There was a time when Kenyan artistes could not open bank accounts. They lived from hand to mouth. What was left from their little earnings was saved under pillows.
That wasn’t long ago. With the advent of a new urban showbiz culture that has been credited to Pulse, youthful artistry talents started to shine. Even though the industry is still young, major steps have been made to make sure that local musicians, actors and other players can make a living out of their art.
Award-winning gospel singer Daddy Owen, observes that although most artistes have had their moment, his music success is one thing he treasures and thanks God for.
“I have really worked hard being the only musician to have won seven awards in one year and the first gospel artiste from Kenya to win an MTV Award in the Anglophone category, not to mention the more than 28 trophies under my cap.”
Veteran comedian James Chanji aka Mshamba echoes his sentiments.
While affirming that Daddy Owen is undoubtedly one of the greatest local artistes ever, he also maintains that acts like Churchill, Sauti Sol, Papa Shirandula, Rufftone, Nameless, Kidum, Wyre, Jua Cali, Nonini have kept the Kenyan entertainment industry alive and kicking going by their consistency and lasting relevance.
He mentions the likes of Jalas, Eric Omondi and himself (Mshamba) as some of the artistes who have managed to re-invent themselves in a bid to sustain the industry.
“It takes wisdom and creativity to give your audience what they want,” says Mshamba, adding that some of the memorable moments in local showbiz include the emergence of Groove Awards that has maintained high standards making the gospel industry relevant and bigger than its secular counterpart.
Fast rising comedian Professor Hamo declares Redsan, Nameless, Jua Cali and Wahu as some of the artistes who have been consistent in maintaining required standards as far as music goes.
“The fact that they are not easily swayed by new changes but still manage to appeal to a large section of audience speaks volumes,” says Hamo, adding that the growth of local comedy from old boring stuff from Vitimbi to standup by various generations of comedians through the Churchill show that has been appreciated in Kenya and across the world is a big achievement.
New female singer Gin Ideal of Grandpa Records famed for the single Rede mentions Abass and Kenrazy as hardworking artistes who have remained relevant over the years.
“These are musicians I watched way back while still in school and still remain relevant to date,” she says, adding that the best moments in local showbiz was when singer Wahu scooped an award for Mamas — proving that local female musicians can also do well in a male dominated industry.
Timmy Dat of Welewele hit mentions CMB Prezzo, Nameless, and P-Unit as some of the biggest local artistes of our times. “They came, saw and conquered and still remain relevant.”
For him the best moments was when Prezzo single-handedly introduced swag in local music even before the word itself.
Female rapper Sossun feels that a large section of Kenyan artistes have had their moments at one point or another. “They all take credit for having contributed in the development of the local industry regardless of their contribution.”