Spectacular Tanzanian songbird
By ThisDay Reporter
28th December 2009
Judith Wambura, aka Lady Jay Dee , in action during one of her live shows in Dar es salaam recently

SHE is among a few Tanzanian female singers who have of late been landing invitations to perform at various high-profile events within and outside the country.

She sings in various languages, including Kiswahili, Zulu, Lingala, Kinyarwanda, French, and has a catalogue of hit songs to her credit.

This is Judith Wambura, an artist who has so far won countless awards in her glittering career.

In 'Distance', one of her most popular tracks (filmed by Tanzanian company African Pictures), Judith has used more than four languages.

“The mixture of languages in 'Distance' has not only made the song more appealing, but also helped me widen my fan-base,” she revealed in an interview recently.

Born on January 1, 1970 in Shinyanga, Lady Jay Dee, as she is popularly known, started shining at a tender age of seven when she was singing for a church choir.

Her electrifying lyrics, melodies and a dash of true African womanhood gives her a well-deserved recognition throughout East Africa and beyond.

“I started singing with a church choir in Shinyanga when I was barely seven years old,” Lady Jay Dee, who is also known as 'Binti Machozi', said.

At one time, she was a member of Afro Reign group, one of the leading Tanzanian R&B groups in the mid 1990s.

Soon after completing school, she joined Clouds FM Radio in Dar es Salaam as  a presenter. It was around this period that she released her first single 'Nakupenda' (I love you) in 2000.

She later came up with another song 'Mpenzi Wangu' (My lover).

After working with Clouds FM for some time, she quit broadcasting in order to become a full-time musician and the gamble paid off well when she released 'Machozi' (Tears) – a soul food to many of her music fans.

In the early 2000s, she was the first Tanzanian female artist to release a solo album and subsequently spent two busy years performing, touring and enjoying success.

After singing as a solo artist for a long time, she later decided to form her own band, Machozi, to aid live performances.

She names Whitney Houston, Monica, Lauryn Hill, Lil Kim and Dr Dre as among musicians who inspired her to venture into music.

“As a teenager, I used to listen to their songs and looked forward to becoming a star like them one day,” she recalls.

The singer, whose albums include 'Binti', 'Moto', Shukrani' and 'Ya 5', credits her mom Martha and manager Ruge Mutahaba for helping her blossom.
Some of the songs that catapulted her to fame are 'Machozi', 'Mawazo', 'Nishike Mkono', 'Tatiza', 'Pumziko', 'Uko Juu', 'Siku Hazigandi', 'Siri Yangu' and 'Usiusemee Moyo'.

Apart from winning several local and international awards, Lady Jay Dee was last year one of the nominees for Kora Awards (equivalent of the US Grammys) in the best East African artiste category.

She was pitted against Susan Kerunen, Klear Kut, Michael Ross and Blu3 from Uganda and Kenyans Nameless, Valerie Kimani and Wahu.

In 2003, Lady Jay Dee was among Africa's top artistes who performed during the Kora Awards at the Absa Stadium in Durban, South Africa.

Other performers included Congolese Rhumba superstars Tshala Muana and Mbilia Bel, Ethiopia's Tewodros Mosisa and South African stars Lebo Mathosa, Ringo, Hugh Masekela and Mafikizolo.  

Last year, Lady Jay Dee, the wife of Clouds FM presenter Gardner Habbash, joined other musicians in London to celebrate former South Africa president Nelson Mandela's birthday.

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