Kampala, Uganda | URN | Christmas songs produced in the ’70s and the ’80s still rule the airwaves, decades later, partly because today’s melodies do not have the same sense of appeal.
The sounds of silent night, O come all ye faithful, Little Drummer Boy, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Feliz Navidad and Joy to the World, among others, still sound fresh each year that passes, and get as much airplay on radio stations across the country, and through the streets of Kampala as the season sets in.
These, only compete with Philly Lutaaya’s Christmas Album, produced in 1986, with classics such as Merry Christmas, Zuukuka, Tumusinze, Ssekukkulu, Gloria and Katujaguze. To date, his songs remain central to Christmas celebrations in Uganda.
But a section of radio stations in Kampala says that tons of domestically-produced Christmas songs don’t tell good Christmas stories and do not come with similar charm like the 40 plus-year-old sounds of Boney-M, or even Philly Lutaaya’s three-decade-old lyrics which were conceived and choreographed in an age of digital inadequacies.
Some of the artworks have been condemned for failing to meet minimum broadcasting standards and as such, get less or even no airplay throughout the season.
Pastor Ronnie Mutebi, a music producer and Programme Director of Radio Two (Akaboozi) says that many Ugandan Christmas productions do not qualify for airplay due to quality issues, lack of creativity, and spiritual clout.
Mutebi says Uganda’s Music Producers should rise to the occasion to produce quality works as they have done with secular songs.
Elvis Kalema Ntale, the Music Producer of Radio One FM 90 says Ugandan songwriters and music composers are focusing more on the demand for secular music that will probably bring in quick cash than investing in legacy projects like Christmas album akin to Lutaaya’s memorable melodies.
He, however, attributes the shortfalls in Uganda’s music industry to cultures and traditions which do not relate so much with the genesis of the season.
Gloria Nanfuka, the Programme Director of 104.1 Power FM says many Ugandan Christmas Music productions have been rejected due to the character of the composers. Nanfuka says songwriters to get more deliberate about Christmas music productions that will tell the Christmas story a way that will plug the deepening valley that is denying the Ugandan audience appealing Christmas Music for seasonal celebrations.
Godfrey Kimuli Magonda, the Production Manager at Impact Radio shares the opinion that there are not so many Christmas carols produced in the country that fulfil airworthiness at their station. He says that the budding songwriters and singers are failing to capitalize on the technological development to create memorable scenes in the minds of the audience as done in the ’70s and ’80s.