Geoffrey Oryema is from Uganda, the source of his musical roots. His work, however, has been inspired by a myriad of styles – a fully realised absorption of Western pop, African traditions and the creative need to define a very personal musical identity.

Oryema was born in Soroti, where his family were immersed in the country’s traditional cultures. He was encouraged by his father to play the nanga (a seven-string harp), and he also travelled around Uganda with his mother, a director of the national dance company The Heartbeat of Africa. Other members of the Oryema family were story-tellers, poets, and musicians. “I was struck by the musical disease at the age of seven,” he says.

The powerful roots of Oryema’s African heritage now have a more subtle influence on his music. The songs are now more universal, invariably expressed in his second language of English and influenced by Alarcen’s pop-rock roots. Through it all, however, Oryema’s music signals a unique talent whose musical identity has been established away from the confines of simple categorisation.

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