OPINION: Name a Kenyan Female Performer Who Match Yemi Alade

by Olave Orawo

2019 closed with Nandy as the only female entertainer ranked in the Top 5 on Mdundo. This ranking is purely determined by downloads, meaning this reflects strongly on what we are listening to. This continues to add weight to the question ‘Is there a single Female artist that Kenya can front as a remarkable performer?’

As I kept throwing this question at random people throughout the year, I noticed a strong hesitation with most settling for the mainstream names Avril, Vivian, Nadia. Those with a little inclination towards alternative music named the greats Atemi, Ivlyn Mutua, Dela. There is no doubt these are extremely talented artists, however there is a big BUT…

Once a further enquiry is made; ‘Do you feel like these acts can put up a performance alongside the likes of Yemi Alade or Beyonce?’ the last trail of hope is then lost. Vocally, we seem to have the best of what the planet can offer, but on stage, the rest of the package is lost. 

A dilemma affecting most artists in Kenya and not just the female ones, is having to do music as a side hustle or hobby. This we cannot entirely blame on the artists but also the policies governing art in the country. Music does not earn a stable income and after much frustration, most artists choose to look for alternative stable income earners. 

We however notice a decline in female artist motivation as time goes by. They could be hits at the beginning of the year and nowhere to be seen as the year draws to a close. Give them years and their legacy is slowly but thoroughly wiped off existence.

Now back to live performance and an alive one for the matter; a female artist that comes close to an electrifying performer is the boss lady Akothee. She has mastered the art of singing, choreography and engaging the audience all at once. She radiates energy. Size 8 was also a good match in the beginning of her career. 

My observation leans towards us concentrating only on vocal training  for musicians. This means artists are limited to sounding great on record and therefore having to rely on playback during live performances. The lack of all round training robs audiences of a strong intimate connection with really good artists.

It also takes discipline to show up and show off everyday until you can dance, sing , hype and contaminate your audience with your energy. Artists need to put in work and 24/7, 365 days a year. We have seen this how Willy Paul and Diamond Platnumz step on stage and bring the house down. Who of our queens is up for the challenge? 

We have discovered this type of potential is women like TPF finalist Amileena. Problem is, are we lacking in training and experience? If so, then who is training Willy Paul? Should we just accept that we are not as aggressive? 

Question remains, if today we were to front a female artist in Kenya to take on Yemi Alade live on stage, who would match up? 

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