Mwatshy Musenge is a bass guitarist whose musical journey started in his pre-teen years. Even when life deals him a blow, he finds refuge in song
It is said that music is medicine. It is helping singer Mwatshy Musenge cope with some big losses he has recently suffered. In a space of one month, he lost a child when his wife miscarried, lost his mother and as he continues to deal with the psychological wounds and care for his wife, he has music to fall back to.
He is dedicating his energies to making music as recording artiste and producer at Talent Studio- The African Touch. Musenge is a vocalist, songwriter, bass guitarist and music producer with two music albums to his name; ‘Fullness of Joy’, a 10-track gospel album he released at Watoto Church in 2008 and ‘Step two Rafiki’, a 10-track gospel album he released in 2014.
He worked on the latter with Black Smith Studio and Greater Sound Studio. It was mixed and produced by Yohann Clug at 2001 Studio. He donated it to a malaria campaign dubbed Uzima Initiative, an NGO.
The journey of the Congolese-born artiste started at a tender age. “I was introduced to music when I was 10 years old in a church called Sinai Kasheke in DR Congo (South Kivu, Bukavu). I was inspired by my elder brother who was a drummer in the same church. He was the choir director in a Sunday school choir and I picked interest in what he was doing,” he recollects.
When the church bought a first guitar, he started learning the guitar and taught me how to drum. My brother owned a retail shop and when he was not attending to customers, he would teach me how to drum.
During lunch hours, his brother got a tutor who would teach him how to pluck the guitar. In turn, when he learnt, he taught Musenge who was in Primary Four at the time.
After a while, the church bought a second guitar. “The church sent me to Light Music School run by Jerry Kakya, who tutored me in playing the bass guitar. This was during holidays. I would play in church on Sundays since I was not in boarding school. At the age of 16, Kakya recruited me as bass guitarist in his band called Union Band,” Musenge recounts.
Testing the waters
He played with the band for three years as bassist. When Kakya travelled to South Africa, he left Musenge in charge of the band as a leader. He was 19 at the time. After two years, in 2000, Musenge decided to test the waters. He went on a solo tour in East Africa.
“I was looking for a country to settle in. I decided to stay in Uganda in order to improve my English because I had a dream of going international. Through interaction with other musicians, a friend to a worship pastor at Miracle Centre Cathedral connected me to start playing there. That is where I found Isaiah Katumwa. He liked my guitar skills and asked me to start working with him at Miracle Centre Cathedral,” the musician narrates.
Along the way, he was spotted by Abundant Life in Sseguku which offered to teach him English. He enrolled for a nine-month course. An opportunity came knocking. He was invited to Kigali at Restoration Church in Kigali as music director to train the choir there. He never hesitated since it was a chance for him to earn good money.
He was there for two years. In 2002, he returned and given his guitar skills, he was invited to perform at Life Resurrection Centre in Nsambya as a bass guitarist up to 2004 when he was approached by Romeo Akiiki, one of the main singers with Kads Band. He was recruited as a bass guitarist.
“We used to play in Hotel Equatoria and at Blue Africa Restaurant which was located at Crested Towers. We did a campaign song for NRM campaign in 2006. We split after the manager, Willy Kamukama, disappeared with the money,” he further recollects.
He returned to Watoto Church- Central, where he got placement as a bass guitarist and trainer of music. He would also perform at all districts under the leadership of Douglas Stride. He was there until 2011 when he resigned and began looking at growing his music beyond church.
He started his journey by playing with Joel Sebunjo & Sundiata Band as a bass guitarist and vocalist. He was fully taken on when the band was planning an African tour that saw them journey to Morocco at Visa for Music, Zanzibar for Sauti Za Busara, Selam Festival in Addis Ababa, Amani Festival in DRC and Fespad in Kigali.
His solo projects have earned him space at local arts festivals like the Bayimba International Festival of the Arts and beyond borders. He has also featured as a performer at the Fête de la Musique fest held in France.
Musenge is now using music to share proceeds with the less fortunate. He is the musical director for Suubi Fusion Troupe, an ensemble that started at Cambridge Secondary School in Kyengera. It is supported by Dream for Uganda, a charity based in Toronto, Canada.
The young singers, some of them orphans, are currently working on songs that will feature on their first album that will take them to Canada in March 2017.
“It was one of the reasons I left Watoto Church. I wanted to get involved in community work. Children are dear to me because of the stories behind them. Everyone has their story. They are children in need. It is good the world hears their stories. We have so far worked on eight songs which are largely about education as a key to success,” Musenge explains.
He says giving a platform to young people is a dream come true. He has always wanted to use his talent and skills to the benefit of those in need yet are willing to learn and use their creativity to realise their aspirations in life.