• MoRoots


After years of helping others to the top, MoRoots is coming out of her shell with a solo music project after working on it for 17 months, writes David Lumu.

Maureen Rutabingwa, better known by her stage name MoRoots, is not a new name on the music scene. She may not be in our faces everyday but she is a popular entertainer for live music enthusiasts and has graced several big concerts such as Blankets & Wine, Roast & Rhyme as well as performing alongside other music outfits such as Qwela band and Soul Deep.

She may not be a ‘mainstream’ figure but her music appeals to those who appreciate the power of instrumentals as opposed to auto-tune and other studio aides associated with several popular artistes. 

What makes MoRoots stand out is her rare skill of playing the saxophone and keyboard on top of her sweet vocal ability. Benon Mugumbya, the Swangz Avenue boss, has often described MoRoots as the ultimate music package.

And now MoRoots is coming out of her shell with a solo music project after working on it for 17 months.

“I’ve always wanted to do my own music…so, this is a chance for people to appreciate my personal touch,” she says.

She has already released Moonlight, the first of 12 tracks on a debut album From The Sun set to be released in June. It is, indeed, a refreshing sound and brings out a new MoRoots who is diverse in her approach.

On the song, MoRoots teams up with his former Qwela band mate Roy Kisaka to create a ballad that reminds me of the nineties neo soul. MoRoots also plays the piano accompaniment and, amazingly, she wrote and composed all the songs on the new album, which is a blend of RnB, electronic funk experimentation and a strong influence of African rhythms.

“The album is about my story of life, finding myself, encouraging people to do what they love to do,” she says. “It’s about what I feel I want to be and that’s the message I convey in my music. I’m so excited about this project.”

From a performance point of view, fans may have been used to different aspects of MoRoots’ music over the years; a lady who plays the saxophone and keyboard but not so much about her own music. Now, she says the new album brings out her technical ability to compose, arrange and perform music.

“Many people have always wondered whether I will ever put my skills to my own music, and this is the answer,” she says. “The new album is my embodiment as a musician with original work, a side many people didn’t know before.”

Listening to other hits on the album further emphasizes MoRoots’ new approach. Kaz Kasozi’s guitar features in two tracks, while Sandy Ssuubi lends her voice on one of the songs.

Many of the hits sound like soundtracks, very cinematic as if they were made for a particular theme. To this, MoRoots says she simply composed the music based on her feelings and what she goes through in life.

“I don’t like to be limited by rules of songwriting like verse, chorus, refrain and outro…I do what I feel. I try to experiment by starting with the end or when there is no chorus,” she says. “Some of the songs were inspired by 80s jams, Bakisimba, raga, mix of different styles, some spoken words. I want my fans to understand me from what I sing about, but not to go with the flow because everyone is singing in a particular way.”

Going forward, MoRoots is looking to break new barriers by collaborating with mainstream artistes.

“I love the way Feffe Bussi and Fik Fameica do their thing,” she says. “Hopefully one day I will do a collabo with them.”

MoRoots also plans to perform more often than before as she seeks to get crossover appeal.

“I’m releasing my songs one by one in the hope that fans can fully enjoy my music,” she says. “It is a deliberate plan to launch my solo career and I plan to do many performances.”

For now, though, MoRoots goes about her work doing marketing and innovations work at Diageo but this is just the start of a full-blown career in music.

This article first run in the observer via


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