Where were you born?
I was born and raised in Kampala so I am typically a city girl.
How did you get into music?
First of all, I do not come from a musical family but I can comfortably say there was music in my soul and I had an ear for music at an early age. At the age of about 11, I picked so much interest in choral music that I joined a choir in which I was the youngest member. Somewhere along the way I stopped singing and throughout my primary and secondary education, I was acting. Though I had stopped singing, I loved music and knew all the popular songs playing on radio then which were mostly from South Africa and the western world.
What happened to your acting career? Do you still act? Any memorable act you played?
I still do act when I have he time and opportunity. I have been acting in a local radio dramma called Rock Point 256 for over 3 year, I acted in a new movie called “fishing the stone” which premeires at Theatre Labonita on December 23, 2009.
Have you ever been a member of a band or have you always been a solo musician?
After secondary school, I was invited to join the Sharing Youth as a dancer and shortly after that as a vocalist. Since then, I have performed with several bands like Light Rays Band, Big 5 Band, Percussion Discussion Africa group, Misty Jazz Band, Soul Beat Africa Band and Afrigo Band. Now, I am a solo artist but I continue to work with different musicians and bands.
The last band you performed with was Afrigo; why did you go solo instead of performing in bands?
I needed to take my career to another level a little faster. Good thing is I always work with musicians in my concerts.
When did you get into music?
It was at about 12 years with a choir and we put up a Christmas carol service at St Balikudembe Church in Kisenyi, Kampala. Since I was youngest singer in that choir, I attracted lots of attention from the audience.
How many music albums do you have?
I have released several albums as a solo artist and with others.They include Katitira (2006); Traditional music from Uganda vol 1 (2006); and Traditional music of Bantu women and folktale of the bagandaÂ women from Uganda vol 1 (2006); Train (2007); And the Beat Goes video (2008); and My journey so far video (2008)
I have several projects lined up for release: Traditional music from Uganda vol 2 (2009); Traditional music of Bantu women and folktale of the baganda women from Uganda vol 2 (2009); and another yet-to-be-titled album to be released in early 2010.
Train is the title track of my latest album. It is in a Bakisimba rhythm yet the singing is in both English and Luganda. As you may realize, I employed both traditional and modern instruments, e.g. embutu, ensasi, engalabi, bass guitar,rhythm guitar, and flute. This song speaks for me a lot. It brings out my whole mission as an artist. First of all, I am very proud to be Ugandan. I am proud of my Ugandan cultural heritage and I want to let the whole world know about it.
That is why I call myself a “train” and I sing that, “To every city I will go…Every village, I will reach. They must hear the rhythms my people have sung to, are singing and will sing to… I am a train, my peoples’ train, full of songs, my people sing, full of rhythm, my people play.”
What is a ‘a Bakisimba rhythm’?
This is a royal rhythm of the Baganda of Buganda Kingdom in he centre of Uganda. It is to accompany a very interesting and special dance which is called Bakisimba dance. It has a very interesting origin story but these and more I only share in workshops.
The video, ‘My Journey So Far’, is 75 minutes long. I have always treasured the people I have met along my music journey so far, the ones that have made me what I am directly or indirectly. I could never pay them enough for their support. That is why I decided to take my fans behind the scenes, just a bit, to show them some of these special people. So, in this DVD, I talk about them and actually one gets to see their faces.
When you watch this DVD, you get to know me better and sort of imagine where I am going. It includes things like, the schools I have attended, the bands I have worked with, some of my live performance moments, a bit about my family, etc. Then on this DVD, you get to see all my seven music videos. You do not only see them but you get to know about their making, who was involved, how and why the story was developed, location, really like a behind the scenes info.
What kind of themes or subjects do you tackle?
I always refer to myself as “a train”, full of songs and rhythms of my people. I have interacted deeply with my community hence composing and singing songs about Love, Family responsibilities, Aids, Unity, work, Women’s and Children’s rights, Friendship and Human nature among others. This is what I am taking to every city and village.
Are you a full time musician or do you do anything else?
I am involved in music full time as a performer and workshop leader. I can really say that music is my employer.
Please say something about the family you were born into.
I am born to a Muganda father, Mr Kibuuka Zechariah (RIP) and a Munyankore Mother, Edith Bonabana. I am the third of the five children. I grew up with two brothers and two sisters. We were raised by a single mother and we lived in different places depending on her financial situation but we all went to school no matter what. I didn’t have a lot of things but did not complain much for I always knew that my mother loved us and would always try her best. We always went to church every Sunday and prayer was very important in our family. Actually I always prayed whenever I was in need and I still do. I would pray that God gives my mum money so I could get a new dress, go for a school trip, eat chocolates and those kinds of things.
Generally, I was a patient kid and what other kids had that my mother would afford didn’t bother me. I knew that the key to everything was school.
I went to Kampala Primary School, Sir Tito Winyi Secondary School and Vision Institute of Public Relations and Management. Throughout my school, I was involved in drama. I didn’t know I could sing until I joined Sharing Youth Band as a dancer and shortly after did a cover for a song called Jabulani by PJ Powers which, according to my friends, I did very well. Since then, I have never looked back. I have written so many songs and learnt and fused many traditional ones.
How do family ties complement or work against music career for women?
It is not easy to be away from the ones you love especially kids, even just for a week. But what to do, On the road, you will often think about them and miss them. If you are tied.
From what you know now, would you recommend your music career to any one else; men, women?
My journey has not been a very smooth one but today when I look back at my journey so far, I can comfortably say that I represent possibility. I have come this far by being persistent, focused and not afraid to take risks, God being my pillar. If anyone wants to join the artistry especially my genre, these ideals may be able to help you through. With that, yes I can recommend to anyone, man or woman to join the industry.
