By Bamuturaki Musinguzi
Published October 12, 2012
The Zimbabwean female bass sensation Edith Katiji and her Edith We Utonga (Edith and the Dawn) band put up a spectacular and thrilling performance of traditional rhythms fused with modern musical instruments at the Sheraton Kampala Lion Sports Bar on September 7, 2012.
Katiji, who was seven months pregnant, used her first ever performance in Uganda to share her musical talent with her fans in Kampala. She proved her energy with fabulous strumming of her bass guitar on stage and occasionally joined her fans on the dance floor. Some fans had initially thought she would not put up a memorable show because of the state in which she was.
As the lead singer and band leader, Edith Katiji has developed a very personal and contagious “world music” sound with her band. Not only composing but also singing and playing the base guitar, her presence on stage is that of a strong woman with deep African roots. Her music is influenced by Jiti, Chimurenga, and traditional folk music of Zimbabwe and southern Africa.
The show consisted of infectious, varied, diverse and multi-cultural beats coming from both the debut and forthcoming albums of the band.
They played “Stone Child, ” Chipo,” ” Chipendani,” “Hutungamiri,” “Agodoka,” and “Mukaranga” off their 2010 album, “Utonga”
“Mukaranga”, the crowd’s favourite, celebrates today’s woman who cares for her family without waiting for the husband’s hand; when she asks for the man’s contribution it is not out of duty but respect as the head of the family.
Off their forthcoming album titled “Kwacha”, the band performed “Hautengwe,” “Royera Kure,” “Mashoko,” “Khonkotha,” “Ndireke” and “Hurombo.” They expect to release “Kwacha” at the end of 2012.
The band was made up of Givemore Gawaga (keyboard and vocals), Ishe Jere (keyboard and vocals), Aaron Kambilinga (drums and vocals) and Hudson Simbarashe (guitar and vocals).
Edith We Utonga was supported by two Ugandan artists, Myko Ouma and Sarah Tshila.
While Ouma on guitar played “1 day” and “Finally” off his debut self-titled album and “Smile” off his forthcoming album, Tshila performed “Beera Nange” and the poem “Sipping from the Nile”, off her debut album . She also played “Ngawaatisile” off her forthcoming album.
Edith We Utonga also performed a free concert at the Tilapia Cultural Centre on Ggaba Road in Kampala on September 8, 2012.
The two Edith We Utonga shows were organised by Goethe-Zentrum Kampala, AJ Promotions Limited and Tilapia Cultural Centre.
“This is my first time in East Africa. And I like the warmth in Uganda because I am almost feeling at home here; the only difference is that my children are not with me here,” Katiji told ArtMatters.Info after the concert at the Sheraton.
Unlike other female musicians in Africa who have been looked down upon by society, Edith Katiji says her parents appreciated her talent and supported her.
“I think I was blessed because my parents were so supportive and understood my passion for music and let me go for it. But I still have people who look down upon us women musicians because we spend a lot of time in bars and pubs with a lot of men around us performing. So they think we are promiscuous and are not marriage material. As I play in a band of five men, one may think there is something wrong with me,” she said.
Katiji says that she has a lot of respect for anyone who plays with a live band “because it takes commitment, patience, endurance and being able to share one’s musical talent with artists who have the same vision.”
“I am inspired by situations around me whether they have happened personally or I have seen a friend go through it. Things that are happening in my social networks are what inspire me to write the music that I write.”
As to when she intends to stop live performances, Katiji says, “For as long as my God wakes me up in the morning and I am still able to play my guitar and sing I will not stop.”
Katiji’s music career started in 2000 at Amakhosi Township Square in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest town after Harare. She was part of a project called Amakhosikazi which trained women to become band leaders and musicians. Her role was to compose music. She worked with the project until 2006 when she moved to Harare to work as a backing vocalist for a jazz artist. She got her own bass guitar and formed Edith We Utonga band after a tragic car accident in 2009.
Prior to the Kampala concerts the band performed at the Blankets and Wine in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2012. They have also performed at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).