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Tamba: Blending African Styles


Mention the name “Tamba”, and people from the western part of Uganda will think of its literal translation of “healing”. However, this time around, we are talking of a young lady many have come to refer to as, ‘the girl with the deep, rich voice’.  Such a summation does little justice to this young woman who is also strikingly beautiful, light hearted, enthusiastic, energetic and highly talented, and let’s not forget that infectious smile.

Born Mutamba Sarah, Tamba is a Ugandan musician who sings contemporary African music. She explains in her own words, “My music is a blend of ethnic and contemporary music and I always strive to highlight social and cultural issues”.

She chose the name Tamba in an effort to be more Pan-African rather than be associated with only one country, not to mention being tied down to a tribe.

“The name Tamba is a more inclusive word as it’s a verb you can find in many different languages in Africa. In Swahili it means walk/strut, and in Kirundi it means dance”. It’s also my name, Mutamba cut short,” She explains.

She embarked on a full time career in music, with Myko Ouma as her guitarist in late 2006 when she quit her day job at Shell Uganda. “It was just guitar and voice. I would sing at weddings, corporate events and birthdays, and this was enabled through the few contacts I had and people who knew me from church” she says.

Tamba goes on to note it was not easy back then since she did not have any form of publicity by way of popular media such as TV, radio. Not even a Facebook or Twitter page had her name on it.

In 2008 around July she joined Qwela band as a vocalist. She saw that Qwela had the same vision as she did. Qwela was performing music that was a mix of both contemporary and ethnic, and they upheld similar ideologies of taking music back to the grassroots.

Tamba broke away from Qwela in November 2010 venturing into her own career as a solo artist again after she felt that her career, plans, and music differed from where Qwela was headed at the time.

On the challenges of being a solo artist in Uganda she explains that it is a bit of a risk and very challenging but she realized that in life you only live once and thus decided to take the chance. She contends that it was and is still tough but has opened her mind to new challenges and uncertainties that lay ahead of her as an artist and how to deal with them.

Currently Tamba has her own band with a fully-fledged management crew and has managed to record five songs. She has also increased her fan base and is planning to hit the studio this year to record an album, which she hopes to release sometime next year.

On people she admires, Bob Marley tops the list due to his desire to use music as a tool to promote an ideology. She says he (Bob Marley) created a movement through his music by singing what he believed in.

“Thus my big break would be when I can influence people who know me, understand that am not just an artist, but a singer with a special message,” she says.

She appreciates Irene Ntale, her fellow Ugandan soul/ contemporary artist and adores her voice and ability to play guitar; on the international scene, she is inspired by Lauryn Hill’s vocal ability.

She advises young aspiring artists to stay in school, graduate or at least get a certain level of education/qualification. She urges them not to compromise their education with hope of getting educated in the theory of music.

In her own words, “Music is the one place where I feel like am being totally me and not struggling or competing as compared to the corporate world where people are encouraged to compete against each other. With music, every musician is exceptional and brings a unique sound that cannot be replaced or replicated”.

Tamba performs at the Sheraton hotel, Lions bar every first Thursday of the month.  Her concert normally last two hours (8-10pm) and costs 10,000 UGX. She doesn’t perform new compositions at each concert, as she believes she needs to allow the songs to grow on her audience and fans such that they learn the songs and sing along to her music.

Keep up with Tamba and her music on the following links and contacts;
Sound cloud: http://soundcloud.com/tambamusic
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tambafanpage
Twitter: @tambamusic
Mobile: +256 (0) 752 70 11 09
E-mail: tambamusic@gmail.com

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