Canaan Gents are undoubtedly the most successful Ugandan a capella vocal band of our generation. The story of the survival of Canaan Gents throughout the years is nothing short of a miracle. They have gone through many transformations, but when we heard that they sung for the King on the 62nd Birthday celebrations of His Majesty the Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, we fully recognized that their resilience had kept them relevant.
It is particularly important to note that, come September 9th, Canaan Gents are set to launch their official website, clearly state their mission for the whole world to know and release a highly anticipated music video for their song Nkwagala which features Benezeri.
Speaking about the writing of the song, Benezeri described it as magical and that he is proud to be associated with the group and the song. Of the song-writing, Benezeri recounts,
“The Long and short of it, borrowing from my verse, I suggested we incorporate ‘Nkwagala’ into the chorus so that we bring the song back home. And in fact we should name the song ‘Nkwagala’ not Shalala. My suggestion was endorsed. We went through it like 20 times not just for practice but because we loved it.”
We have been following the progress of the Canaan Gents, and it was only right that we have a conversation with the team leader and lead vocalist, Samuel Lubwama who has been there throughout all the transitions.
Read it below.
Since 2011 – when Canaan Gents was formed, there has been a visible transformation in the composition of the band, explain that, and how the new experience has been for you who has seen it all?
Canaan Gents was founded on 30th November 2011 at Uganda Christian university mukono. A lot of faces have come and gone and as a vision bearer it teaches me a lot. That is, to to always remain focused, resilient and keep the main thing the main thing. The experience has been wonderful. I have gotten an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and I must say it’s been a blessing learning and singing with them and them also learning from me.
Talking of transformation, and in this case, a transition, those of us who have eagle-eyes can tell, your focus is an Africa-wide stage, and later, worldwide stage. Is our observation correct, and if so, what steps have you taken towards this so far?
Very true, Africa and worldwide stages.
The steps we have taken to start with is to work on our craft. By craft I mean music. The second is doing original content, because it’s the original songs that will give you millage as opposed to Covers.
Thirdly, registering of our brand as a company and having a team of professionals to handle the business wing of the group.
Keeping the main thing the main thing… By this I mean keeping our vision and mission in mind and make it a point that it doesn’t get blurry.Does Canaan Gents write their own music?
Yes..Canaan Gents has 3 lyricists that’s Ssentongo Charles, Catherine Mirembe who happens to be our music director and me Samuel Lubwama.
We have targets thats to say the number of songs each has to write in a year. So I can boldly say we have a good music bank at the moment.
Let’s talk about the fact that Canaan Gents wrote a song for the Kabaka Of Buganda and sung at his birthday? Tell us about the writing of this song and why you took this direction
The song Omutanda was written by Ssentongo Charles and he did this in 2014. He even asked when we shall ever sing for His Majesty the Kabaka of Buganda. Fast forward, we got a call from Bulange mengo asking us to be part of the 62nd birthday celebrations of the Kabaka. It was such an honor and a blessing that the scriptures got fulfilled that a mans gift will get him to seat with kings and Princes.
Where do you record your music from?
We record with Blacksmith studio with producer Sam Brisas. He’s one gentleman who has given us an ear and helps us at times in making good music.
Tell us about the birthday celebration itself, how was it? How did you feel as a group?
The birthday celebrations had very many dignitaries and I must say we had a good time there.
“A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” [Proverbs 18:16]. Well, this time we were before a King, His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi the 2nd. It is in such moments that we’re reminded that it is truly not by might, or power, but by the Spirit of the Lord that we have received such favor. On Thursday 13th April 2017, we were extremely honored to add a smile to the face of the Kabaka on his birthday, and to the faces of the main dignitaries in attendance such as H.E. The Vice President of Uganda Edward Ssekandi, KCCA ED Jennifer Musisi, Mr. Godfrey Kirumira, Prince David Wasajja, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba and the Katikiro of Buganda Charles Peter Mayiga. etc etc. The Lord has been good to the Kabaka and we wish him and his beautiful Queen Mama Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda a long and prosperous reign. We are grateful to have been able to share our gift before these great men and all we can say is Ebenezer! Greater things are yet to come!
What do you think is the relevance of the song Omutanda, beyond singing it at the king’s birthday?
Omutanda’ expresses love for our unique heritage and culture because it’s what God gave us (Africans) as a gift that differentiates us from any other races across the world. We try to encourage the youth to be proud of their heritage, botanical names and respect other peoples cultural backgrounds since the youth are commonly known for shying away from culture related issues. In this song, we celebrate the king (Kabaka) of Buganda who is sovereign to one of the biggest ethnic groups in Uganda.
The song debuted on the 62nd Birthday celebrations of His Majesty the Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II
Many things have happened since our last interaction. For example, Power Fm Presents, and you have won many awards and been nominated at international awards, how does this make you feel?
Wooow…its really a humbling experience.. Looking at where we started from..6 years ago, and you begin to bag accolades like that, All I can say is Ebenezer.
We won Best a cappella group in this (2017) year’s HiPipo Awards and in VIGA music awards we won Best a capella group( winning it for the 3rd year consecutively) and Video of the year.
This year we’re also nominated in the Prayze Factor awards in the A cappella category. We have made it to the final 4. It will take place in Atlanta Georgia (USA) on the 14th-16th of September.
Congratulations for the wins and nominations. Now, it has come to our attention that you are set to release a music video for Nkwagala. First of all, tell us, what’s the message of the song and who is the intended audience?
Nkwagala is a love song, the video shows the different ways people fall in love. Well love has no limits. So there are different ways we all fall in love and that’s what we show in this video.
This is an unfair question, because the rest of the members are not here. Still, we’ll ask, who was the most camera unfriendly person during this video shoot?
Hahahaha, I can’t remember quite well but everyone did their best to have a good video.
That’s a very political answer, but moving on swiftly, what should we expect during the concert?
A lot of great performances from featured artists and Canaan Gents. We also have a website launch and this is a big deal for us. And when it comes to the video… The storyline of the video, costumes and great videography from the team that shot the video.
So, why don’t you leak the secret domain name to us right now? We would love to have been the first to know. Yes?
Hahahaha, well it shall remain a secret and on that day y’all will have a glance at it.
It’s okay. So, after the video and website launch, what should we expect from Canaan Gents?
A lot of original content coming your way.
We plan to have an album come through and also a Canaan Gents concert.
To the aspiring or struggling a capella groups, what would be your message to them? What’s your secret to staying at the cutting edge and competing in a country that is so used to ‘loud’ music and ‘heavy’ beats?
Don’t do something because someone else is doing it
- God first
Have a vision and mission.
Find that one thing that makes you standout and perfect it.
Do you have any final words for our readers?
Yes…I humbly ask the readers to make it a point and come for the Nkwagala Video premiere. It’s gonna be big, its gonna be Epic and its gonna be love.
Where to find us.. You can check us out on Social media platforms ie Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, for music SoundCloud and ITunes and YouTube for videos.
We love you and God bless.