This royal lady of Toro rose to fame in the 90s, starting out as a karaoke singer. Today, this diva is arguably Uganda’s best female artiste, writes Connie Nankya.
In 2008, she made history as the first female to win the Pam Awards Artiste of the Year accolade. She is the soft spoken judge, full of smiles and kind remarks to the contestants on the popular Tusker Project Fame (TPF) show. She is a musician with adorable vocals and mother to an eight-year-old son, Keron Raphael Kabugo. Her name is Juliana Kanyomozi.
She is a first cousin to King Oyo of the Toro Kingdom in Uganda, a fact that many people do not know. Kanyomozi’s father and King Oyo’s father were biological brothers, which makes her a princess of Toro Kingdom.
“I come from a family of six children and was born in Toro, Fort Portal, western Uganda. I went to City Primary School (Arya Primary School at the moment), then Bugema Secondary School for O’ level and Namasagali College School and Aga Khan Secondary School for A’ level. I am fun loving, I like being around people and of course singing, which I have done for close to 10 years now,” she says.
For a lady who has been singing for the past 10 years, one wonders if she does anything other than music and whether the intense competition that has faced over the years gives her cold feet and makes her envious at some point.
“I am slowly getting into the real estate business and in due time, I believe I shall get there. About the competition (laughs), I don’t look at it as a threat. I mean, the world would be so boring without competition. In fact, I get excited by fresh talent, especially the females, because it gives the industry different genres of music to listen to. It does not mean that if new talent comes up, I will lose my fan base, no! I am happy and respect everyone who embraces the industry.”
Questions have come up about her inconsistency and why she outs an album and takes a while to release another song. Kanyomozi explains that she needs to give her fans time to enjoy and appreciate her music, which might be hard if they are fed with so much at a go.
Her role as judge on TPF evoked mixed reactions from the public. While some thought she was well suited for the position, others wondered if other than singing, she had any other qualification that made her eligible enough for the role.
Of all the negative and positive comments, Kanyomozi says, “In the first season, I had a lot of negativity around me but I never at any point took it seriously because everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Some only knew me as a singer, so this had to grow on them, but I have been able to prove myself with God’s blessings.”
One then wonders what the whole experience was like, especially with the recently concluded season. Did she have any favourites and why was she soft spoken all the time? Do the judges plan who has to be harsh and kind?
“It was a beautiful experience that availed me with the opportunity to meet a lot of people, widen my fan base and have the chance to guide talented people to the right path. I neither had favorites, nor did the judges plan on who had to say what, or comment in a particular way. In fact, we never knew what the contestants were going to sing and perform because the comments had to come naturally. I would try as hard to put myself in the contestants’ shoes and even when one made an annoying mistake, I tried to comment softly, in a sensitive way, because my aim was to guide them to the right path, not put them down.”
The single mother of one has been linked to a number of men including Bobi Wine and US-based Ugandan boxer Kassim “The Dream” Ouma and although she consents to being in a relationship right now, she confirms that marriage is still a pending plan.
“It is most women’s wish to walk down the aisle and I believe I will someday, when the time is right. I have career demands but I acknowledge that there is a time for everything. Does she ever get stalked or imagine that some men are intimidated by her success, beauty and the limelight? “Yes, I get stalked, which is scary sometimes because I have experienced a few violent attacks at Kisementi in Kamwokya for example, though I had him arrested. As for intimidating men; it happens and sometimes I wish I could just throw away the Juliana in the limelight and keep the one who loves people, enjoys her ‘me time’ and stays at home, you know?”
Juliana, who has had a couple of interesting collabos with Bushoke, Kidum and Vamposs among others, says she never plans any of this but when she meets and connects with any talented artiste, they are bound to come up with a plan. She also is quite ambitious and ready to go international, especially since her primary goal of targeting people at home has been accomplished so far. As far as style goes, Kanyomozi loves to try out anything from formal to informal styles, as long as they are sexy and classy. And in case you are wondering if she is the extravagant type, she says she’s not that bad when it comes to savings although once in a while, she spends on items like clothes, bags, shoes and hair when in the mood of spoiling herself. Her concluding advice to the young generation out there is, “Stay focused and know what you want. Never let any negative energy put you down. As long as you know what you want, mark it as the beginning of getting to the top.”