Blue Note

Michael Henningsen
2 min read
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Uganda's Finest

Singer and Multi-instrumentalist Samite's Healing Music

To say that Samite's journey thus far has been difficult would be to understate the enormity of loss and struggle that has marked the Ugandan musician's life throughout. Extraordinarily, though, Samite has distilled the whole of his experience—the good and the bad—into lyrics and melodies that seem to have very definite healing powers. Not in that slightly creepy standard “new age” way, rather in a visceral, primal, beating-to-the-rhythm-of-your-own-heart way.

As a small child in Uganda, Samite learned to play the traditional African flute. By the time he reached his late teens, he had mastered both that instrument as well as the Western flute, and was considered to be among the most gifted flutists in East Africa. But by 1982, then-Ugandan president Idi Amin's reign of terror had taken a tragic toll on Samite whose brother was killed at the hands of the brutal dictator. After fleeing to Kenya, Samite continued to play music and discovered a capacity for learning a variety of new instruments.

Five years later, Samite emigrated to the United States, where he immediately began working and recording. Since his arrival in the U.S., Samite has become synonymous with the traditional melodies and rhythms of Ugandan music. And even though he sings a good deal in his native tongue, there's something about his voice that makes Samite's musical gifts universal.

His latest recording, Tunula Eno (Triloka) was largely recorded during his beloved wife's fight with brain cancer. And while there's certainly an air of reverence to the album, there's also an almost inexplicable joy that's infectious.

Samite performs an AMP House Concert Monday, Oct. 18, at Winning Coffee Co. (111 Harvard SE) at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10, available at the Book Stop and Bound To Be Read. E-mail for more information.

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