There has never been a better time for culture lovers in Nairobi than now. A few years ago, the nightlife scene was devoid of cultural expressions even as the Nairobi business district and Westlands area transformed to discos streets at night.
Festivals were far and in-between with most just happening on major public holidays.
So much has since changed.
There are now festivals for virtually anything you can think of. The other day I was joking with fellow tweeps online on how there is a Pizza, burger, food, festivals and wondering if someone will think of an Ugali festival
Music festivals have sprung up as much as other cultural & food festivals with the major and most consistent ones being the Blankets & Wine, Koroga and Safaricom festivals.
Amidst all these music festivals, lovers of Soul RnB have not had a consistent event ever since Tusker Lite halted the Tusker Experience events. It is through this Experience that Kenyan Soul lovers got to watch artists such as Erykah Badu, Anthony Hamilton, Joe Thomas and Donell Jones live in performance. The last concert was in 2013 featuring Anthony Hamilton.
Joss Stone Concert on 26th November
Joss Stone will be in Nairobi next week for a concert at Purdy Arms on Saturday 26th of November from 3pm. Joss will be joined by a stellar line-up of Kenyan musicians including Tetu Shani, Labdi Ommes, Janice Iche, Tha Movement and the Kaya Collective. Joss will be the 2nd British Soul artist after Omar, to perform in Nairobi.
Stone’s concert is being organised by Bad Mambo – an event management and promotions company. They regularly organise events in Nairobi involving local and international music acts including hosting cinema screenings, art exhibitions, market days and pop-up parties.
Kenyan Soul Lovers and the term ‘Neo Soul’
Although the term ‘Neo-Soul‘ has always been a controversial one among artists labeled as such and also among a cross section of music lovers, this particular genre has gained popularity among Kenyans. This can be attributed to the exposure given to this genre by Capital FM since its launch. It was the first ever radio station to prominently feature this Neo Soul through the syndicated weekly show ‘The Soul Lounge’ by Terry Bello.
Although the station no longer has the same dedication it once had in introducing its listeners to new artists in this genre, it did manage to inculcate a love for what most now term as a more soulful RnB that has depth in its lyricism unlike the more known genre, RnB.
There has often been criticism that the Less Soulful RnB or just simply RnB has been reduced to shallow interpretations of love, relationships and intimacy hence the need, mostly by music marketers, to distinguish between the two.
Soul RnB’s music’s influence on African Artists
In Africa, Soul RnB has found a breeding ground in many young contemporary artists, some of a mixed heritage who then fuse it with African musical influences & language elements to produce what is often referred to as Afro-Soul or Urban Soul.
A while back I shared a list of 15 such artists from Kenya and another list of 10 African artists in this genre. More have since come up. Artists such as Ayrosh, Kwame, Tetu Shani, Pascal Tokodi from Kenya, Afro’traction and The Soil from S.A, and Lindsey Abudei from Nigeria are just a few among new artists coming from Africa with music that blends elements of Soul RnB and African sounds.
When I first heard Joss Stone’s Super Duper Love, from her first album -Soul Sessions, I was simply blown away. In a genre created and defined by African American artists ( the sound that we refer to now as Motown sound), It was amazing to hear Joss Stone, an English singer, her voice so soulful, spin our stereotype on ” those known to sign this type of music” on its head.
The Motown & Soul Influence
It is without a doubt that Motown had quite a strong influence on Stone from a very young age. At just thirteen years old, she went for her first audition at the BBC TV talent show singing Aretha Franklin’s “You make me feel like a natural woman“.
She has since gone on to do various cover versions of 60s Soul music artist such as Sugar Billy’s 1974 song “Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin’ on Me)“. which appeared in her first album, Ray Charles‘s 1958 song “Night Time Is the Right Time” , Otis Redding‘s 1966 song “Try a Little Tenderness” and Patti LaBelle‘s 1985 song “Stir It Up” among others in some of her seven albums.
Water for your Soul
>Her latest album ‘Water for your Soul’ released last year is a Reggae album with a deep fusion of Hip hop and roots reggae. She self-produced it together with Damian Marley. The first song from this album ‘Stuck on You’ has a more Indian feel to it with the Sitar instrument and the drums defining a very eclectic Indian beat. My favorite from this album is ‘The Answer‘ in which she sings to a very strong hip hop beat. The video is equally as good.and
Will it be a Reggae jam Session in Nairobi?
With Joss Stone, like most similarly eclectic artists in this genre, there is no telling what her fans in Nairobi will be treated to. The only thing we can safely predict is that she will be barefoot when performing. As for the rest, let’s just be prepared to be amazed.