A taste of Afro-opera in Kigali

Wednesday October 06 2021
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Singer and song producer Maurix Baru. PHOTO | ANDREW. I KAZIBWE


Maurice Paul Mbarushimana alias Maurix Baru is no stranger to the musical limelight.

Back in 2013, he released Mama Ndakuririmbira to a warm reception. He is back; this time with Isi Irabakeneye, an Afro-opera song — a slow-paced piano-scented acoustic craft, majorly riven by his powerful vocals.

While his new song, translated into ‘The World Needs You,’ which calls for a revival, reflection and change, sounds like gospel, it isn’t.

Never mind that he has done a number of songs in that genre. “This kind of genre requires more time to write, record, and produce,” he said.

In venturing into this type of music, Baru has shown that he is not just a producer but a music performer as well.

“I have been recording and producing music for choirs for some time, so this is just me being innovative; I add an African face to classical music,” he said.


He also borrows from his experience at the Minor Seminary at Karubanda, where he used to play the piano in 1997, before joining the Chorale de Kigali.

After his song in 2013, Baru went into production, working on other mussicians' works.

Baru’s additions to centuries-old opera music includes African vocals, language, yrics, intonation, and message.

He is well aware music dominating the airwaves is designed for the youth to the exclusion of the elderly.

The release of Isi Irabakeneye resulted in a debate on this new genre, and whether it will go far on the Rwandan musical scene.

“Such music may not dominate local airwaves but that doesn’t mean people don’t enjoy it,” he explained.

Just to illustrate his point, Baru refers to prominent church choirs, whose music is not usually played on-air, but attract people to concerts.

“I am introducing something unique,” said Baru, who joined music 11 years ago while he was a student at the University of Rwanda.

He has worked with musicians Tome Close, The Ben, Urban Boys, Dream Boys, Eric Keland, Patrick Mitaru, Riderman, and Miss Shannel Nirere among other young generational musicians.

He has also worked with legendary Cecile Kayirebwa. In Uganda, he produced music with Kaan Records and Sykia Records.

He has also recorded and produced several songs for Chorale De Kigali. Baru is glad about the song’s reception, “Many have encouraged me to make more music in this genre, which I intend to do,” he affirms.