Orphaned and homeless, Eddy Kenzo used to struggle to persuade DJs to play his songs, but Uganda's first Grammy contender said his success offers hope that even the poorest person can triumph.
Nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Global Music Performance, Kenzo -- whose real name is Edrisah Musuuza – has but one goal, broadcast his culture to the world.
"I try to use my culture and what I know to sell to the world. I sell the language that I speak, I sell the music we do here locally and I modernize it and put out the sound that comes from where I come from and it goes global," explained the Grammy nominee to AFP.
Despite growing up underprivileged, Kenzo pursued his dreams and made a name for himself with hit single "Stamina", which grew to dominate airwaves.
His global profile rose with the release in 2014 of "Sitya Loss" a peppy number trumpeting the power of resilience.
"Being nominated in Grammy, when I don’t do English, when I don’t try to do that kind of music that is done there and here and be recognized in my own way it’s like crazy. It’s so so so crazy I can’t even express how I feel."
Thirteen years after his big break, Kenzo is en route to take home a Grammy for "Gimme Love", his 2022 Luganda-English song featuring US musician Matt B.
"I love who I am, I love promoting who I am. I had to let him do what he does, but I had to make sure that I bring in myself in my own way. I started doing my Luganda and I taught him some of the pass, I told him to do it. And then this is what we did. And the message “Gimme Love” it’s all about giving love. I just looked of the story of him and his kids coming to pursue the… to push whatever they wanted to push to make their life better and love was the only way. Nothing could be better than that," says Kenzo.
Despite his meteoric rise, the father of two hasn't forgotten his humble beginnings and is keen to pave the way for others like him.
Through his label Big Talent Entertainment, he mentors Kampala’s disadvantaged youth to develop their musical talent.