On a warm afternoon, our writer met with Musician Johnmarie of the Nsiima fame to listen to his life story. It was at Ntinda. What we gathered is that preparations for his June 11th 2017 concert is in full gear. During our interview, he intermittently took a few minutes to catch-up with his event manager. Of course, we had to eavesdrop on the conversation. The music event will be supported by other Uganda Gospel musicians. Our interest, however, was the untold Johnmarie story and why he is organizing a music concert introduced to the general public as a charity event.
According to him, he started out as a musician in 2005. Before that time, he had been a member of the University Christian Fellowship (U.C.F) choir which he joined in 2010. The young singer told us that, he was also a part of the Country Lights, a popular dance crew from U.C.F. He was with the latter group from 2009 until 2013.
Shocked at this revelation, we asked why he had been a part of the dance crew. He said, “I loved dancing too. Everything to do with MDD.” The musician who scooped two VIGA Awards for Afro-beat song of the year, Nsiima and Upcoming Male Artiste of the year told us that he went to Makerere West Valley for Primary, then St Elizabeth Nkowe for O-Level and later joined Caltec Academy Makerere for A-Level. He graduated from Makerere University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
Given that he was born into a family of twelve children with eight boys and four girls, it was not a smooth sail through childhood. In fact, in 2002, he joined Bulamu Children’s Village with a few members of his family who received sponsorship to enable him continue with education. As sure as all things work together for good, this allowed him learn to play drums, keyboard, the bass and acoustic guitars which skills would later help him in life.
The biggest discovery made during the interview was the fact that John Marie Ssengendo aka Johnmarie worked at Radio Sapientia and has been a producer since 2008. Among many things, he produced radio adverts including a famous Hima Cement advert, edited reported news, and radio programs.
In 2010, he started commercial music production while at Makerere University. He transformed the room his father had given him at home into a studio for the making of tracks that would be voiced at Silver Kyagulanyi’s Skia Studio. Around this time, he met Larry Charry the musician who was featured in the Nsiima masterpiece. Larry was a member of the once popular mainstream group Big Time which also had Ray Signature, a popular songwriter. Big Time was disbanded and the duo each pursued a solo music career.
That aside, Johnmarie formed Nyimba band in 2014, it was active for two years before going completely silent. He has also produced music for JK Shine, and Jamal, among others. His album titled Newunya is ready for distribution and will be available at his “Nsiima Charit” concert. He also recently released Gwaake, a rock song. Upon expressing our shock at the genre, he said, “I love rock music. We sing a lot of rock music at church.”
About the ‘Nsiima Charity Concert,’ he said he desires that people come together to celebrate, and be grateful for who God has made them to be, and what He has allowed them achieve.
National Theatre is the place to be on June the 11th.
It has been christened a charity concert because, the proceeds will go towards his little sister , Zawedde Josephine’s treatment. The little girl has a medical condition many know as ‘the hole in the heart.’ The longer she takes to get treatment, the more fatal the condition becomes. When you come for the concert, you will definitely be joining Johnmarie and friends in celebrating God’s goodness, but better still, you will be supporting a great cause.
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