Ife Piankhi is a busy woman, poet, singer, writer, and mother. During the day she works as a Creative Facilitator at In Movement Art for Social Change in Kansanga where she helps P4-P6 children develop confidence as creative and critical thinkers through art. And the rest of the time she’s balancing her creative work and family.
Ife’s been singing for 25 years having grown up in London, she started performing at church conventions when she was 11 and she grew up in a family that loved music but wasn’t strictly ‘musical’. We take a few minutes to find out about where she is at with her music and explore her upcoming ventures.
How do you describe your musical style?
“It’s not easy to pigeonhole what I do as I like many genres of music. When I write a song I don’t think about what kind of music it is. I just allow it to come out. I like fusing different styles like jazz, funk, soul, reggae, folk, traditional instrumentation. What’s important to me is the message in my music and it leaving the audience with positive and inspired feelings.”
What’s your favourite part of performing?
“Playing with confident musicians who are comfortable improvising and creating something in the moment – I love that element of performance very much. Of course I love singing live and get very inspired by live instruments. I also love engaging with the audience. For me performing is not a ‘them and us’ scenario. We create the energy together performer and audience. I love when an audience gets involved and expresses how they are feeling that makes me very happy.”
Who are your favourite artists or sources of inspiration?
“Wow, the list is so long how much space do you have? Inspirational artists are people like: Stevie Wonder, Gil Scott Heron, Nina Simone, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Donny Hathaway, Bob Marley, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Fela Kuti, Miles Davies, Pharoah Saunders, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Mingus. Authors who have inspired me include Audre Lourde, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, Chiek Anta Diop, Anthony Browder, Dr Llaila O Afrika, Muata Ashby, Marimba Ani, Wayne Chandler. And, children, nature, positive people, healthy food, books, music and Africa inspire me.”
If you could go back in time what would you have done differently in your life?
“I would have fundraised to go to school in the US. I won a place at the American Music and Drama Academy in New York but I didn’t have the money to go. I would have also bought the house I grew up in.”
Where do you think the Ugandan music scene is going? Does it encourage you or is it headed in the wrong direction?
“I don’t know where it’s going, but I do think established artists need to do more for those up and coming artists. If you have anything in life that remains the same it will die so there is a need for new styles to be introduced. There has to be less exploitation of emerging artists and more support. We have to be more concerned with the quality of what we produce recording and performance and have artists that can do both well. I think Ugandan artists need to stop imitating and innovate their own style which reflects their experiences in the region. Lastly, Djs have to be more prepared to play music that people don’t know.”
If you were giving advice to young girls/women considering a career in singing/music/performing what would you tell them?
“That success does not come over night, it takes hard work, commitment. perserverance. Always go above and beyond what you are called to do. Develop your ability to talk and listen well to different kinds of people. Learn to trust yourself. Learn not to be affected by both praise and criticism, remain humble in the understanding that your talent comes from the Most High (God) and if you don’t use it you will loose it. Maintain a high standard for yourself and how you want your music to be delivered. Last but not least, learn to have fun if you don’t enjoy it, it’s not sustainable.
While Ife’s looking for sponsors to produce her album you can hear her music here: https://soundcloud.com/ife-piankhi. She’s created a new platform called, Triple C at the Hub for poets and visual artists on each second Tuesday of the month starting 13th March as well as continuing to have Fusion Parties at the Tilapia Centre in Bunga on each second Friday of the month. Contact her if you’d like to be part of creative workshops she runs at In Movement by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IfePiankhi?fref=ts.