Sauti Sol–The Most Successful Male Band in Kenya
Music is one of the greatest art forms out there. It helps to uplift low spirits, express feelings of love, offer words of encouragement and send other types of thoughtful messages. I listen to all sorts of music from different parts of the world, but one of my favorites is Afro pop. And, one of the most famous Afro pop acts is the Sauti Sol band from Kenya.
Sauti Sol is an exceptional Afro pop group that has won numerous awards over the years for their creativity, talent and hard work. The band was created in Nairobi, Kenya and is made up of four members: Bien-Aime Baraza, Willis Austin Chimano, Savara Mudigi and Polycarp Otieno. Bien, Chimano and Savara had met each other while attending the same high school and sang in the school’s music group. The three men met Polycarp later at the Alliance Francaise (a French language school) in Nairobi. “Sauti” is the Swahili word for voice.
Sauti Sol "Short N Sweet" Video
Sauti Sol’s Discography
The first debut studio album release from Sauti Sol was “Mwanzo” in 2008, which received a positive response from fellow Kenyans. Three years later, the award winning afro pop group released “Sol Filosofia” as their second studio album, which won them several accolades and nominations.
In June 2012, Sauti Sol went ahead to grace their fans with a self-titled extended play (EP) in collaboration with Spoek Mathambo (a rapper and record producer from South Africa). The EP’s lead single was “Range Rover” and its video was shot in the Netherlands. Another Sauti Sol track (“Slow”) featuring Mathambo and Kenyan songstress, Dela, was shot in Amsterdam.
In addition, the afro pop group released an attention-grabbing song called “Nishike”. The steamy content in the song’s video caused it to be banned from local TV stations.
A third Sauti Sol studio album was released in November 2015 under the title, “Live and Die and Afrika”. The album was availed online and fans could download it for free for 2 days as an early Christmas gift.
The band’s work has led them to receiving high acclaim on local charts in Kenya and gaining international attention. The former US President, Barack Obama (who also has roots in Kenya) once mentioned that Sauti Sol’s song, “Sura Yako” had influenced the pop culture in America.
Sauti Sol’s forth studio album was released in 2019 under the name of “Afrikan Sauce”. The track showcased a departure from the group’s previous acoustic sound, and featured guest appearances from the following artists:
- Bebe Cool from Uganda
- Burna Boy from Nigeria
- C4 Predo from Angola
- Jah Prayzah from Zimbabwe
- Khaligraph Jones from Kenya
- Mi Casa from South Africa
- Nyashinski from Kenya
- Patoranking from Nigeria
- Tiwa Savage from Nigeria
- Vanessa Mdee from Tanzania
- Yemi Alade from Nigeria
The “Afrikan Sauce” album consisted of 13 songs and was backed by previously released singles, namely “Short N Sweet”, “Melanin”, “African Star”, “Tujiangalie” and “Girl Next Door”.
Sauti Sol "Suzanna" Video
On 7 February 2020, Sauti Sol released the single, “Suzanna”, which talks about the controversial anomaly of women being sponsored by older men in return for romantic favors. “Suzanna” is the band’s first single under their new record deal with Universal Music Group. The accompanying music video was captured in Nigeria and follows a 70s disco ball theme.
In addition, one of Sauti Sol's song was featured as the soundtrack for "Queen Sono" in February 2020. "Queen Sono" is the first African Original Netflix series.
On 17 April 2020, Sauti Sol released "Brighter Days", which is the third single of the album "Midnight Train". They collaborated with a South African choir in the uplifting song that talks about brighter days ahead after the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Sauti Sol Soundtrack in "Queen of Sono"
The following are some of the awards that Sauti Sol has gotten during their illustrious career:
- Museke Online Africa Music Award for the Best Group in 2010
- Two Kisima Music Awards for the Best Fusion Artist or Group of the Year, and Best Music Video for their track “Coming Home” from the album “Sol Filosofia”
- MTV Europe Music Award for Best African Act in 2014
- Google Recognition for Most Watched Music Video on YouTube (in Kenya) in 2014 for “Nishike”
- Channel O Music Video Award for Most Gifted East African Video in 2012 for the song “I Don’t Want to Be Alone”
- Kilimanjaro Tanzania Music Award for the Best Song in East Africa in 2015 for “Sura Yako”
Sauti Sol "Brighter Days" Video
Biography of Sauti Sol Members
If you’re interested in knowing more about each member of the Sauti Sol band, read on below. It’s interesting to know that all the band members were born in the same year, with Bien-Aime Baraza being the youngest and Savara Mudigi being the oldest. Belonging to the same age group is probably why the artists have managed to stay together for more than thirteen years.
1. Bien-Aime Baraza
Born on 28 December 1987, Bien is a talented songwriter, guitarist and vocalist. He is the most outspoken Sauti Sol member and possesses a degree in Journalism and Media Studies from the United States International University. Apart from being a Sauti Sol member, Bien has also written for artists such as Wendy Kimani, and Amos & Josh. The musician’s tall height, toned abs and astounding vocals have for the longest time made girls go crazy for him. So, many were disappointed when the gifted musician proposed to his girlfriend Chiki Kuruka, who is a dance fitness enthusiast and model, in 2019. They tied the knot on 6 March 2020 in a private wedding ceremony.
2. Willis Austin Chimano
He is a vocalist, keytar player, performer, and saxophonist, and was born on 9 July 1987. Before the creation of the Sauti Sol group, Chimano participated in a music contest at the French Cultural Centre and won. Additionally, the talented artist visited Paris for two weeks to sample music translations, and holds a Journalism and Media Studies degree from the University of Nairobi.
3. Savara Mudigi
Sauti Sol’s Savara Mudigi was born on May 25, 1987. He is a bass guitarist, producer, drum player and vocalist. In collaboration with Polycarp Otieno, Savara produced a majority of the songs on the “Live and Die in Afrika” album. The gifted vocalist has also worked alongside Elani (a famous Kenyan band) and has networked with well-known Disk Jockeys and international producers.
4. Polycarp Otieno
Polycarp was born on 14 November 1987, and serves as an arranger, songwriter, guitarist and producer on the Sauti Sol band. He received free lessons on playing guitar at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. During the lessons he discovered his adoration for guitar, and continued to play even after the classes ended. In addition to guitar, Polycarp also learned French at the French Language Centre and attained an Actuarial Science degree from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture. He is currently married to a Burundian fashion stylist, Amanda, who is popularly called Lady Mandy.
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© 2020 Alice Njambi