When he received an email from organisers inviting him to the Coke Studio Africa 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya, local R&B singer Bruce Melodie thought it was a prank. It seemed too good to be true.
He had tried to apply for Coke Studio many times before but his efforts were fruitless. Melodie says at some point he just gave up and started thinking of something he could do on his own, not Coke Studio.
“After receiving an email from the organisers I was very excited because it’s something I had always wanted to be a part of. But I had doubts and asked myself; is it me? It’s until they sent me an air ticket and hotel reservations that I started to believe.”
The singer, born Bruce Itahiwacu, has got every reason to be excited. For starters, it’s the first time ever that a Rwandan musician is featuring in the non-competitive music collaboration show.
Coke Studio Africa seeks to bring together and celebrate the diversity of African music and talent by giving a platform to upcoming artistes to work with some of the biggest local and international musicians and producers. It brings together artistes from different genres, eras and regions to create a modern and authentic African sound through musical fusion.
This year’s edition is not only unique and special, but also bigger and better, after merging Coke Studio Africa and Coke Studio South Africa.
With the merger, the number of participating countries is now sixteen, up from 11 in last year’s edition.
This season will be broadcast in more than 30 countries across Africa. Participating artists have been drawn from Rwanda, South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Togo, Madagascar, Mauritius, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, DR Congo, Ethiopia, and Cameroon. The previous edition featured Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, DRC, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Cote d’ Ivoire and Togo, whilst South Africa had its own production.
American singer, songwriter and dancer Jason Derulo is this year’s guest musician. He will feature in a special edition themed the Global Fusion Edition. Derulo is better known for hits like Wiggle, Whatcha Say, Talk Dirty, It Girl, In My Head, Trumpets, and Marry Me.
Asked for his impressions about Coke Studio Africa 2017 Melodie.
“When I was there I tried to raise Rwanda’s flag high in all ways possible because everything is recorded while in there. There were four different artists performing every week. When it was my turn at the weekly performances I got really worn out because I would wake up at 5:30 am and got to bed at 1:00 am.”
He also had the opportunity to meet rappers Khaligraph Jones from Kenya, Slap D from South Africa and Nandy from Tanzania. He did a collabo with Kenya’s Khaligraph Jones, and plans to return to Kenya soon for a video shoot.
“Everyone was smart and talented. I have a good listening ear, but I found that everyone there was just as smart. They did their job so well and, unlike me, many were already used to the busy routine. In the end I realized there was no small star and big star. Every artist is a star in their own way. I didn’t think I was the best but also I knew I wasn’t the worst,” said Melodie.
“I learnt that when you’re confident and hopeful everything is possible.”
“Music is the heartbeat and the soul of many diverse communities throughout Africa. From Bongo, to Kwaito, to Lingala and other genres across Africa, Coke Studio Africa is helping introduce these different musical styles to new communities for the first time, while maintaining a long tradition of Coca-Cola’s use of music to build its brands,” said Monali Shah, the Senior Content Excellence Manager for Coca-Cola Southern and East African Business Unit and Coke Studio Africa Project Director.
Musicians gracing this season of Coke Studio Africa include Bruce Melodie from Rwanda, Khaligraph Jones and Band Becca from Kenya, Rayvanny, Izzo Bizness and Nandy from Tanzania, Sami Dan from Ethiopia, Bebe Cool, Eddy Kenzo, Sheebah and Ykee Benda from Uganda, Nasty C, Busiswa and Mashayabhuqe from South Africa, Youssoupha from Democratic Republic of Congo, and Runtown and Yemi representing Nigeria.
Others are Dji Tafinha from Angola, Laura Beg from Mauritius, Jah Prayzah and Slapdee from Central Africa Republic, Bisa Kdei and Worlasi from Ghana, Betty G from Ethiopia, Shellsy Baronet and Mr. Bow from Mozambique, Denise from Madagascar, Ozane from Togo, and Freeda from Namibia.
This year’s production also brings in reputable producers like Yuvir Pillay Nivedan aka Sketchy Bongo from South Africa, Kiff No beat from Ivory Coast, and Nahreel from Tanzania, among others.
Coke Studio Africa 2017 is expected to air from August in South and Central Africa, and from September onwards in East and West Africa.