Ugandan star opens up about her move into the spotlight, dating and collabo with Frasha

[Photo: Spice Diana/Facebook]

Diana Namukwaya always hoped to one day become a musician. She would attend theatre halls and creative centres to enhance her acting and designing passion, but singing was her first love.

“I had just cleared high school when I released my debut single 'Onsanula' and to my surprise it turned to be an instant hit. No one could understand how such a young girl - unknown in the music scene – could become an overnight star,” she recalls the 2014 release that made her a household name in Uganda before doors opened beyond. The song won her the Breakthrough Artiste of the Year award in Uganda’s biggest annual awards scheme.

Quite the social girl, the petite singer pushes her red track jacket back, unzips it halfway and reaches for her cup of tea.

“I am loving Kenya but I must admit Nairobi is a bit cold,” she jokes, looks around the Stanley Hotel lounge and with sighs.

It’s only two days since she released her Sakata single, one in which she features Kenya’s Frasha, and it has been a busy week here in Kenya where she is on a media tour to promote the song together with her management team.

“I hardly speak Swahili but I had to learn as I was writing this song. Working with Frasha has helped me cross over to Kenya where I am creating a new fan-base. It is my first collabo with a Kenyan artiste and I hope to be back here more often,” she assures, adding that Nairobi is a great place for any artiste to seeking light up their showbiz career.

It is this ambitious character that has propelled her into one of the most sought-after artistes in Uganda where she has been featuring in literally all mega concerts alongside veterans such as Juliana Kanyamozi, Bebe Cool and Eddie Kenzo, all of whom she credits as good mentors in the competitive Ugandan industry.

“Unlike other places across East Africa, female artistes in Uganda seems to thrive more. The likes of Cindy, Juliana and many other more have been big names and I have been able to learn and draw a lot of strength from them as a rising artiste,” says the young beauty who already has two albums on her name.

“My passion for music drove me to write my debut song and after the big breakthrough, I was forced to skip classes as Makerere University as I got offers for shows in Dubai and other countries; where I was again shocked to learn that crowds knew my songs and were ready to embrace me,” says the Makerere University graduate- she just graduated recently.

“My mum is a single mother who believes that singing is mostly associated with bad people. Being the eldest of my sisters, she did not want me to venture into the music career but pursue a more professional career. It was, however, not the case for me as my passion for music could not let me let go of what I had so far achieved.”

Joining Makerere University with all the fame that surrounded her was not an easy task. But her down-to-earth character was a plus for her at school as she had to fit in, putting aside the fact that she was a celebrity.

“It was amazing how much the students and lecturers recognised me for my talent and that made me feel appreciated. My school calendar made me cancel most of my shows both locally and internationally that I had lined up as I had to switch all my attention on my schoolwork,” she adds, saying it is now time to let music take the central spot in her life.

The Ugandan singer reveals that as she started out, just like other up-coming artistes, she did not have a manager and she managed all what she did by herself with a little bit of help from her friends before getting her own managerial team.

She has so far released a couple of songs all which have been hits across Uganda including Koona which features Jose Chameleon’s brother, Pallaso.

“It is exciting to collabo with artistes who have more experience in the music industry as you get to learn a thing or two from them. More to that, you get new fans from every new collabo you do and that makes me feel good. Working with different producers like Dr Feasel has also been good,” she notes. Diana says she is lately being profiled alongside other Ugandan music heavyweights having been nominated alongside Juliana and Cindy in most awards categories in a music stay spanning barely four years.

“I am the youngest among all the big female artistes in Uganda today and it is a pleasure to be associated with my fellow female artistes who have been in the industry long enough,” with humility, she reiterates.

Artistes are no strangers to controversy but Diana prefers to keep a low profile and avoid anything that could damage her reputation as a musician.

“I hate controversy and don’t like people who make up gossip about others as much as the media likes to thrive on that,” she says, adding that she would be the last person to catch with nude photos, a controversy many female artistes have used as a publicity stunt.

“The media keeps on making speculations on who I am dating. Whenever they see me with a male artiste, they say we are dating each other. I am not that controversial girl. I just hate rumours,” she laughs.