From a young age in their native Kenya; Bien-Aime Baraza, Willis Austin Chimano, Savara Mudigi and Polycarp Otieno, the members of Kenyan afro pop group Sauti Sol, were conditioned to believe that music was a worthless pursuit. Together they fought hard against these cultural stereotypes and developed a unique confidence in their art that provides an exciting fuel for their music and live performances.
Blending warm resonant pop with traditional Kenyan influences, Sauti Sol’s meé lange of energetic rhythms have promoted the group to become one of East Africa’s most celebrated. Sauti Sol encompass the band’s mix of soulful voices with vocal harmonies, guitar riffs and drum rhythm. With two extremely successful albums in three years, this band reflects a range of musical wealth inspired by African artists including Lokua Kanza, Fadhili Williams, Daudi Kabaka, Fally Ipupa and Salif Keita to British and American artists: Coldplay and Jason Mraz.
Sauti Sol’s two albums, Mwanzo (2008) and Sol Filosofia (2011), have received high acclaim on Kenyan charts and gained international attention with shows in Africa (including their 2011 celebrated concert performance in Kenya with Ladysmith Black Mambazo), Europe and the US, as well as television appearances and various nominations. In June 2012, Sauti Sol released Sauti Sol, a self-titled EP and collaborative effort with South African avant-garde innovative rapper/producer Spoek Mathambo. A successful tour in Europe in July 2012 saw them launch the EP in Amsterdam’s MC theatre. In September 2012, the band released “Range Rover” music video, the first single from the EP. The video was shot in Hembrugterrein, Zaandam, Netherlands, inside an old ammunition factory. Its styling and concept was
by www.vandewijs.com, camera direction by www.checkmeprodukzies.com and the executive production by Penya Africa. The band is currently in the final stages of producing their anticipated third album, which is set for release in 2014.
Sauti Sol has steadily built their professional international experience. A tour through Europe in 2010 took them to Sweden where they made a television appearance and recorded their sophomore album, Sol Filosofia. In February 2012 they debuted at the Festival sur le Niger in Mali where they were performed alongside some of their African idols: Habib Koite, Salif Keita and Lokua Kanza. In March 2011, the band made their first American appearance at the South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. In 2012, they made a return to SXSW. Celebrated by a host of fans, fellow artists and bloggers as the “most entertaining” and “best dressed act” at the festival, Sauti Sol plans to return to their growing fan base in America and the diaspora. In June they performed at the Kalorvy Vary International film festival and Colours of Ostrava 2012, Czech Republic’s biggest music festival. Between Sept-Dec 2012, Sauti Sol signed with Kenya’s Niko Na Safaricom Live Tour transporting their renowned electric live performances to their fans in major towns. Sauti Sol has also performed at widely televised events including: the MTV Africa Music Awards (2014), inauguration of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta (2013), the inaugural Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards held in Nigeria (2013) and at the Big Brother Africa Reality Show in South Africa (2012). In 2013, they also headlined at Boombaataa Festival (Kenya) and City of Stars festival (Malawi). In 2014, they performed at Blankets & Wine at 50 Festival (Kenya), Zanzibar International Film Festival and in Netherland’s Eindhoven (June 2014).
Nominated as Africa’s Best Group at the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) and African Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA), in 2013 Sauti Sol received two nods at the 10th Annual Channel O Music Video Awards Nominations for the hit single, “Money Lover”. The song was nominated in the categories of Most Gifted Afro Pop Video and Most Gifted East Africa Video. Their song “Shukuru” with Tanzanian rapper AY won East Africa’s Most Gifted Music Video at CHOMVA 2012. Sauti Sol was crowned as Artist of the Year at Kenya’s inaugural Social Media (SOMA 2013) Awards. In 2012 the band also won Best Collaboration at Kenyan Chaguo La Teeniez (CHAT) Awards after bagging the Best Group Award in 2011. In 2011, they also won two Kisima Music Awards for Best Afro-Fusion Group and Best Music Video with “Coming Home”. In 2010 they received a Museke Online Africa Music Award (MOAMA) for Best Group and a nomination for Best African Newcomer at the 2010 African Music Awards (AMA).
Sauti Sol launched the SOMA SOMA Initiative (2012) that seeks to develop a peer to peer mentorship culture amongst school-goers throughout Kenya. By identifying various institutions, the group seeks to engage partners to go around to these institutions with this message. The inaugural program (2012) orchestrated by Jane and Annette of Aga Khan Academy Mombasa, focused on rallying students from various schools around Mombasa, to write messages of hope to their counterparts who were affected by the violence in the Tana delta. The campaign ran for one month culminating in a concert at which Sauti Sol performed to raise funds towards the cause after which they mentored students.
SOMA SOMA Initiative has since touched lives through various events. Sauti Sol has visited St. Patricks High School in Iten, Musku Primary School in Kerio Valley and Fluorspar Primary School in partnership with The Field Marsham Foundation (2014). They were selected as 2013 Story Moja Hay Festival’s Reading Ambassadors. The same year, they gave a talk on Careers in the Sports and Arts at Equity Group Foundation 4th Annual Education and Leadership Congress at the Kenyatta University. They have also mentored 700 students and 100 teachers from Kenya’s 47 counties at the Annual Secondary Schools Student Leaders National Congress (2013).