Coke Studio Africa launched in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania in October, sparking a proud, colorful celebration of the continent’s rich musical heritage.
Coke Studio debuted in Brazil in 2007 and was adapted a year later in Pakistan, which pioneered the musical fusion concept that has reshaped popular culture in the country and inspired an international franchise. The innovative format has since been scaled to India, the Middle East and, now, Africa.
Journalists, celebrities and fans packed the four launch venues to meet part of the lineup of musicians who will collaborate on Coke Studio Africa. The live performance TV program will feature 24 artists from eight countries, representing different eras and genres. Season one will include eight 45-minute episodes and a two-hour finale on New Year’s Eve.
Kicking off in Nairobi, Kenya, the event began by paying tribute to the victims of the Westgate terror attack, which took place just 10 days before the launch. Guests were treated to an exclusive premiere of the show at Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa (CEWA) headquarters, where renowned local and regional artists joined them for a sneak peek at what’s being billed as Africa’s biggest music show to date.
David Sanders, the show’s executive producer, said Coke Studio will bridge the gap between today’s hottest artists and timeless icons by bringing them together through a fusion of music created to appeal to young fans.
“Coke Studio is very different because it's original,” Sanders said. “One of the things we wanted to do was bring together old and new music and put it in such a way that whether it's music your parents listened to or something newer, it can be listened to. We're fusing folk and hip hop, rock and benga, to create beautiful music.
He continued, “We want yesterday’s music icons such as Salif Keita from Mali and Youssou N'dour from Senegal to reach a younger audience. Coke Studio has the ability to connect the youth with those African music giants, and we're very pleased with the fact that they decided to work with us.”
The show was taken to Lagos, Nigeria; Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania and Kampala, Uganda introducing to the audiences the groundbreaking sound and concept.
Featured on the show is a line-up unlike any ever seen on a single stage or platform in Africa (or indeed the world) before, including King Sunny Ade, MI, Waje, Jimmy Jatt and Bez from Nigeria; Salif Keita from Mali; Octopizzo, Miss Karun and Just a Band from Kenya; Hip Hop Pantsula and Tumi from South Africa; Boddhi Satva from the Central African Republic; Diamond Platinumz and Lady Jay Dee from Tanzania; the Culture Music Club of Zanzibar and Joel Sebunjo, Qwela and Lillian Mbabazi from Uganda.
Coke Studio Africa Project Manager Otome Oyo identified the music fusion project as an avenue for Coca-Cola to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Africa.
“At Coca-Cola, we appreciate the power that music has to bring people together regardless of race, language, religion and region. Through Coke Studio, we have the rare opportunity to not only bring Africa’s artists together, but also create a modern sound that will appeal to today’s young generation,” Oyo said. “We hope to give audiences an unforgettable experience of musical fusion as we strengthen our relationship with our core target consumers.”
Coke Studio Africa provides both entertainment and a means of connecting consumers to the brand, while at the same time providing a platform for artists to learn from each other, exchange ideas and collaborate outside of the show.
“I like what the young artists are doing, but I'd like to advise them to practice more and make music that can withstand time, not last for three months,” said Kassongo, a Kenyan/Congolese musician whose band, Orchestra Super Mazembe, was a signature act of Kenya’s golden era of music in the mid-1970s to early 80s. “Soon, Africa will be equated to music. So don't forget your individuality. Keep your style. Mix it up with modern sounds, but don't forget your (African) sounds.”
Kenya’s newest rapper, Octopizzo, explained how the show changed his initial opinion of Nigerian music (which is big in Kenya): “I wasn't a big fan of Nigerian music because they invaded our space, but working with a Nigerian artist was huge for me because it broadened my mind and gave me an opportunity to experience a different genre,” he said.
Fans who were lucky enough to attend the launch events tapped their feet and nodded their heads to the music, proving that music really does bring people together regardless of nationality, language or age. “Coke Studio Africa is going to be great,” exclained Ernest Bazanye, a Uganda-based blogger. “Nigerian rapper MI performed with South African rapper HHP and a band and it was the finest rap performance I had ever seen… You need to watch this show.”
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