Ugandan Diaspora Musicians ~ JoshRoy is Keeping the Spirit of Bob Marley alive in Seoul, Korea
JoshRoy aka Nviri Mayanja is an accomplished painter and singer/composer. He sings fusion Reggae (a mix of R&B, Hip Hop, Gospel, AfroPop and Reggae) in Luganda, Swahili, Gisu,Patios and English.
By Richard Babintoque ( Film, Pop Culture and Life in the R.O.K ) ~ On any given weekend in Seoul and the surrounding area you’re almost sure to be able to catch a JoshRoy Show. He is a gifted singer and has great stage presence. When he performs he does his best to get the audience up and dancing, and almost always succeeds in doing so. He works the stage so hard he is drenched in sweat by the end. There could be two people in the audience or hundreds, it doesn’t matter to Josh, he takes no prisoners, he gives it everything.
His sets are normally a good combination of original tracks and popular reggae standards, which often turn into sing-a-long sessions.
To say that JoshRoy is a prolific song writer would be close to an understatement with over 30 songs recorded and even more in the works; he finds his inspiration in everyday life and touches on subjects close to his heart. His songs are inspiring, they make you think, they make you dance; they make you pay attention. JoshRoy says “I mix RnB, Hip Hop, and a variety of Reggae in my songs which represent my influences.” He also ventures into Gospel as this is also part of his influences. Setting no boundaries for his message, JoshRoy also seeks to inspire hope and consciousness.
Where did this guy come from?
He was born in Uganda and started singing at the age of five with the help of his mother who was also a singer. By the age of six he was the lead singer in a children’s choir called Super Band which toured Kampala and Mbale.
In High School however, JoshRoy was a well known Emcee “but I changed my name often; I had so many” he says. And Freestyling on Reggae beats was the trend at school dances. “I really got a lot from listening to local artist Shanks VivieD and internationally acclaimed Reggae Dance Hall artist Buju Banton”.
From 2000 to 2006 he performed with the groups One Body, and The Collaboration, featuring now well known artist Cindy (Cinderella Sanyu). But it’s his Art that people from home remember most during those years. His paintings, mainly, gained him recognition with numerous gallery exhibitions. As a graduate of Arts and Design, and Education in University, his chosen career path was actually being an Artist painter and Art Teacher. And prior to coming to Korea in 2007 he was working at an International School in Kampala.
Why did he come to Korea?
“I came on a visit. I had summer holidays from my job at an International School, teaching High School Art and Social Studies, and I decided to travel outside of Africa for a change and visit with my aunt and a few cousins working at a family business near Seoul”. And so a turn of faith, JoshRoy never went back, but instead rediscovered his love for music.
What does he ultimately want to do with his music?
“I know I’ve been at it for a while, but in a way it’s like I’m just starting. I have so much to say, to discover, and to share.” He says about where his music is going. To his credit, JoshRoy’s songs have climbed the charts of Uganda’s Reggae Top 100, with “N’Zeka”: strong at number 3, followed by “Tewali” at number 9, and “I’m Ready” at number 15. “Dance Dance” with The One Rastafari was included on Island Def Jam’s Global Attack Mix Tape Series Vol 4 late, and his songs “Special people” and “High Five” are on top of the request lists.
He has shared the stage with many ex-pat artists and performed as a guest artist with Windy Cindy, Drunk and Disorderly, and Highway 9 at different venues in Korea and will continue to do so for now while his songs are being played on internet radio stations in the U.K., the U.S. and Central and Eastern Africa, and sometimes getting air play in the peninsula following radio interviews with Arirang and TBS –eFM.
“I’ve started making and releasing videos and I’m hoping this will help me reach more people and get wider recognition.” he says enthusiastically. In fact, Sonny Side Films video production of “High Five” is due to come out soon. “Sharing the stage with some of the expat-community Hip Hop artists and still keeping much of my Reggae fusion style has been a blessing and a great opportunity to be creative with my music.” He added. If the world is a stage, then get ready world, JoshRoy is on stage.
JoshRoy’s music can be found:
Sound Cloud (http://soundcloud.com/joshroy-reggae-fusion)
Special thanks to Michele Farley for her help with this article. She is JoshRoys manager and also a gifted photographer in her own right.