By Michael Kiwanuka in 2012Updated May 2021
Michael Samuel Kiwanuka (born 3 May 1987) is a British singer-songwriter and record producer who is signed with Polydor Records. His 2012 debut album, Home Again, went gold in the United Kingdom and…
Michael Samuel Kiwanuka (born 3 May 1987) is a British singer-songwriter and record producer who is signed with Polydor Records. His 2012 debut album, Home Again, went gold in the United Kingdom and his second album, Love & Hate, debuted in 2016 at number one. He has been nominated for numerous honours, including the Brit Awards, MTV Europe Music Awards, BBC Music Awards, and The Grammy Awards. In January 2012, he won the BBC's Sound of 2012, and in September 2020, he won the Mercury Prize.
Born and raised in Muswell Hill, London, Kiwanuka is the son of Michael and Deborah, Ugandan parents who escaped the Amin regime. He attended Fortismere School, leaving there in 2005 after completing his A-Levels. He went on to study at the School of Media, Arts and Design at the University of Westminster.
Kiwanuka worked as a session guitarist, playing with Chipmunk and Bashy before working as a solo artist. His first proper gig was at The Oxford in Kentish Town at age 22. He came to the attention of Communion Records, which released his first two EPs, including his debut Tell Me A Tale on 13 June 2011.
2011–2016: Home Again and Love & Hate
Kiwanuka supported Adele on her Adele Live 2011 tour, as well as at her iTunes Festival 2011 gig, and played at the 2011 Hard Rock Calling.
In 2011, he signed a deal with Polydor Records. He was included in the BBC's Sound of 2012 poll and was named as the winner on 6 January 2012. In June 2012, he was illustrated in a BBC article regarding Spain vis-à-vis Uganda during the Eurozone crisis; his putative counterpart was actress Penélope Cruz.
Kiwanuka released his debut studio album, Home Again, in 2012 to positive reviews from critics. The album peaked at number 4 in the UK and, as of 2012, has sold over 70,000 copies in the UK.
In 2016, Kiwanuka released his follow-up to Home Again, Love & Hate. The album was a critical and commercial success, reaching a peak at number 1 on the UK albums chart. The album was produced by Danger Mouse and spawned several singles.
Kiwanuka has acknowledged influences from musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Bill Withers, Otis Redding, Jack Johnson, Pops Staples, The Band, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Eric Bibb, Tommy Sims, Wham!, Richie Havens and Funkadelic. He has played with James Gadson, who drummed for Bill Withers.