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Coke Studio Africa

Tanzania     Nigeria        Kenya        Uganda

Tanzania      Nigeria      Kenya      Uganda

Coke Studio brings African artistes together
By Bill Odidi
Posted Thursday, November 7 2013 at 16:00

Malian legendary musician Salif Keita performing alongside Tanzania’s Lady Jaydee or Kenyan Miss Karun next to Central African DJ Boddhi Satva is not something seen often. More so in a television show.
But that is what Coke Studio Africa has brought to our screens. Unlike the pop music shows that have become a little too predictable, especially with the ubiquitous search for new talent; Coke Studio brings a whole different mix.
Launched in October, Coke Studio is a show consisting of live studio performances by artists from across the region, and generations, showcasing diverse styles and fussing their talents.
“This is a TV show about redefining the sounds of Africa, taking the old into the new and connecting young people with the wonderful heritage that exists on the continent,” says the producer David Sanders.
A show that sees Kenya’s Miss Karun Mungai, a former member of local group Camp Mulla, sing a beautiful hook from Ayub Ogada’s international hit “Kothbiro”. Also contributing to the song was Central African Republic producer and DJ Boddhi Satva. The performance was infused with lyrics from the song Lifeby Ghanaian - American singer Athenai.
In another episode Kasongo wa Kanema and Kenyan singer Dela performed a reworked version of the classic “Dezo Dezo” originally recorded by Fredy Ndalakasheba and made famous by Democratic Republic of Congo’s Tshala Muana.

Creative process
Coke Studio Africa brings together 24 artistes of different generations from eight countries, exploring a diversity of genres through musical experiments and fusions.
It has drawn comparisons with other shows notably Tusker Project Fame (TPF), which is currently showing, that revolves around the search for fresh talent in East Africa relying on mentors who are already experienced hands in the business.
The formats are however very distinctive. While TPF, which is now in its sixth season, is a talent search, heavy on viewer interaction to pick the future stars, the Coke show does not have an audience and doesn’t even use any presenters. It is not about seeking unknown talent; rather creating synergies between different generations of musicians.
The recording sessions are interactive giving viewers a glimpse of the creative process the musicians go through during rehearsals and behind the scene conversations.
The selected music is performed with a full band on stage. In one of the episodes legendary musician Salif Keifa gets together with Tanzanian singer Lady Jaydee who adds beautiful Swahili lyrics to the Malian’s signature song “Africa”, originally released in 1995.

Super band
Speaking in French, the Cameroonian director of music, Frank Biyong, asks Salif what language Lady Jaydee sings in and the Malian star responds the language does not matter “we must let her express herself because it the music that matters.”
Besides Keita, Coke Studio features appearances by renowned African stars like King Sunny Ade, the King of Juju music from Nigeria and Ethiopia’s Teddy Afro.
There is an exciting crop of contemporary and younger talent like outspoken Kenyan stars Octopizzo, Just a Band and Miss Karun, as well as Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP) and rapper-poet Boitumelo Tumi Molekane from South Africa, Joel Sebunjo, and Qwela from Uganda.
“It was a good connection with musicians from other parts of Africa,” says Blinky Bill, a member of Just A Band. “During the shoot we met names we have admired, like Salif Keita and Sunny Ade, but who we never thought we would ever get a chance to meet, let alone perform with.”
In one of the recordings Just a Band is paired with South Africa’s Tumi to showcase an edgy performance of “Huff and Puff” the disco flavoured dance song which also plays during the trailers promoting the show.
The musicians are accompanied by a house band which includes veteran Cameroonian guitarist and composer Biyong and Kenya’s pianist Chris Adwar to create a ‘Super band’.
“There is a tight circle of good musicians in Nairobi and so, when the first of us was called in to join the band, the word just got out to the rest,” says Adwar.
Other band members include bassist Asaph Uzele, Kato Change on guitar and percussionist Charles Obuya Owino (Chalo T). DJ Space is also part of the band.
While Adwar agrees that it is a great experience to work with reputable artists he feels that the gap between Kenyan musicians and the best in the continent is not as wide as critics imagine.
“As a band, we introduced a fresh thinking to the classic songs performed on the show and the experienced musicians responded positively to these ideas.”
This is the first season of the Africa version of the show in which the organisers aim to break barriers and unit artists from across the continent.
The 45-minute show is screened on both NTV and QTV every Saturday and also airs in Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria.    
Source:  Business Daily

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