Eddy Kenzo, Uganda’s First Grammy Nominee



Eddy Kenzo has no idea when he was born, a quirk of personal history that goes to the heart of how the Ugandan singer sees himself: a humble man who is occasionally concerned about what will happen next.

And yet, Kenzo, the first Ugandan-born singer to receive a Grammy nomination, continues to soar to heights that defy his own and the expectations of his fans and rivals in this east African country where his work is sometimes questioned.

Some Ugandans dismiss his musical style as childish, claiming he’s not much of a singer. Others, however, see in his experimentation the creative potential that distinguishes him as a unique artist.

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For Kenzo, any acknowledgement of his work serves as a reminder of how far he’s come.

“Honestly speaking, I am so overwhelmed. I am so nervous at the same time,” Kenzo said in an interview with The AP, speaking of his nomination. “I thank God that we made it.”


Kenzo’s “Gimme Love,” a collaboration with American singer Matt B that began by chance in Los Angeles, has been nominated for a Grammy for best global music performance.

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Kenzo recalls meeting Matt B and feeling a connection with his own dedication to success, discovering the “Gimme Love” refrain when the American singer brought his family to the recording studio.

“I looked at these kids and I’m like, man, everyone deserves love. You know, these people deserve support and love so their dreams can come true,” he said “That’s why I told him that you know what? Let’s do give me love. Yeah. And then I started that intro, ‘gimme love’.”

Kenzo, real name Edirisa Musuuza, was the first and only Ugandan to win a BET award in 2015 as the viewers’ choice for best new international artiste. The award came after his breakout song “Sitya Loss,” which was accompanied by a video featuring dancing kids whose energetic performance drew the attention of global celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres.

That song was a nod to Kenzo’s own humble beginnings as a barely literate child in a remote part of central Uganda, not knowing where his next meal would come from. According to his own account, Kenzo spent 13 years on the streets after his mother died when he was only four years old. He had no idea who his father was, and he only discovered some of his siblings as an adult.

He aspired to be a soccer player and even won a scholarship to a boarding school based on his talent, but he dropped out and returned to the hustling that he claims made him a man.

He released his first single in 2008 and rose to fame in 2010 with the song “Stamina,” which was praised by politicians, lovers, and others for its celebration of youthful energy. Kenzo is frequently invited to perform all over the world, in addition to winning awards.

Kenzo held a festival in Kampala three days before learning he had been nominated for a Grammy, which was attended by thousands, including Uganda’s prime minister. It was a proud moment for a singer whose music is frequently ignored by local FM stations, which can make or break a song based on DJ decisions.

There’s a sense even for Kenzo that he’s more appreciated abroad than at home.

“My biggest fanbase is outside Uganda, because the world is bigger than Uganda,” he said thoughtfully. “Uganda is just a small country.”



Written by How Africa News

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