Former Uganda national women cricket team Captain Ayato Grace Mackenzie last year officially joined the Uganda Music industry. Grace as is commonly known started out as Cricketer in her youthful years while at school. She managed to beat all odds out and joined the National team which she captained in 2016 at the UAE international women’s T20 CUP, 2016 ICC Africa Women’s T20 Qualifiers, Now five years on, Grace has decided to make her music dream come true.
In 2018, Grace decided to retire from cricket and concentrate on her dream- music. Ever since then she has released numerous songs that include Badboy, Deejay,Okakasa and her latest hit song Bum bum a collabo with Daddy Andre. We caught up with her and shared her journey to music.
With your history, Cricket has been your passion, how did you end up singing?
Well, it’s a journey but I can sum it up and say, enthusiasm, hardwork and dreams landed me into music. I have played cricket ever since my school days. My educational life was sponsored by cricket. I attended the best schools in Uganda like Kibuli ss on scholarship. My rare talent landed me on the National women team where I was a captain and Vice Captain. But all this, I had passion to sing. I loved music. And when my cricket journey came to an end, I decided to pursue my dream that is music. Today I am here and in a few years to come, I should be one of the best Musicians in Uganda.
So all those years as a cricketer, did you try going to the studio to record a song since it was your passion?
I didn’t get a chance to go to the studio but every time I would listen to a nice song out there, I would be keen on getting deeper details. I would also be so busy with my daily other work. After work I would go to training so it never got any chance.
Apart from your passion for music, are there any musicians home or abroad that would inspire you?
To be honest, no one.It is that funny. For me I listen to each and every song. If I would love the song then I would get inspired but not exactly the artist that sung it. From day one, I felt i would be the artist that would inspire myself.
Well, today you’ve a well paying job at Case Clinic as a debt controller, you’re a national figure in the sports world, don’t you think venturing into music is like a step below your status?
I don’t think so.Yes I have a job that pays me well but like I said before, music is passion. I amnot here to fight for supremacy, I am here to do the thing I love most. Actually when I am in studio singing, I feel I have arrived to my dream destination. So no regrets no what.
You sound so sure and energetic, what is the invisible hand behind all this?
HAHA. The invisible hand is my God, strength and hope. Because I know I am doing something right, I feel my heart is at peace and only the sky’s the limit.
So 2018 marked the first day you stepped in Studio, What songs made your break through?
The song that made my breakthrough was my first single Bad boy. I went to the studio just like that. I told the producer I wanted to record a song. He gave a piece of paper and started writing piece by piece,in a few hours, I had written something like a song. He went to panel beat it and it came out a hit. It played in bars and households. I have never looked back.
Who actually writes and produces your songs?
I personally write my songs by the way. I write about my life situations that I got through daily. I write about love because I have been loved before and heartbroken. Yeah.
Your kind of music cuts across the whole generation, do you intend to go international?
Like I told you in our chats, I a m not only a local product. I want to be an international breed. Yes of course I intend to go international. I know it’s not an easy journey but my team and I are ready and God willing am going to make it.
Who do you actually attribute your success to?
First of all I attribute my success to God, Without him I wouldn’t have made it this far in life. Secondly my sports friends and my boss at Case Clinic. He has been there for me. He gave me a job when I was just in senior six vacation at Case Clinic. Supported me to study at University and up to day I am still here. He is happy with each and every progress I make in my life. He loves my songs.
Also, there is NBS TV’S Turf B. I Can’t call him manager but he has been everything to me of late. He has used his connections to set up collaborations, record and shoot videos for me.I don’t have money but he has been there for me.
Well, Today we have so many upcoming musicians in It, how ready are you for the competition?
That’s a normal thing in the industry, there will always be competition but Everything has its timing so if this is my time , it’s my time and I will use it properly. I know others will come maybe even better than me but it’s okay because I won’t go down without a fight and when I say fight I mean music-ward. Am not saying I don’t want upcoming talent, of course I do because we need our music to go forward but they should come knowing things are not easy , it needs discipline, respect and hard work to get where you want to be and not giving up too.
How different is your music from the rest of so called bubble gum music?
My music is slightly different because I do more of soul touching while bubblegum music is more of rock-pop. Thou both music can easily be grooved to. Because I sing about people’s experiences, I doubt Ugandans can find my music bubble gum. And I don’t intend to release such bogus music. My songs will be here to stay.
Ever since 2018 since you stated does music pay well?
Yes music is well paying. Especially when you are on top because the more your music plays the more shows you get meaning the more money you earn.
Enough of music, Girls like you, you’re inboxes are always full of me asking you out, how do you handle?
As I said, the best way to get on top in the game is by being respectful not only to people but to yourself too. Once you respect yourself, people will find it hard to disrespect you.
Are you married yet?
I was once married but things didn’t workout. I was actually culturally married but like I said everything fell out and I quit. I have a son from that marriage . For now, I want to focus more on my career.
Oh, sorry. What has been your worst experience as a musician with men?
There are so many experiences with Uganda men I have encountered. But the most standing out is the one night stand I had with a guy. The next morning after, he never bothered to call and check on me.I also ignored. A few years back, we bumped into each other and he started hitting on me again.I told him that now I way grown-up and cant fall for his words again.
Okay, how do you then handle as a single mum? Do you relate well with your ex?
I am so happy and independent. I take care of my son. He is everything to me. Yes the father of my child is okay. He sees his son and that is all. We are so okay.
How did covid 19 lockdown affect you
COVID-19 lockdown really affected me musically, financially and physically. I had many projects to do which were postponed due to lockdown and this took as a step behind but we still strived hard and stayed on our ground. With no shows, our way of earning a living became so hard but of course, as humans, we looked for other ways to earn a living through it wasn’t the same.
Are there any new projects ahead?
Yeah. I am working on an album and soon it will be complete. The songs there are massive and Ugandans should look for them on all social media pages.