African Music: Sauti Sol (Kenya)

African Music: Sauti Sol (Kenya)

Kenyan artist Sauti Sol posted a video of the US president dancing the Lipala over the weekend, and while the world applauded the president’s dance skills, African music-lovers grew goosebumps on their arms at the sweet, soulful voice of the accompanying singers.

The four-piece are made up of Bien-Aime Baraza, Willis Austin Chimano, Polycarp Otieno, the Lead guitarist and producer, Savara Mudigi. The group blends soulful voices with sweet harmonies and guitar riffs undercut by an energetic African drum rhythm. Their style is very much a modern Kenyan ‘pop’ blendedwith traditional Kenyan influences in Swahili and English.

Sauti Sol’s viral Lipala Dance was featured in the 2015 BBC’s ‘A Richer World’ season and documentary for BBC World Service Radio, World TV and also this year, BBC 1Xtra named them ‘Top African act to watch.’ Their controversial video Nishike was named by Google as the Most Watched video in Kenya 2014.

Sauti Sol have become so successful in Kenya, they have recently set up their own initiative to start giving back to their fans and country. In 2012, Sauti Sol launched the SOMA SOMA Initiative to develop a peer-to-peer mentorship culture amongst students throughout Kenya. By identifying various institutions, the group engages partners to take their message of positivity and equality to each school. So far, they have mentored 700 students and 100 teachers from Kenya’s 47 counties at the Annual Secondary Schools Student Leaders National.

Controversial song, ‘Nishike’, which is Swahili for Touch Me caused hearts to flutter and upset amongst the Kenyan pop industry with the raunchy music video which was nominated for the 2014 MTV EMA (Best Worldwide Act), and won the 2014 MTV EMA (Best African Act). We prefer their latest track, Sura Yako, which ,meand Your Face in Swahili. It is the fourth single off upcoming third album: LIVE AND DIE IN AFRIKA.

The video shows a typical Kenyan pre-wedding ceremony (called ‘ruracio’).

photo credit: Sasa Trends


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