Old African Music

Charles & Frida Sonko with Orch. Melo Success – Nawuliranga (1968)

From  “THE KAMPALA SOUND – 1960s UGANDAN DANCE MUSIC” (Original Music, 1988)

A lovely sampler of some rare and half-forgotten pop from mid-’60s Uganda. A poor nation, Uganda’s music industry was modest, particularly in regards to its recording facilities, which were nonexistent. Thus, most Ugandan musicians traveled to Nairobi to record, and there they were usually backed by local studio bands, who played in the Kenyan pop style. Later, the influence of Congolese guitar pop became more pronounced, and the stylistic debt is equally obvious. What makes these songs distinctive, however, is the soft, restrained vocal style, presumably an outgrowth of the Luganda language, featured on all of these tracks. Ugandan politics fell apart not long after these records were made, as did the social space that made pop music possible, and the artists featured here — Freddie Kigozi, Fred Masagazi, Charles and Frida Sonko, Billy Mbowa and others — fell into obscurity, although their music is preserved here. Good thing, too — this is a sweet little record.

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