Suzan Kerunen: On her album and the music industry

From Ashes We Rise, the 12-track album released April 29, 2022, features From Ashes We Rise, Earthly Speaking, Ginya, Slave (ft. Bernice the Bell), Crimson (ft. WD Alzain) and Remnants (featuring Lawrence Matovu and Keith Mugenyi).

The album that took him a year, 2021, to produce is a cocktail of Afro-fusion and reggae songs recorded in Alur, English and French with global messages such as environmental protection, love and sustainability. unity, and women’s rights. The album is also a testimony to the maturity of his music.

The title track From Ashes We Rise is a rallying of Africans to rise up after the chains are broken and shake their bodies for the sake of the land they love and common tastes.

In the song, Kerunen says, “It is a song that calls on the whole brave and strong-willed generation of Africa to rise up in valor and rebuild our continent from the ashes. The ashes accumulated by years of wars, corruption, disease and poverty. It’s an anthem that leads the brave to the fore to reclaim their land and rebuild it to its former glory…”

According to Kerunen, the song “Earthly Speaking” is a call for humanity to clean up the universe as it enters a dire state. “It’s a call to get rid of garbage, air pollution, gaseous waste, plastics in water and of course commercial deforestation, but rather to plant trees, protect the ozone layer and to clean the sea and other waters.”

While Slave tackles the modern evil of sexual slavery, which eats away at the female population simply because they were born female. Her innocence is bought by a man. Young women are driven to fulfill their dreams and end up becoming sex slaves.

What this means for his career

Also known as the Queen of Alur, Kerunen replies, “It means a lot to me at a time like this, after the shutdowns where artists around the world were in a dark place, away from the physical connection that affected us a lot. Being able to reconnect and sing, travel and release new works inspired by this experience and more is refreshing.

She attributes the album and the title to the life of a phoenix, the bird. “Currently, a person who returns after suffering trauma or defeat is called a ‘phoenix.’ burned, it is seen as a symbol of strong people who continually come out of difficult situations. I believe that the pandemic has been a fire for all of us and that we have been born from the ashes.”

Kerunen says this collaborative multilingual album boldly tells our African story. The stories consist of African triumphs, battles and other victories to come. The album is meant to give Africans new hope despite the times. He talks about ongoing efforts such as decolonization, revolutions led and empowerment of African women, the black skin movement, not forgetting the celebration of our diversity while highlighting special ceremonies such as weddings, childbirths, rites of passage, food and race.”

The album is designed to bring out the diversity of art through speech, music, songs, riddles and proverbs, to celebrate who we are.

“It also addresses the difficult issues affecting our continent. These issues include the modern slave trade, black skin stigma, human trafficking, war, governance and climate change issues that continue to suck the life and blood out of Africa by global authors and continental,” she adds.

The album, says Kerunen, employs African voices to tell our stories featuring some of the continent’s rising stars, for example, Herbert Kinobe (Uganda/USA), Bernice the Bell (Burundi), Mseto Nation (Uganda) , WD Alzain (Sudan Khartoum).

“I use this collaborative album to create a strong spirit of collaboration among African artists while addressing continental issues to a wider audience.”

Such collaborations break down physical boundaries and help build a movement of African ambassadors around the world. It is also about encouraging and developing a breed of artists who will create art not just for their own sustenance, but rather as a tool of reproduction for humanity.

Kerunen says the Covid-19 lockdowns have been a blessing for her to produce this album. “It was, but the second year I was weak and almost uninspired at first, because I kept hoping things would get better in a month or two…but it went from mild to worse and I almost gave up hope of a new day.”

She is optimistic that this sector is receding now that Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted in Uganda and around the world.

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