Though her music is increasingly gaining popularity in the United Kingdom where she currently lives, Kenyan female singer Mistony feels she is yet to make a name for herself in East Africa.
The singer was in Kigali last week, as part of her East African tour to promote her music in the region. Real name, Jane Ikasi, Mistony was in Uganda two weeks ago before she came to Kigali to promote her music and personality before continuing to Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa in her homeland Kenya and concluding the tour in Tanzania.
The pop singer was born in Kenya and later relocated to London at the tender age of nine, where she pursued her studies.
Apart from singing, she is also a producer and choreographer, skills she says have taken her places in the UK, earning her opportunities to dance or be a backup singer for renowned international stars such as Congolese stars Koffi Olomide and Mbilia Bel, dancehall stars Elephant Man and Beenie Man, Nigerian singer Iyanya and Kenya’s Nameless among other stars.
“Thanks to dancing, I have been able to travel across the world,” says the singer.
Mistony started dancing as a College student in London where together with her band they would perform at different concerts and festivals in the UK.
She later joined ‘Adzido Pan African Dance’ group and became a full time professional dancer for the dance company with roots in Ghana and specialises in African dances.
It was at the company’s event ‘Ya Asentwa’ a Ghanaian play, where Mistony met her hero Michael Jackson when the deceased American pop star attended the event in Exeter, UK, in which she featured.
“I grew up a diehard fan of Michael Jackson and he was my inspiration to become a choreographer because I once had a dream to be the female version of the African Michael Jackson. Though I had no chance to talk to him but meeting him was a dream-come- true,” she said.
Her talent as a choreographer made her nominated at the UK Beffta Awards, and went on to win a prize as the Newcomer Afrobeat Act in 2015.
Seven yearys ago, Mistony decided to start a solo career after Koffi Olomide took her to Tanzania to back him during his music tour. He would normally book her to dance for him at different concerts across Europe, mainly in UK, Germany and Switzerland.
She recorded her first song ‘Baby’ but was afraid to release it fearing that it would be a total flop since she was known rather as a dancer, not a singer.
“I was really scared to do it because everybody already knew me as a dancer. I was afraid they would be like ‘Oh she’s a dancer, then why is she singing?’ I really panicked but, I finally decided to release it,” she explained.
Mistony perfroming at a past event. Courtesy
The song was released in 2015, three years after she recorded it and it earned a pretty good reception despite her earlier fears.
Thanks to the song, Mistony got booked for a show in Cameroon and she was impressed by the way people liked it. It was a mix of pop, Swahili and some flavor of “Soukous” which made it very danceable.
The reception she received gave her the determination to go on. She kept recording more songs and went on to get a lot of support from people in Cameroon, in Uganda, Kenya and in the UK.
Although Mistony kept dancing alongside artistes because she was getting a lot of money from it, she decided to quit dancing in 2015, having realized that the booking dates for dancing and singing were conflicting. She had to make a choice.
“I was doing everything by myself like production, video editing and preparations and because the demand to perform as a singer was increasing, I had to put an end to the dancing career,” she explained.
So far she has 17 songs under her name as she looks to launch her first album. Some of her popular songs include Kiss My, Dizzy Love, CocaCola Body and Want It All, among others.
She is currently promoting her new song ‘Body’, in East Africa with the support of her management Grandpa Records, a Kenyan record label under which she is signed.
“I travelled from London not to show how good a singer I am but to give my contribution to make East Africa stand out musically. We need to support each other and I need my people from the region including Rwanda to support me like their sister,” she said.
She said her management is in talks with two local musicians on music collaborations.