Apio ‘Moro’ Lillian

It very easy to write Apio Moro off, in fact, it’s easy to imagine Apio writes herself off very many times; she’s different, dresses differently and it seems she has refused to learnt how to fit in, she just lives with the direction of her wind.

The very first time many see her, they’ve not imagined she owns even half of her talent – in fact, things only change when she grabs a guitar and starts singing.

She was born Apio Lilian Samantha, though she adopted the Moro moniker to differentiate herself – “Any girl can be Lillian or Samantha,” that’s why she adopted ‘Moro’ which means ‘Some’ thus when you mention her Apio Moro name you will be saying ‘Some Apio’. 

Hailing from Jinja, Apio is a Neo-Soul artiste that could be the definition of the Kampala music hustle – going from different talent search shows and joining a music group, twice.

Like many Ugandan stories, Apio didn’t get a lot of family support when she chose music over other possible professions, but she somehow followed her wind and ended up on a televised singing competition.

“I auditioned for Coke Rated Next and I was selected.” 

But the demands of a mainstream industry would soon catch up with her on the show; most of the songs they would select for her were in Luganda, a language she barely spoke, she was eliminated in the top ten.

Without giving up, she auditioned for NTV’s Talent XP and the second season of Coke Rated Next but she didn’t win any of the seasons.

But it was at that time that the managers of Obsessions Africa, one of Uganda’s oldest music, dance and drama troupe approached her to join the group that was planning a comeback after a nearly six year hiatus.

Apio didn’t spend a lot of time with The Obsessions as they usually fell out on creative basis, she called it quits at the group before bouncing back and eventually leaving for good.

“I remember one of the people at Obsessions telling me; You have too much talent and too much disorganization in your head.”

She went back home to Jinja and that’s where an uncle of her connected her to a Nairobi producer that was looking for a little known Ugandan singer to put on an Amos and Josh record.

“While in Kenya, I imagine the producer was disappointed, he said he wanted me to record, eat some rice and put me on a bus back to Kampala, he didn’t expect much,” she says.

It’s only when she stood into the recording booth that he had to step up to see if it was really her singing – the result was Kupe. A song whose video she would go back to shoot months later.

Like the producer, many misunderstand Apio, she confesses that some people think she’s a dancer because of the way she dresses, and others think she’s too rough on the edges.

Last year, thanks to the stint with Amos and Josh, Apio started putting together what will become her debut album at Johari Cleff one of the oldest production houses in Nairobi.

She notes that the thirteen truck album is mostly made up of songs about her life, but even when the songs are ready, the confused Apio is yet to title it.

Ajok, is the most loved song so far, having performed it at Pearl Rhythm Festival activations various times and of course getting a lot of love for it.

Ajok means ‘I'm fed up’,” she says adding that she wrote the song about her past relationship but was polite enough to send the song to the person that inspired it to have a first listen.

The year is already bright for Apio, at the end of March, she was one of the contestants that made it for the annual Pearl Rhythm Stage coach workshop in Kampala and even before she could let that sink in, she was announced as a performer at the next edition of Blankets and Wine.

“Was home with a hangover when someone from Blankets and Wine called, she said she was Flower.”

“It took some time for me to take it in since I’ve never attended the show, I thought they were more into very commercial artistes.” 

Apio says that she wants to bring everything to the Blankets and Wine stage – the craziness, music and even the little dancing she knows;

“I don’t know what people that come for Blankets and Wine may want but I will do my thing.”


 Listen to her music: https://soundcloud.com/apiolilly