiwanuka at VR Studios.

In 2003 he joined Ugandan musician Richard Kaweesa as his guitarist and vocal sidekick, together they travelled to Rwanda and played at many corporate events in Uganda, giving Maurice Kirya the experience he needed to scale up.

In 2005 his music was appreciated by Tanzanian hip hop legend AY, real name Ambwene Yesaya, and with the help of Hemdee Kiwanuka, a collabo, Binadamu, was recorded at No End Studio.

Kirya has performed with Moussa Diallo (Mali), 2 Face Idibia (Nigeria), Yvonne Chaka Chaka (South Africa), Indigenous (Belgium) Susanna Owiyo (Kenya), AY (Tanzania) among many.

A musical family

Maurice Kirya’s brother, Elvis Kirya alias Vampino, would often take Kirya to clubs where they would perform as a duo, performing dancehall songs by Buju Banton and Red Rat, with Maurice Kirya performing as Red Rat.

Kirya shares that his brothers have always supported him. His eldest brother Alex Kirya alias Saba Saba is one of Uganda’s hip hop pioneers and member of the group, Bataka Underground. Alex would reportedly invite him to tag along as a dancer or learn how things are done.

Born on November 4, 1984, Maurice Kirya was born in Jinja and raised in Najjanakumbi with five siblings.