Rwanda: Rises Up! Documentary And Album Coming This Month

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Rwanda: Rises Up! Rwanda: Rises Up! is a documentary that will premiere on Citytv stations across Canada at 8 p.m. on June 19 and a Sony Music downloadable album that will go on sale via iTunes three days later to raise awareness of recent developments in a country where an estimated 800,000 people lost their lives in 1994’s genocide.

The documentary, directed by Derek Horn, followed Canadian music artists Sarah Slean, Damhnait Doyle, Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat) and Tim Edwards (Crash Parallel) as they interacted with Rwandans during a visit to the impoverished African nation last November on behalf of Song For Africa. You can read more about it in a article found at

In addition to the aforementioned Canadian artists who went to Rwanda, Billy Talent’s Ian D’Sa, The Trews’ John-Angus MacDonald, Operation MD (featuring Sum 41’s Cone McCaslin and H20’s Todd Morse), Grand Analog, Classified, Mike Boyd, Luke McMaster, Sharon Riley And The Faith Chorale, Rafiki, K8, Miss Jojo, White Mic, Itorero, Noble Blood and Queen Gaga And The Heaveners are among the artists who contributed to the album to boost spirits and prospects in Rwanda.

While African singers and musicians were involved, the 11 songs aren’t particularly Afro-centric. You’ll find ballads, pop, rock, hip-hop, dance and gospel songs that wouldn’t sound out of place on many mainstream North American radio stations.

Rwanda: Rises Up! was preceded by the single “Beautiful,” a mid-tempo pop number featuring Edwards and Rwandan group Holy Jah Doves.

The album opens with “100 Bananas,” which was written by Bays and Slean and features the former on lead vocals. The melodic pop-rock song is better than anything on Hot Hot Heat’s new album,  Future Breeds.

Doyle and Slean don’t broaden their horizons by using acoustic guitars and strings on “Komera” and “Not For Sale” respectively. “Canada To Kigali” is an ensemble-performed hip-hop/dance number that’s sung in English and one of the Rwandan languages. The hip hop continues on Classified’s “Trying To Make It Work.”

Rwanda is known as the “land of a thousand hills,” and D’Sa wrote and recorded a song of the same name for the album. The political track is a rocker with folk elements and features impressive guitar, as you’d expect. But D’Sa’s voice easily carries the material, which you might not.

Another highlight is Operation MD’s anthemic “We Stand,” which features Itorero and samples recorded by producer David Bottrill (Tool, Godsmack) at the Kigali House studio in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali.

Itorero’s vocals add a bit of an African influence to McMaster’s pop song, “Carry You.” Acoustic guitar and loops dominate the instrumental “Yearning.”

The album ends with another bilingual cut, the always stirring “Amazing Grace.” Things really pick up three-quarters of the way through when Sharon Riley And The Faith Chorale join in.

Here’s the track list for the Rwanda: Rises Up! album:

  1. “100 Bananas” — Steve Bays featuring Holy Jah Doves
  2. “Beautiful” — Tim Edwards featuring Holy Jah Doves
  3. “Komera” — Damhnait Doyle
  4. “Not For Sale” — Sarah Slean
  5. “Canada To Kigali” — Damhnait Doyle, Tim Edwards, Sarah Slean, Steve Bays and Grand Analog, featuring Rafiki, K8 and Miss Jojo
  6. “Trying To Make It Work” — Classified with Mike Boyd and White Mic, featuring Itorero
  7. “Land Of A Thousand Hills” — Ian D’Sa with Noble Blood
  8. “Carry You” — Luke McMaster featuring Itorero
  9. “We Stand” — Operation MD featuring Itorero
  10. “Yearning (Instrumental)” — John-Angus MacDonald featuring Itorero
  11. “Amazing Grace” — Damhnait Doyle, Tim Edwards, Sarah Slean and Steve Bays, featuring Queen Gaga And The Heaveners
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