In case you were wondering what was brewing with Kenya’s biggest band, the multiple award-winning group, Sauti Sol, they yesterday signed an exclusive recording agreement with Universal Music Africa (UMA), a division of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment.
The agreement will give the Kenyan Afro-Pop band, which is comprised of vocalists Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi and guitarist, Polycarp Otieno, access to UMG’s global network around the world and will allow greater opportunity for the band to reach new audiences globally, while continuing to satisfy and excite their dedicated fanbase with bold, creative campaigns that will engage a new generation of fans throughout the continent and beyond.
Sauti Sol, who have been rather silent since the release of ‘Extravaganza’ last May, released their debut studio album, ‘Mwanzo’ in 2008, followed by, ‘Sol Filosofia’ in 2011, which amassed multiple accolades. The music video for the single ‘Coming Home’ earned them the Best Music Video award at the Kisima Music Awards, as well as, the Best Fusion Artist/Group of the Year award.
The music video for the single ‘Range Rover’ was shot at an old Dutch ammunition factory in Zaandam, Netherlands, which has since become a cultural heritage site. ‘Live and Die in Afrika’, their 2015 third studio album was released for free download for 48 hours. This early Christmas present to their fans garnered 400,000 downloads in that period alone.
Having toured successfully across Africa, the US, Europe and Australia, the chart-topping band has received the recognition and respect of both their fans and the industry, taking home international awards including, BET Awards, an MTV EMA for Best African Act and MTV AFRICA Music Award (MAMA) for Best African Group.
Last year the band opened their own record label; Sol Generation Records, with the sole mission of developing and introducing new iconic live African acts. Founded on the ethos of discipline, order, passion and endurance (DOPE), it’s pitched to attract authentic songwriters and shape shifting musicians, who will pen soundtracks to peoples’ lives.
Sipho Dlamini, MD of UMG South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa enthused, “We are delighted to announce our partnership with Sauti Sol, one of the most innovative and creative groups to have broken through from Africa in recent years. Universal Music Africa is dedicated to helping the best African music talent reach new audiences around the world and we are excited to welcome them to our global UMG family. We look forward to working together with them to ensure they are able to authentically celebrate Africa through music and to help introduce their unique blend Afro-pop to new listeners everywhere.”
The four members are all university graduates, Baraza and Chimano have degrees in journalism, Savara studied commerce and finance, while Otieno boasts an actuarial science degree.
In May 2019, Nigeria’s Tiwa Savage became the first African artist to sign with Universal Music Group. A year before, the world’s leading record label bought a 70 percent stake in Kenyan record label, AI Records, giving them access to East Africa’s largest collection of music, which includes the works of Orchestra Super Mazembe, Afro 70 and Western Jazz.
A 2017 report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers projected the value of Kenya’s music industry to be worth at least 29 million dollars by 2020.
This article contains excerpts from a Sauti Sol Press Release, permitted for use on Nate’s Crest Almanac.