The emphasis here is the quality of the production and the attendance. Nothing is worse that a great production that is poorly attended or a poorly produced show that got numerous people attending but failing to fulfill on many levels. Again, like the Editor’s Pick of top ten contemporary Gospel musicians of 2016, this is an opinion-based post. Of course, if we did not attend an event or have a representative, it might not make it to this list. However, be certain, this is a very exhaustive list because we have been with you throughout the year. We have brought you almost all the live event updates and reviews on our social media platforms.
Undoubtedly, No More Night, a Christmas musical, drama and dance production by Watoto Church is number one. The people at Watoto Church take their Cantata production too seriously. They built a magnificent stage, made great use of stage lighting, impeccable storytelling by the actors and stellar solo performances, duets and from the choir. Every year, they make a deliberate effort to tell the Christmas story differently. Given the popularity of the show, revelers start arriving at least four hours to beat the human traffic as multitudes seek a world-class experience. It was delivered. This is/was the best event of 2016.
In as much as many industry opinion-leaders think we might have had enough of the Zambian Lota House musicians, this did not stop Pompi, Mag 44, Abel Chungu and Crazy Fish Band from putting up one of the most attended events of 2016. Some even thought that Lota house Live was a replacement for Phat Fest which at the time had not been confirmed. It was a night with many memorable moments including the presence of H. E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who lauded his daughter Patience Rwabwogo for making it possible for youth to have clean fun. It was a brilliant production with Pompi having great chemistry with Crazy Fish Band whereas, Mag 44 gave the most energetic performance. Abel Chungu was of course the darling of the show with couples holding each other’s hands while the single brethren and sisters sung Ichitemwiko to invisible ‘bae’.
Amazing Grace Concert by Brian Lubega happened in a very busy month of the year. If there was anything we were certain of, it was the fact that the Wegukubira singer was going to offer an experience that could neither be found anywhere else nor get replicated. With a focus on music that draws people back to the heart of worship, Brian Lubega’s Amazing Grace Concert comes in at number three. It was a well attended music experience that left many yearning for more and more of such productions. Brian Lubega successfully made it possible for many to have a quality production in a local language, a situation that is hard to create for many musicians.
Qwela Christmas Production will be the forth best production of 2016. It is interesting that a lot of the great shows happened in December. Featuring musicians like Solome Basuuta, Sam Kimera, MO Roots, Kenneth Mugabi, Charmant Mushaga among others, the Qwela Band’s popular Qwela Junction succeeded in bring Christmas to Africa with a mix of love music. The vocal play, amazing work on the instrumentation and sync of musicians on stage with carrying emotion makes this a production that’s worth talking about for long. It was a well attended event, but perhaps given slightly more publicity, it would have had a mammoth crowd.
Power Fm Presents Canaan Gents gave us the ‘feels.’ Actually, in all fairness, it gave the ladies the thrills. For music that many do not consider mainstream, the Canaan Gents were unveiled after what was reported as a period of rigorous training and mentorship by a team from Watoto Church and Power Fm. To date, this is one of the best things that happened in the events arena in 2016. Of course it was a great production that was well-attended.
Phat Fest 2016 will come in at number six. Termed ‘the Grand Return’, this year’s Version 2.0 cannot be compared to the previous Phat Fest Events because it was a festival with games and then a concert in the evening. Zabuli, Kris Erroh, D Reign, G Way, Mr Sobre and Majic Mike gave the best performances for the night. As a writer and critic, I feel that perhaps Tio Nasan was overly hyped and that the surprise musician Mag 44 was no surprise at all because he had in fact been in Uganda earlier for Lota House Live. Also, in as much as Holy Keane did a great job wowing the crowd, the musician released only Abooki this year and did not enjoy a lot of airplay like the newbies Zabuli and D Reign. All factors constant, Phat Fest 2016 was a great show with great attendance.
Baroness Prudence, though seen at as the musician who makes an appearance when she has a concert, has a loyal following and her music appeals to many soft-rock music listeners. Her Live Again Concert at Silver Springs was a highly anticipated, well-attended show. About the production, it was all about good music, great instrumentation and sharing our faith in one accord. It brought together many Christians and non-christians alike.
Now Or Never is what Seku Martin named his 2016 concert. The living legend proved that he still has what it takes when he gave a wonderful performance with signature dance moves and acrobatics on stage. During the event he also unveiled a musician he mentored, Don Emma. It took place at Garden City Rooftops and was well attended. The multi-million dollar question is, since he promised to hold another concert in 2017, what is has he been doing ever since the Now Or Never concert? He seems to have gone into oblivion after a lot of publicity and hype due to his concert. Someone pass this question along.
At Number seven, we will place Coopy Bly’s One Last Time concert. Thriving on the curiosity created by the name of the concert, many contemporary gospel music fanatics and fans turned up to watch Coopy Bly do it one last time. A few things could have been better but Coopy Bly and the supporting musicians gave a great performance. Also, we have seen Coopy Bly do better than he did at this particular concert. All in attendance had a great time celebrating with Coopy Bly who would soon be a married man.
Number eight will have to be the HIT Awards 2016 ceremony at Kampala Serena Hotel. The red-carpet affair got many honoring the dress code and showing up to see with their own eyes as top musicians were awarded. It was a good show, but in all honesty, the show failed to give many an experience worth talking about for many days.
Red Sofa Sessions joined the list of great events in 2016 during the second show. The inaugural edition, though we’ll attended, did not match up to the second one held at the same venue, Garden City Rooftops. The ‘Bad Boys/Girls Exposed’ edition attracted a huge crowd, however, a lot of the meat of the event was packed at the end. Next time, there has to be a better flow of events. On concept, the Red Sofa Sessions is like nothing we have seen since it appeals to those who desire to network and enjoy music and coffee by Good African Coffee while at it.
For number ten, your writer cannot decide whether it was Jackie Senyonjo’s concert, Sing Video Premiere or some other event which we did not attend. Anyway, feel free to add some of you own or tell us which ones make it to your top three.