Ann Nassaga alias Afrie.

One thing that stands out the first time you meet Ann Nassaga alias Afrie is a fact that she talks.

She will comment about your hair, shoes and shirt even before the conversation starts officially (that’s if such things like official conversations even exist).

And it’s this same persona that follows her on stage, most times before she starts her set, she will start by talking to her audience;

“Guys, cheer up, you don’t want me to be all by myself up here, you know these things are not easy,”

she once said while opening at LaBa Art Festival last year.

She goes by the name Afrie because she believes in a united Africa;

“It’s something I want to stand for in my music.” 

Yet outside the performer and prolific vocalist she is, Afrie is a fresh graduate of Dental Technology from Makerere University in Kampala.

For many of Kampala’s fine music consumers, Afrie arrived with a performance of Askari, at the official album unveiling of After Dawn by former Tusker Project Fame contestants Undercover Brothers.

Among the many that watched the performance was Jude Mugerwa and Suzan Kerunen, the two prolific brains behind Pearl Rhythm Festival and its apprentice programme, the Stage Coach.

In fact, Kerunen once noted that it was that time that they started monitoring her.

She was later lined up for the second edition of the Pearl Rhythm Stage Coach mentorship where she got an opportunity to record professionally for the first time.

“I had recorded music before but it was barely intense, it was the normal thing of creating beats using a keyboard and later singing to it in studio.” 

Yori Yori was the outcome of the mentorship – produced by Mugerwa, it’s an upbeat song about a girl talking about the guy she loves though for some reason, they are taking forever to make the relationship public.

Like many of her present songs, Yori Yori had stayed with her for long, it was a song she had written, performed but had not recorded;

“Proper recording is costly thus, most of the times we write music, perform it to raise money to do the kind of recording we want.”

She usually performs with a piano and a band, though when she’s playing songs like Teliyo Mulala and Let her Know, it’s the piano that takes center stage. 

“I originally started playing the piano when I was younger but I didn’t learn a lot, though in 2014, I became serious about playing.” 

Her performance at the initial Pearl Rhythm Festival was lauded as engaging, energetic and some music pundits noted that she was a force to watch out for. 

Afrie would later perform at the Writivism Festival Kampala in 2016, open LaBa Art Festival’s tenth edition, appear at Goethe Zentrum Kampala’s Sundowners’ music showcase and opened for Mo Roots, Kenneth Mugabi, Happy K and Solome Basuta at the Christmas edition of Qwela Junction.

Her second single Askari was released at the beginning of the year, a slow medley praising a man that she suggests is incomparable and thus needs to be protected by her -  even before its initial release, Askari had gained a lot of momentum especially among the AfrieKans (as she often refers to her fans).

But even before they could get enough of Askari, Afrie decided to release probably one of her biggest songs so far, Let Her Know.

It sounds much different from the version she has been performing and has a choir effect to it – over her past performances, the song had been referred to by different journalists as Ugandan Girl or African Girl since it wasn’t titled.

“I had thought of calling it African Girl but I realized there’s a Kenyan song with the same title and in the same way, back home, Maurice Kirya has a Ugandan Girl.”

On 30 April, Afrie will be one of the artistes that will light up the Blankets and Wine stage with her music; she says that she’s in between surprised and excited since she never saw the call to that stage coming this early.

“I’ve never attended Blankets and Wine because it was way out of my league,though it was that event I always would read about in the papers, to see how it went down.”

She though notes that she can’t wait to get onto the stage because it’s an opportunity for people to learn about her music and her story.

Listen to her music here: