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Uganda's first Grammy nominee Eddy Kenzo gives hope that everyone can succeed

By Alison Hird with RFI
Uganda AFP - BADRU KATUMBA
SUN, 05 FEB 2023 LISTEN
AFP - BADRU KATUMBA

Ugandans are routing for 33-year-old singer Eddy Kenzo, nominated for Best Global Music Performance at tonight's Grammy awards in Los Angeles. Just being nominated has left him speechless, he says.

Eddy Kenzo, whose real name is Edrisah Musuuza, will perform the song "Gimme Love" alongside American singer Matt B.

He faces stiff competition from the likes of Nigeria's Burna Boy.

But whether or not he clinches the award for Best Global Music Performance, he's already inspired a generation by showing you can go far, despite a poor start in life.

He was born to a Ugandan father and a Rwandan mother whose family were among the victims of the 1994 genocide. He lost both his parents to illness.

"I come from a very poor background," he told RFI's Edouard Sadaka. "I lost my parents young, I wasn't even five."

He grew up on the streets selling water and admits it was hard.

"I suffered a lot, had some difficult times. I wanted to do a lot of things, like other kids, but I couldn't."

He struggled to convince DJs to play his songs, but he never gave up.

He had his first hit with "Sitya Loss” and won a BET Award in 2015 for Best International Act.

Now he says his success offers people hope that even the most underprivileged person can triumph.

"When people see me today they say to themselves anyone can do what I did," he says.

"It gives them hope that wonderful things can happen, even for people from less privileged families."

Kenzo says he's still "haunted" by memories of his difficult start in life, but that's also what pushed him on to help others.

"I decided to go and meet children in the ghettos, teach them different artistic disciplines and give them advice about how to behave in life, being disciplined," he told RFI.

He's rented a house and 70 children live there "learning dance, music, football".

Should he win a Grammy in the US he says it will be honour, for his fans and his culture.

But he's already won the hearts, and respect, of many back home.

See the full list of Grammy award nominees here.

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