Do you compose, write, perform, record, promote and distribute your own music? Or do you have a producer, distributor, marketer/promoter?
I do write most of my songs but have also co-written some of the songs that I perform and have recorded. Also on my repertoire are many traditional songs that I have fused.
I do promote my music on youtube, myspace, facebook, sonicbids, and sarahndagire.com.
My producers to date are Jude Mugerwa Lukwago and Kaz Kasozi. My distributor in Uganda is xzone and others include cdbaby, itunes, amazon, and sarahndagire.com.
Do you executive-produce your own music or do you have a producer, i.e. a person who pays for the work?
I have a music producer but when it comes to paying for the recording of themusic and videos, I do it most of the time. I have also recieved some support from ugarts and Zikosa picture through my music producer Kaz Kasozi.
Say something about those two women you perform with: who are they? How did you meet? Is this a standing group?
I have been blessed by having a company of good friends. Sandra Namiti and Jacinta Wamboka have been great to me in my music journey so far. They have featured in most of my music video as well as being on stage with me for many of my concerts. We were together in several bands like Splash band and Afrigo band before I went solo. They are great friends of mine.
Also very notable at my performances and becoming more and more obvious in many of my videos fashion. The designer responsible for my costumes is Atal Stella. A very wonderful young lady. She knows what is perfect for me on and even most times off stage. She also happens to be my great fan. Whenever she is exhibiting her clothes and products, it is my music that plays. What an honor! I met her so many years ago when I was still working with a Youth Alive club in Kamwokya. Then, she was an ordinary girl and I hadn’t yet started performing on stage. When we met again last year at an art exhibition at Alliance Francaise, we were all grown and had taken professions that could work together. When she listened to my music, she was very impressed and when I visited her fashion studio in Kamwokya, I was amazed and since then, she has taken care of my performance wardrobe including my band. Actually she is a great painter, does interior designing, events decoration and so much more as long as it requires an artistic hand. I personally have painted pots, table cloths, cushions and wall hangings by her.
It is about four years now since you went solo; have you won any awards?
I have not won any awards in but internationally I was nominated this year for the “just plain folks awards” in Nashville, Tennessee. My first album “Katitira” was nominated in the category of best African album and the song “olikoma eyo” in the category of best African song and came out fourth. See jpfolks.com/09songwinners.html
Do you represent any social causes?
I do care much about disadvantaged older persons or jjajas, widows and orphans, they live with, in Uganda. As such, I support an organization called Gaita kukibi widows and elderly network whose mission is to work for the improved quality of life and preservation of dignity of older persons, widows and orphans in Uganda. Over the years I have been involved in their activities, I have learnt I have learnt a lot about the issues affecting them. For example, HIV/AIDS epidemic has had devastating economic, social, health and psychological impacts on older women and men, widows and their orphans. Sons and daughters have passed on leaving the care of their children in the hands of their mothers thus grandmothers. Such grandmothers do not have the means to provide for such children let alone meet the cost of their medication. Due to increasing poverty, the nutrition levels among HIV/AIDS infected families are falling, that lack of good nutrition is contributing to increased mortality in such families. The grandmothers have hope that they can raise up these orphans relatively decently but they do not have the economic means with which to support these families.
I am involved in advocacy and mobilizing economic and social activities aimed at enhancing the welfare of such widows, elderly and orphans in Uganda. See gaitauganda.org
Give us the Sarah Ndagire Story or your profile “the one you present on video” again.
Sarah Ndagire is a performing artist born and raised in Uganda, the pearl and heart of Africa. Sarah is actively participating in the field of “African music, dance and culture.” She has her own story to tell about her experiences.
Sarah says her music style is mainly a fusion of traditional music, instruments and beats interspersed with modern styles, instruments, beats and arrangements. The traditional instruments akogo, endingidi, engalabi and embutu always feature in her songs. It can be described as a truly Ugandan sound. With “pearl ensemble”, she performs traditional music and dances of Uganda.
Watching the energetic Sarah Ndagire perform and listening to her sing is like taking the most relaxing trip across Uganda. She brings out the true soul of an African. The Joy, Sorrow, pain, determination intelligence and perseverance. She has built an impressive repertoire made up of the most rare, unique and varied Ugandan rhythms and instruments that hitherto were played in isolation by different tribal musicians. Her music and videos are famous on many local and international radio stations, TV’s, stages and internet sites like youtube, itunes, cdbaby, etc This earned her a nomination in the “just plain folks awards” 2009.
Sarah is one of the few outstanding performers in Uganda who speak and sing in quite a number of folk languages from Uganda. This enables her to share her talent with many tribes, communities and societies as well as represent Uganda’s wide variety of cultural heritage.
On the other hand, Sarah has for a long time worked with children and older persons to gather and share knowledge through oral Education. She is actively involved in traditional folklore of singing traditional music and story telling. She tells traditional stories and Legends which is another way through which she promotes African culture to all parts of the world.
Where have you performed so far in 2009?
– Uganda national cultural center
– Bayimba international festival Kampala
– World music day Kampala
– Alliance francaise Kampala/ Goethe zentrum
– Hapo zamani show at catch the sun Kampala
– Fundraising concert for Children with cancer at Serena, Kampala
– Kultur fabrik centre Luxembourg
– Afrika kulturtage Forcheim festival Germany
– Peace Concert at SGI-USA in Chicago
– “Just Plan Folks” JPF Awards ceremony at Wild Horse Saloon, Nashville, TN.
– Commonwealth club London
– Crockham hill village hall, England
– Chogm Trinidad and Tobago