Med Mushaijamukuru Kimbugwe
Choosing to capture the career of an acclaimed Super Diva the calibre of Juliana Kanyomozi would require me to write until the cows come home; yet I must tame my itchy fingers and type only the most important aspects, lest we end up with the longest article in my entire writing career! That's the kind of quandary at the heart of which I stand; but a quandary I find worthwhile!
At a time when many would expect her to be fading or to have long fizzled out, Juliana looks like she just kicked off. In here, we step into her music journey and try to understand what has made her, probably the most time tested Diva Uganda has ever had! By the end of it all, you'll have discovered that much as she's overly gifted, it hasn't been a bed of roses! Just like any other musician, she has had to overcome humongous challenges; and unlike most musicians, she has turned out equal to and sometimes greater than her challenges.
Her ability to look challenges in the eye and come out on top of them, coupled with a lot more aspects we are going to explore, has turned Juliana Kanyomozi into a Super Diva with durability! By the last sentence, you'll have discovered that her journey to the top has actually been a deliberate effort of blazing trails and refreshing herself from time to time in order to remain relevant. It has been a journey of proper packaging, an X factor, tenacity, “Scarcity" and unpredictability!
Juliana's professional career can be traced back to the late 1990s when she teamed up with Iryn Namubiru under I-Jay. She immediately set herself apart as exceptional, with their Vive la Vie hit stretching airwaves in Uganda. She took her prowess into a Solo Career with songs like Niwewe and Don't wanna cry! At this point, her vocal aptness was evident but so was one of her earliest challenges.
It was clear that if Juliana wanted to earn a mark in the Ugandan music industry, she had to spread out and appeal to a broader audience. If you remember songs like Say It and Seven Days, you'll agree that they were all awesome songs, but they were not enough to take Juliana to another level. She sure needed more than just her English audience and to spread her appeal across the board.
Juliana then collaborated with Bobi Wine in two pivotal songs; Taata Wa Baana Yaani? and Maama Mbiire. These songs helped Juliana reach out to the non-English audience and also showed what an amazing eye Juliana had for collabos; a factor that has remained instrumental in her career. Juliana doesn't just do collabos! She knows exactly how to select artists to collaborate with and all her collaboration projects have been exceptional.
A quick look at such collaborations as Sirinaayo Mulala (with Sweet Kid), All I Wanna Know (with Klear Kut) and Usiende Mbali (with Bushoke) and you'll realise that Juliana has awesome taste when it comes to selecting her collaboration artists. You can also add to her list of amazing collaborations, Haturudi nyuma (feat Kidum), Love you better (Feat Jay Ghartey) and the skin peeling and goose pimp creating Something of My Life, alongside Ganda Boys.
Soon as she ably spread out to a spectrum of fans, Juliana started to release hit after hit and some of the most amazing songs over the years include Olibeera Nange, Give it to me, Eddiba, Ndibulungi, Nakazzade, Nseyeya, Libe Essanyu, Omutima Oguluma, Sanyu Lyange, Kantambule Naawe, Gutuke, I am Ugandan, Enkwanzi Yange, Malaika wange, Kanyimbe, Kibaluma, Nkyanoonya, Diana, Mundeke, Wesigame Kunze, Tobanakutya, Mukuume, Njagala ondage Omukwano, Nkulinze, Nabikoowa and Alive Again among so many others.
Her music has over the years attracted acclaim and recognition, making Juliana probably the most decorated and awarded female musician in the history of Ugandan music. She has swept local, regional, continental and global accolades on her journey to the very top and this doesn't come as a surprise, for a diva that is as hardworking as she is talented. Besides her talent, we look at a number of things that have taken Juliana to the top and kept her there.
Juliana has branded herself as a whole package, efficient at music and more. Right from her job as a radio show host to being a judge at the Tusker Project Fame, Juliana has always been a whole package. It is no wonder that in March 2014, she became the Brand Ambassador of Oriflame and that she currently is one the 7 Champions (Uganda) of the #Midwives4All Swedish Campaign.
Juliana's scarcity has also helped retain her value. You will not find Juliana performing at your neighborhood bar or at every wedding you attend. This explains exactly why she was the first Ugandan artist to dare hold a concert at The Kampala Serena at a flat rate of 100,000 Uganda shillings and went ahead to have a full house. That is the power of scarcity and unpredictability!
It is therefore evident that Juliana has not got to the top and stayed there by accident. Aside from her talent, she has made a deliberate effort at setting herself apart, resisted following the bandwagon, stuck to her style and values and overcome challenges along the way.
Even after writing all this, it still feels like there's so much about Juliana that I haven't written; things like her public image impeccable media relations skills. Yet at this point, I must lay to rest the grace in my fingers and wind up!
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