Michael Samuel Kiwanuka (born 3 May 1987) is a British soul musician who is signed to Communion Records. He has been compared to Bill Withers, Randy Newman, Terry Callier, and Otis Redding, as well as Van Morrison and the Temptations. In January 2012 he won the BBC's Sound of 2012 poll.
Kiwanuka grew up in Muswell Hill, North London, the son of Ugandan parents who had 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 has acknowledged influences from musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Bill Withers,Otis Redding,Jack Johnson, Pops Staples, The Band, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Eric Bibb, Tommy Sims, Richie Havens, and has played with James Gadson, who drummed for Bill Withers.
While filming an episode for the 39th season of Austin City Limits at the Moody Theater at ACL Live on Monday, 10 June 2013, Michael and his band played a cover of the late Townes Van Zandt's song Waiting 'Round to Die, from Van Zandt's first album, 1968's For the Sake of the Song.
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, Kentish Town. 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.
Kiwanuka supported Adele on her Adele Live 2011 tour, as well 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.