AFRICA: BLUE PRINT TO MUSIC SUCCESS?
By Ann Nyambura, published on 23 Jun 2020
Last week I had the task of coming up with an infomercial of 10 most successful African artistes and boooo…y was it hard. Do you have any idea how many thousands, no, millions of musicians there are in Africa? Have you listened to the different genres of music on the continent? Let’s forget about the common genres like Hip Hop, Rock, RnB, Reggae and Afro-Pop. I am speaking of deep-rooted beats and tunes such as Mbalax, Soukous, Benga and Bongo flava to mention a few so that you don’t end up confused and all. Ha! mind blowing right? I am sure you have never heard some these genres. But I do know you have heard of African artists such as Kofi Olomide, Salif Keita and Youssou N’dour.
So, what makes one a successful artiste? Is it the number of hit songs they have, their social media following, their awards and nominations, the numbers of collaborations, signed labels or even the number of albums they have?
With all this in mind and the list of names to be dissected to 10 I got a little confused or let me say overwhelmed for the lack of a better word. I am a 90’s kid, a proper generation Z if you will, so my taste in music is quite urban, limited to what I have grown up listening to. This means my list would have consisted of mostly the “Newbies”. To complete this assignment, I decided to go the old school way. I verbally, one on one asked my colleagues who they thought were successful African artiste. I got quite a few repeated names here and there and with this information on my shoulder I went to my friend google and got to work. I must say this was an interesting exercise. But some of my colleagues really need to check their taste in music. Sorry guys.
As a universal language music brings us together, it lifts our spirits and lets us get the grove on. As a continent we have seen music do the most for us. Let’s go global for a second, do you know why we get a world cup theme song? If you don’t know the answer to this, Google is your friend. And do you remember when artist all over the world come together to produce “we are the world” in support to Ethiopia during the 1983-1985 famine? This was a heart-breaking time but we came together and achieved greatness through music. I remember as a kid singing along to “we are the world" unbothered of its rich inspiration. Years later, I understand the impact of the message on this song that made a kid like me sing along years after it was produced.
Just recently we had the Africa Day concert
where we yet again came together as a people to help African countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. So yes, this is me briefly trying to explain how important music is.
So, what about this artiste who create your favourite tunes? Are they considered the most successful? Is their impact on the community a measurement of their success? Take Sauti Sol for instance they are a boy band from Kenya. In 2012 they started the Soma Soma initiative to advocate for education for all youth in Kenya and Africa at lager. Does it mean they are a success for doing this? While with all honesty this boy band is one of the most successful group in Kenya and Africa for many more reasons and not just because of their social works.
Angelique Kidjo of Benin is a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador who advocates for girls' education and has made that a focus of her UNICEF partnership. Does this mean she is automatically a successful artiste?
What I am really driving at is that most artiste have done different things outside their artistry. Do we consider this a part of their success in the industry? Also does it mean you are a success for getting nominations and winning awards on international platforms? If you ask me yes it does. But does it make you the most successful? probably not. So, what is the blue print to identifying the most successful African artiste?
Let’s take a minute and think about it Hhhmn…shall we? I have thought about it and there is no clear blue print on how to identify the most successful artist. It is a simple mix of everything, from who they are, what they have
accomplished and their impact in the music industry.
So, who would you consider the most successful African artist? Check out my infomercial on ten most successful African artiste on our social media handles.
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This is a really nice blog. I love it.