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Ugandan Musician Chameleone Pioneers Sound of Bongo Flava

A Simple Start

He recounts the early days of his career as a high school student: “I started singing at the verandah of my father’s house...trying to discover myself.” He says he struggled for recognition mainly because there was little demand for that type of music in East Africa.

Chameleone got his big break as the opening act at concerts of internationally renowned artists like the late Lucky Dube and Jamaican reggae stars. “I started by singing other people’s music,” he says. Today, his own music is popular in East Africa. His fan base has also grown to include overseas audiences. So, he travels around the world -- including Europe and the United States -- showcasing his music to thousands of Africans in the Diaspora.

Relating to his audience

Chameleone appeals to a wide audience by singing in over six languages, including his native Luganda. He says his popularity lies in the social issues he addresses in his music. His first hit, Jamilla, was a tale of a childhood friend who lost her life to domestic violence. The song resonated with many East Africans who understood the reality of its message.

Chameleone released his first album in 1999. Since then he has made seven more, which have won several local awards and have garnered international recognition. He’s been nominated for both the Kora, Africa’s equivalent of the Grammy awards, and the British MOBO – Music of Black Origin. And, he’s a member of the Musicians’ Community, a coalition of artists who use their fame to help eradicate poverty and create HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns.

Watch Chameleone's Music video below: