Winnie Nakanwagi aka Nwagi, the Ugandan singer best known for her award winning single ‘Musawo’ to which she dances seductively, has one mantra for survival in the highly fickle entertainment industry; be ready to receive the positive and negative feedback from the audience.
She says it is a lesson she learnt the hard way from the Coca-Cola Rated Next music talent show when she competed in it in 2014. She says it was training that gave her confidence.
“The greatest benefit was performing live,” she says of the competition in which she emerged second runner-up.
It is also exposed her to the world. Soon after that she was signed by Swangz Avenue, a local audio and film production house.
Prior to that, she had mainly been a back-up artiste for many musicians in studio from which she would earn either a little or no pay.
“I however kept in music where my passion has always been,” she says.
But storming the studio was a second option for the budding songbird. She says it happened after she was hit hard twice during the same time. First she failed to join university.
“I had always wanted to pursue journalism at the university and always begged my father to sponsor my education but he jammed for his own reasons yet he had the resources,” she says. Then she got pregnant by a man who denied responsibility.
Nwagi is now a known hit maker and her songs are always on the airwaves. She says although she does not compose her songs she often participates in the script writing.
She says anyone venturing into the music industry should know that it is more competitive today, with new and unique voices storming the industry all the time. She says video directors are also upping their game with new prints and scripts to match the growing trends.
She says upcoming musicians should not give up when they fail to breakthrough.
“It is about practicing and keeping the candle burning,” she says, “To any struggling musicians, as long as your dream is music, don’t let anyone take advantage of you because they promise to promote you. There is always that time for you to shine and eventually make it there.”
Her optimistic streak appears to have been nurtured by a tough childhood. She was born in Namasuba, a Kampala suburb in a family of “many children”. At only nine years, Nwagi’s mother passed on and this meant adjusting to a new life of her absence.
“At certain times we would lack the basics in life and so I would go to my other relatives to find some money,” she says. Gradually, she went to St Agnes Naggalama for primary education, East High School, Migadde College and Namagabi SS for secondary education.
Resuming school is one of the key things on her to-do list given the chance and resources to afford it.