PERKASIE -- Singer, songwriter and producer Tshila appeared at the Down to Earth Cafe on September 6 starting at 6 p.m. Born and raised in Uganda, her mission is to create inspirational music as a force for positive change in the world.
“We are fortunate to have someone of Tshila’s international reputation perform live in Perkasie,” said cafe owner Ryman Maxwell, who has booked the African-born singer for every First Friday through the end of the year. “She is a dynamic artist whose music is important and relevant in today’s world.”
Tshila’s performance is part of a new family-friendly First Friday event that starts at 5 p.m. in Perkasie. Other activities include a sidewalk chalk art contest for kids, a visit by the Modern Male mobile, local vendors, shopping specials, and more.
Tshila’s unique musical style has been described as a fusion of traditional African sounds with hip-hop and poetry. Her themes address many of the social and political challenges the world faces, especially from an African woman’s perspective.
“I am truly concerned about the world that the young ones and their children will inherit,” says the 36-year-old Montgomery County resident who recently performed at Musikfest. “The motto of modern man has been self-enrichment at all costs. I see music as something that can be used to change that.”
Tshila’s music is heavily influenced by the difficult childhood she experienced growing up in Uganda. Being poor in a third-world country is very different from being poor in the United States, she says. Music was always her refuge from the harsh realities of life, she says.
“It kept my mind off how tough things were,” says Tshila.
Inspired musically by several influences, Tshila taught herself to play guitar, keyboard and African instruments as she experimented with her own sound. She self-recorded and produced her first album, "Sipping From the Nile," in 2006. The album gained recognition from music critics around the world and in 2007, Tshila was named one of the 20 best unsigned artists in the world by the BBC World Service.
And then, for nearly a decade, music took a back seat as Tshila married with plans to start a family, divorced, lived and worked in Germany for a while and finally made her way to the United States. Starting over, she went back to her core belief that “music was always meant to bring people together. During hard times, and happy times, music is there. When the world is divided, music can bring healing.”
In December 2018, Tshila released her self-recorded and self-produced album "World in Crisis." Songs on the album include thought-provoking tracks such as “The Way It Is,” a rendition of Bruce Hornsby’s 1986 lament about social complacency; “Revolution Now,” a call to emancipation from mental slavery; “Not Alone,” a song about brotherhood/sisterhood in the struggle; and “Dear God,” a revisiting of XTC’s 1986 criticism of the negative impact of religious dogma in the world.
Michael Kirkpatrick, a 1985 Pennridge High School grad who serves as Tshila’s manager, says that for music to be an effective cultural critic, the musician needs to be a courageous voice of a generation. Tshila is not shy about addressing those issues, he says.
“Today, there are controversial issues that need a way to penetrate the hearts and minds of global citizens,” he says.
Tshila says she became a musician because of politics. Social justice, climate change, and women’s issues dominate her music.
“I wanted to be an underground rapper/poet who makes social commentary,” she says. “You don’t have to be African to relate to those problems.”