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Rising From The Great White North: Ottawa-Based Rwandan Canadian Empress Nyiringango

By Stevie Connor.

I write a lot of articles about Canadian artists, and also about artists from many countries around the world for The Sound Café . Mainly these artists are established and have large followings in their home country and also internationally. With The Sound Café HQ being based in Ontario, Canada, I get sent many e-mails from performers that I am not that familiar with from across this vast country, in an array of genres, and I wanted space to shine a light on some of these very talented artists.

To define 'emerging' can be a little tricky, some singer-songwriters, bands, musicians can spend a few years playing locally before they are recognized regionally, and may take a number of years of hard work and touring to be acknowledged nationally, so, to clarify this column, I am going to feature artists who I think are beginning to 'emerge', or already have 'emerged ' from their local or regional scenes.

I decided to create a column exclusively for The Sound Café called 'Rising from The Great White North', where I'll showcase 'emerging' talent from across Canada. I hope you enjoy the features and come back and visit again.

Ottawa based Rwandan Canadian singer-songwriter Empress Nyiringango is a self-taught musician, showcasing the self-titled Jablur sound, which stands for jazz, blues, and Rwandan.

This distinctive fusion features Rwanda’s oldest instrument “Inanga" (Zither) and contemporary music sounds. Singing in her mother tongue Kinyarwanda, paired with Swahili, French, and English, Empress Nyiringango composed her first song ‘Agahinda’ (sorrow) in memory of all the victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Saddened by the heinous crimes, she embarked on an arduous healing musical journey to convey messages of resilience, compassion, unity & peace to her people and audiences alike.

Her artistic journey began in Kigali - Rwanda in high school, where she explored her creativity while singing, writing, directing, acting, and stage managing. Her songs, such as Wanalia (They cry), Umwana (Child), Umurage Ukwiriye u Rwanda (Legacy for Rwanda), Amahoro I Rwanda (Peace in Rwanda), and Afrika were inspired by love, life experiences, people struggles, and many great artists across the world. Her new album titled UBUNTU was released on October 29th, 2022. On her days off from music, Empress puts her Master's in education (University of Ottawa, 2020) in practice by doing freelance interpretation and consultation in the Ottawa arts community. She performs for residents in long-term care through Radical Connections. She is also a freelance actress and a mother of two who enjoys taking care of and spending time with her family.



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