Iryn Namubiru, also known as Irene Namubiru, is a female Ugandan performing artist and a resident of Paris, France.
She was born in the Central Region of Uganda. Namubiru attended several educational institutions, including:
- Bugema Adventist Senior Secondary School in Luweero District
- Namasagali College in Kamuli District
- Airways Tourism & Hotel Institute
- Stendhal University in Grenoble, France.
- Cavendish University, Uganda
While at Namasagali College, Namubiru met and became friends with Juliana Kanyomozi, another female Ugandan performing artist who was attending the college at the same time.
According to Namubiru, she has always had a passion for singing since her childhood and always strove to make this talent a bigger part of her life. Her first major attempt at success in the music industry came in 1995 when she joined singers-cum-rapper DJs Ragga Dee and Molar-Messe, as the group Da Hommies, and "Joss Jjew" Mawejje as studio arranger/keyboardist, helping release a series of singles including the group's hits "Bamusakata", "Mukwano", "Mukyala tokaba", early 1995. Her own first single "learn to love" also appeared on the group's subsequent album to great acclaim. Soon afterwards, she had her first stage appearance in September 1995.
In 1999, she joined Kanyomozi, her former schoolmate at Namasagali College, to form the R&B all-girl group called I-Jay. In 2000, they released their first single which got moderate air play on radio stations in Uganda.
Soon after the release of their record, Namubiru left for France and the group disbanded. This break up would later lead to wide speculation that the two separated on unfriendly terms, although they both denied such rumours. While in France, she formed the Afro-Soul group Nujeli together with Julien Grout and they released songs like "Nsangi", "Eko", "Ensi" and "Baami Baffe". But these songs were not successful in Uganda. Later on, Namubiru joined forces with singer Bebe Cool in the songs "Simbalala" and "Lwaki Onzannyilako?".
However, Namubiru did not achieve widespread success until 2006 when she released her album Nkuweeki?. This marked the beginning of her fast rise to be one of the best female musicians in Uganda. Since 2006, Namubiru has released several successful songs like "Y'ono", "Lwaki", "Bonna Obasinga", "Begombeko", "Birowoozo", which have earned her several leading awards in the Ugandan music industry. In 2011, Namubiru capped her most successful year ever by winning in four categories of the 2011 PAM (Pearl of Africa Music) Awards. She won in the categories of Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Best RnB Single of the Year.
Namubiru has been widely criticised by her detractors for dressing "inappropriately" in her music videos and, at times, her concerts. Her critics charge that her costumes go against the traditional Ugandan way of dressing and set a bad example for other aspiring musicians. In 2009, her video for the hugely successful Bonna Obasinga was panned by several people, several of them fans, for going too far with the swimming costume she wore. She later decided to shoot another video for the song to placate her critics. However, many of her fans have defended her "creative" dressing against such accusations and blame them on those who are still socially backward and are not willing to try out new styles.
Namubiru was married to Frank Morel, a Frenchman, and together they have two sons. She is fluent in English, French, and Luganda, her native tongue. She balances her career between her family in France, where she lives, and Uganda, where most of her music fans reside.
Arrest in Japan
On 3 May 2013 Namubiru was arrested in Tokyo, Japan for alleged possession of illegal drugs, where she had gone to perform at a music concert. Namubiru was arrested at Tokyo's Narita International Airport, before performing at the concert.
Reportedly, her fans (said to be Ugandans in Japan) who had gathered at the concert venue, got to know about the arrest and as a result went to the airport, but the Japanese Police told them that Namubiru was travelling on a French passport and they could therefore do nothing to help her; she later sought help of the French Embassy in Japan. The week before the arrest, Namubiru had been tweeting about how excited she was that she was going to be performing in Japan. The concert was to take place at the Yotsukaido Cultural Hall in Tokyo, Japan's capital.
Namubiru was found carrying ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine), the drug was concealed in her luggage. She was transferred from the Tokyo airport detention facility to a police station in Central Tokyo where she recorded a statement in connection to the possession of MDMA commonly known as "ecstasy" (being in possession of this drug is a crime in Japan); she however denied any knowledge of the drug. On 24 May 2013, at a hearing in Japan, the court did not find her guilty of drug-trafficking charges as the evidence provided by the state was not enough to pin the star to the level of a drug dealer, and so, now that the court had found Namubiru to be innocent, police in Japan had her cleared of drug trafficking charges and set her free.
Awards and nominations
- Best female Artist and Best R&B song at the PAM Awards 2006 .
- Best Female artist Buzz magazine 2007.
- Best Collaboration Diva Awards 2009.
- Best Female Artist PAM AWARDS 2010.
- Best Afro Single Diva Awards 2010.
- Artist of the Year Diva Awards 2010.
- Artist of the Year PAM AWARDS 2011.
- Best female Artist PAM AWARDS 2011.
- Best RnB Song PAM AWARDS 2011
- Best Album PAM AWARDS 2011
- Collaboration with “Happy Science” Japan on two songs. 2012
- 2013 HiPipo Music Awards – Best Band Song Ndeyreya