After dubbing himself and his band Acholi Prince, the singer-songwriter once known as Ivan Acholi Prince saw good things start to happen. Clubs that had rejected music he submitted under his former name will start booking him. Radio stations attuned to Ivan will be giving air time to his songs, and he’ll begin to attract a following. The name also had a practical value beyond branding. “9ty is really me, so even if no one else in the band shows up, we’ve got a gig,” he said in a recent interview.
Raised Northern Uganda in a family of musicians — his father and mother, like his two grandfathers and a great-grandfather, practice music — 9ty discovered his love for songwriting at the age of 15. He mostly taught himself to play the guitar, persevering despite skepticism about his voice.
In fact, he has the pitch and rhythm to carry the day, and his sophisticated lyrics, if sometimes hard to discern at high decibels, keep listeners coming back for more. One night during the Pine Avenue 5’s Christmas concert at Acholi Inn Gulu few years back, a group standing at the back (the place was swarming with well-dressed and attentive fans) yelled “Amari, Lanyani and Lalam!” demanding threw of 9ty’s best-known songs. Indeed, he gave them “Your Love,” a song that has been featured on National Public Radio and is included in the band’s latest CD, “Acholi Prince”.