Maurice Kirya: On Singing Out his Soul

It is that time of the year when the sun plays too hard to catch. It shows up midmorning only to disappear before the coffee beans can turn brown. It pours out all over the skies hitting and heating hard on whatever its sharp rays stab. And this heat renders forgotten the previous downpour when it quickly sucks out the moisture from the ground awakening the dust. These rays invade, with rage, the roofs of buildings where many are shielding off to have the day’s work done and boils out the coldness to a place where sweaters and jackets are soon abandoned. Should it find you at a coffee café, like where Maurice and I were, this sun turns the menu tables down side up. Instead of asking for a steaming mocha, you settle with a cold coke. For our sake, we had to opt sitting in the open. The sun was not about to spare us and we gave in. That is how we were to have our conversation uninterrupted.

It has been a busy schedule for Maurice the past few days working on a number of music projects and the exhaustion is clearly visible on his face. He works through his shielded eyes to keep them open and blocked from the sun at the same time. At different intervals, his fingers stretch out the muscles of the forehead as his right hand fist is in constant motion flexing and folding in an effort to remind the blood there in to go on flowing.  With a work trip ahead of him, he is having back to back meetings that when we meet he is just coming from another. However, he commits to our conversation and we are good to go.

Maurice Kirya is one of Uganda’s talented musicians whose music is more famous than the man himself. In a country where musicians are always performing on a stage somewhere, Maurice is not of the kind. His approach is different. His musical journey led him to a soul search which gave birth to a unique genre that describes the music he sings. His fans will tell you of Mwoyo.

Today, Maurice has grown to have five albums on the shelf. These only count for the time he has been pursuing his career professionally. From the first album of Misubawa which was released in 2009, then The Book of Kirya, Free Dreams and Mwoyo and his latest Beyond Myself.

He has always found himself having to sit down to revise and improve his craft. As a musician that writes his own music, Maurice’s presence is heavily felt in his songs. There is a lot of reflection that goes on in the arrangement of the song from the writing phase to production. “It has taken me one year to work on my next album Beyond Myself.” He discloses to me.

At every stage of his music career, there is a level of Excellency to which he looks towards achieving. The first three albums were steps he used to grow to the level he found himself. Today, there is a group of people that have grown along with him.

“I know where my people are and how they would like to be approached.”

His music has endeared him to the world and yet he has been second to his pace not to be swallowed up by this excitement. For this reason, he always sweeps the audiences by surprise every time he releases yet another album. In 2009 when he released the Misubawa album, he could not afford to make use of all the instrumentation he thought he required. He did not have the money. By his second album, he had been able to raise some funds through and that enabled him polish up The Book of Kirya. Better works were released with the third album Mwoyo leaving the audience unable to predict what would come next.

“I’ve always known I was going to be different. And that is what I do.”

He looks at his music today not just as music rather a culture. He has built a fan base. One that has grown into a movement. This movement has made many other people realise that they too can make it. They want to take up bolder steps than he ever imagined.

“These words are not just words, I was meant for more. My music is supposed to outlive me.”

Having done what every other artiste does, he is now up to the challenge of what very few of the artistes do. Through Carmela, Maurice is transcribing his music to avail it to music schools.  Carmela, who happens to run a music school in Bugolobi is leading the transcription process, a step an excited Kirya cannot afford to hide. There is a particular song on his heart, Ku Lunaku Olwo which he wrote for over two years that is paving the way.    

Kirya is always evolving. He believes when one loses the power to change oneself whenever one wants to, one is stale, dead and stagnant.

“Everyone should have the freedom to be who they want to be when they want to. People need to see you for who you are.”

In his life, whenever things are not making sense that is the right time for him to sing, to write and to create. When he is not pursuing music, Maurice is somewhere taking up an acting role.

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