The number of times Diana has been covered by numerous Ugandan artistes emphasises how potent a melody it is – the list includes Juliana, who probably pulled off the best rendition ever. But whoever was singing it, the melody was always going to be absurdly beautiful. He had a wonderful ear, did Elly Wamala – have a listen to songs like Viola and you get the idea – it’s just as pretty a song as Diana.
While he is lauded as a singer and a live music performer, for me, it was his song writing and his capacity to compose gorgeous timeless melodies that I found simply stunning. Diana is the sort of pretty melody that stays with you.
Diana was an era-defining song, immediately capturing the nostalgia of what might seem like a simpler, warmer times, when we look at them through the rose-tinted glasses of time. It’s the ability to capture this context that made Elly Wamala’s music special.
His superior melodies were not the only thing that put him at the top of his game – he was also an excellent lyricist, using Luganda to express himself with a wonderful eloquence that was rich, almost poetic, and made him a storyteller.
You can’t help but feel blessed that you can come across his music – I get the impression his estate looks after his portfolio diligently, and can only hope future generations understand that before Sweet Kid, and everything that has been wrong about the industry, we were graced with timeless genius.