Promoting African music collaborations

Saturday November 23 2013

Uganda’s Qwela Band performs with West African artiste,

Uganda’s Qwela Band performs with West African artiste, Dela (R) at the Coke Studio Africa. Courtesy PHOTO 

By Edgar R. Batte

Fusion and collaboration are Coke Studio Africa’s biggest achievements for African music stars. Talking about his experience at the studio, Joe Kahirimbanyi, the leader of Qwela Band, gives promising insights and spells out opportunities this reality television music show is offering artistes like him. Qwela is one of the bands that have performed at the studio.

First time in Africa
“This is the first time it has been shown in Africa but it has been highly rated in Asia,” he says.

Some of the artistes who have featured on the Coke Studio Africa project include music legends like Salif Keita from Mali and King Sunny Ade from Nigeria.
In there are also hip hop rappers, deejays, Rhythm and Blues crooners, pop artistes, among other genre performers.

It is a spontaneous experience. “With Coke Studio you never know what to expect. The beauty is each musician sings or raps in their style, language and genre and it is brought together by Franck Biyong of Cameroon, the producer of the show,” he adds.

Any artiste that has set foot in there marvels at the amazing ensemble of the house band which features Chris Adwar of Villagers Band, one of Nairobi’s top kept music secrets.

And the African artistes stand to benefit a lot by being part of this projects, as Kahirimbanyi explains.

“The biggest benefit of Coke Studio Africa is the exposure. This is a series aired all over Africa, featuring the cream of African musicians from different countries. We made contacts and friends all over the continent. Our vision was deepened, and now we have fans from all over the continent.”

He adds, “The experience was awesome. We were dined and chauffeured around like real stars. We worked with a serious crew of world class professionals. The week we were there was the week the top bosses from Coke International Worldwide were visiting the set. We got to meet them and shared our music. The trip was fun and of course, we got paid as well.”

But this is not an opportunity any artiste will easily land.
“David Sanders, the top boss of Mandala television gave me a surprise call one day and told me he had been following Qwela quite keenly on the news and in social networks and he liked what we were doing. I shared this with the rest of the band and we had no doubt we wanted to do this,” Kahirimbanyi adds.

The experience was exhilarating and for the musicians, it was a whole week of doing nothing but having fun as they created and made music. There was a complimenting environment of a good crew.

In there was Sanders, who Kahirimbanyi describes as one of the most animated and most enthusiastic humans he has met.

And a Ugandan star will be star stuck by top names like Waje from Nigeria, Salif Keita, Dela from Kenya. Lillian Mbabazi and Joel Sebunjo are the other Ugandan artistes who have participated on the Coke Studio Africa project.

About the studio
What it is. Coke Studio Africa is a music television series produced by the Coca-Cola Company featuring live studio-recorded music performances by various artistes. The music show brings together artistes from different genres, eras and regions to create a modern and authentic sound through musical fusion.

Purpose. The purpose of Coke Studio is to reinvent the way music can capture the spirit of a nation, opening hearts and minds, and of course, happiness.

Coverage. The show airs in Kenya, Uganda (NTV), Tanzania and Nigeria. Each episode showcases unexpected fusions by various artistes as well as a behind-the-scenes look into their interactions and experiences on set.

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