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"We used to send our albums to the White House." Band speaks about their rise to the top on CNN

This week, ‘African Voices’ tracks some of the hottest young musical artists who are breaking ground and pushing their craft to new heights.

Sauti Sol

The programme reports from Nairobi, where ‘African Voices’ meets with one of Africa’s hottest boy bands, Sauti Sol, who are looking to create a new sound for a worldwide audience.

In recent years, Sauti Sol have created some of the continent’s biggest hits and won at the MTV Africa Music Awards, leading the Kenyan band to be propelled from their humble roots in Nairobi to performing for President Obama.

In their hometown of Nairobi, Kenya, the programme meets the members of Sauti Sol: Savara, Polycarp, Bien Aime and Chimano, who are incorporating traditional Kenyan influence with catchy songs to uplift and try to unite Africans.

The programme accompanies Sauti Sol to their very first recording studio - a basement.


Sitting the basement, Sauti Sol reflect on their humble beginnings with ‘African Voices’: “We used to sit there and hand out there and enjoy… But this is so nostalgic. On Friday evening we used to buy a bottle vodka maybe, sit there, and play until midnight.”

Aime shares how these early experiences eventually shaped the group: “We believe the magic of music comes out in jamming and fellowship so the longer we jam together the more we gel – the more ideas come on board.”

The programme learns that many of Sauti Sol’s earlier songs, including their first hit ‘Sura Yako’, were created in the very same basement. ‘Sura Yako’ featured traditional dance, the Lipala, to accompany their lively sound, which the band states expressed ‘their Africa’.

Sauti Soul explains the significance of the Lipala to ‘African Voices’: “The Lipala is done at weddings and funerals all events that have gathering of people. So we decided to put the dance in the music and we had a dance competition on Instagram.”

It was after posting the video – ‘Sura Yako’ and the Lipala went viral.


Sauti Sol tells the programme: “Even President Obama got caught up. That was the biggest moment in our careers hands down. We had been sending our albums to The White House, with no response, and then we got a chance to dance with Obama!”

Aime tells ‘African Voices’: “The feedback of President Obama was that through dance and music they have managed to improved diplomatic relations between America and Kenya.”

‘African Voices’ learns that this experience with the President eventually inspired Sauti Sol’s latest song, ‘A Chance of a Lifetime’.

The East African band have propelled into stardom on the continent, but maintaining a commitment to stay in tune with the people, and the continent they come from.

Aime tells ‘African Voices’: “We always stay hungry. We appreciate all the blessings have come our way but we always stay hungry.”


The programme also reports from South Africa, meeting opera singer Noluvuyiso Mpofu in Cape Town, before travelling tom Durban where ‘African Voices’ meets Busiswa, a dance club sensation taking poetic license with pop music.


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