Ugandan musician Joseph Mayanja a.k.a. Jose Chameleon is currently on a tour of the United States that is scheduled to bring him to the Twin Cities on August 11th. The artist, who burst into the East African music scene with the hit “Bageya,” featuring Redsan, one of Kenya’s top artists, has had several successful tours in the United States, Europe and several African countries.
The question of Chameleon’s nationality has lingered since the beginning of his career, with some calling him Kenyan, others Ugandan and a few, Tanzanian. But everywhere he goes his fans see him as one of Africa’s best.
Chameleon, who was born in Uganda in 1979, adopted his stage name at a young age. He started his career in the late 1990’s with Kenya’s Ogopa DJs record label, where he released “Bageya,” one of his first compositions. While in Kenya, Chameleon collaborated with Uganda’s then top reggae artist, Bebe Cool, on several tracks. They have worked together since on songs like the exciting duet, “Songa Mbele.” They went back to Uganda where they became household names, their music attributed for the improved recording standards since 2000.
Chameleon’s music is a combination of Ugandan folk music, Central African rumba, zouk and raga, sung in mostly Luganda and Swahili. He released his first album in Kenya in 1999 which was followed by “Bageya” in 2000, “Mama Mia” in 2001, “Njo Karibu” in 2002, “The Golden Voice” in 2003, “Mambo Bado” in 2004 and “Kipepo” in 2005.
Recently, Chameleon added Shona to the array of languages in his music which has excited audiences in Southern Africa. He won several Pearl of Africa Music Awards and two categories in the 2006 Kisima Music Awards. He has been nominated for both the Kora Awards and the MOBO Awards.
Chameleon’s U.S. tour will bring him to Minneapolis – St. Paul on August 11th, at the Eritrean Community Center on 1933 University Avenue, St. Paul, presented by the East African Community of Minnesota. This concert will also feature East African DJs; DJ Dari (Uganda), DJ Dan (Kenya), DJ Baruti (Tanzania). More information can be found at the Ugandan American and Kilimanjaro Entertainment websites.