The New Times
Despite a Friday evening downpour and a drizzle that could not go away till late, Kigali Jazz Junction lovers could not be stopped as they filled up the marquee at Kigali Serena Hotel in their numbers to see American singer Phyllisia Ross and Rwanda’s very own King James perform.
It was an evening of excitement as the two musicians who headlined the March edition of Kigali Jazz Junction put up spectacular performances, despite earlier fears by organisers that the turn up could be affected by the weather.
While the previous edition was a tribute to recently fallen musicians Mowzey Radio and Hugh Masekela, this edition of the Jazz Junction served as a special edition to mark three years since the Kigali Jazz Junction was born.
The organisers also used the opportunity to pay tribute to partners mainly the media, sponsors including Airtel and Bralirwa, the main sponsors, who have been part of the three-year journey.
Remmy Lubega, the CEO of RG Consult, the brain behind Kigali Jazz Junction, handed over certificates of appreciation to different partners to recognize their support.
If anything, the turn up, despite the downpour, confirmed the popularity Kigali Jazz Junction has gained over the years.
There was an almost one-hour delay to the performances but thank God the resident band Neptunez, which recently won the “Battle of Bands”, was at hand to keep the show goers entertained.
While Lubega has been hosting the past events, this time he ceded the emceeing tasks to Georgie Ndirangu and Sylvia, only coming on to introduce Ross.
The CNBC anchor and his co-host did a good job spicing up the event, at one time Ndirangu to the dancefloor with Phyllisia Ross, showing off some Kizomba skills.
King James took the stage first, delighting his fans with some of his old songs. The RnB singer however had issues with his voice and revealed that he was hit by a bout of flu since Thursday, affecting his vocal abilities.
Despite that, King James was able to sing some of the old hits include Nyuma Yawe, Niko Nabaye, Narashize, Ndagukunda and Hari Ukuntu before the band played a saxophone version of his popular hit Ganyobwe. The singer performed several other songs including Nturare Utabivuze before paving way for Phyllisia Ross.
A piano on the stage was set for the Haitian-America singer, who says the musical instrument is her favourite. The singer then introduced her popular songs which she went on to perform, including Konsa, You and Me, Only for You, Can’t Resist, Di Mwen and her French zouk Ma Vie sans Toi, translated as My Life without You, among other.
Her live performance caught the attention of the audience which automatically fell for her attractive voice and her lively character, which impressed even those who didn’t know her.
She connected well with the audience, taking breaks to interacting with revelers in both French and English and at one point said “we are also Africans”, in reference to her roots, delighting the already impressed audience.
The more she sang, the more people fell for her music and those who could not help it, including the MCs, stood up and danced in what turned out to be a fantastic performance from an artiste, who many admittedly said they didn’t know before the show.
Upon her arrival, the singer went to Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre to pay tribute to the remains of over 250,000 victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
By the time the show ended, few minutes past 1am, it was imminent that Phyllisia Ross had made a mark on the Rwandan audience.