Uganda's Eddy Kenzo grew up on the streets - now he's making his first Canadian appearance at Afrofest
Kenzo and the Ghetto Kids perform at Woodbine Beach on Sunday for Afrofest's 30th anniversary
Edrisah Musuuza knows all too well what adversity is. After all, he faced it at a very early age.
Orphaned as a child, he lived on the mean streets of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. He says music became his safe haven as he learned to survive.
"I have a humble background. I lost my mom when I was, like, four years old," the East African pop star told CBC Toronto before making his first Canadian appearance this Sunday at AfroFest in the Beach.
"Then, I started dancing on the street. I stayed on the street for 13 years ... But I got a lot of inspiration from the street and I got a lot of experience and it made me who I am today."
Who he is today is Eddie Kenzo, as he became popularly known after his breakthrough single Yanimba in 2008.
It became a hit not just in Uganda, but across East Africa. Since then, his music has reached an international audience through YouTube where his videos get an average of 10,000 views per day.
Kenzo won the Viewer's Choice Best New International Artist at the 2015 Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards held in Los Angeles, and this year he won BET's Best African Entertainer award.
He is looking forward to playing at the 30th anniversary of Afrofest along with his dance crew, the Triplets Ghetto Kids
"I love Canada, although it's too hot right now," said Kenzo. "I'm so excited; I'm looking forward to the concert. It's going to be a new sound for them."
Kenzo often brings the Ghetto Kids as back-up dancers on his tours. The three girls and six boys, range in age from six to 16.
"These kids, I saw them in the ghetto; they are my neighbours. They had a dream, they trained to dance and they dance nice."
We started from ghetto on the streets of Kampala. Our dance style is different," said Patricia Nabakooza, 13, who dances with the Ghetto Kids.
"I'm so happy to come to Canada. My first time. I am so happy," Nabakooza said.
"The way that we started our life, we did a song with our papa Eddy Kenzo that went viral and made us famous and that's how people got to know us."
The Ghetto Kids haven't forgotten where they come from. They've set up a foundation to help Ugandan street children get an education.
Peter Toh, president of Music Africa, organizes Afrofest, one of the largest free African music festivals in North America. He booked artists from all over Africa and Toronto to perform this year.
After playing Afrofest this Sunday, Kenzo and the Ghetto Kids will play African music festivals in Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa .
Toh says landing Eddy Kenzo and the Ghetto Kids for their first Canadian performance was very important.
"It is their backstory. What they have been through and who they are is representative of many Africans' experience. And they play good music," said Toh.
"The orphans in Uganda, they see him and they say, 'You know what? Even though I'm on the streets I can become like Eddy Kenzo,'"