Coke Studio Africa consciously empowered and celebrated women this season
The 2019 edition of Coke Studio Africa has featured Africa’s greatest talents and created career breaks for many of this continent’s new acts, but what it has been most notable for is a strong commitment to empowering women involved in all aspects of the music and entertainment scene.
Coke Studio Africa consciously empowered and celebrated women in the industry this season by giving them a platform to showcase themselves. This was done on each episode – culminating in a historical season finale that featured an all-female cast, in front of the cameras and behind the scenes – recording, styling, choreographing and instruments.
Uganda’s Sheebah Karungi and Mozambique Lourena Nhate had the opportunity to remix their songs with Viola Karuri, a female producer, while 11 female musicians joined in for the power packed track “African Woman” (Yelele Mama). This amazing song represents a variety of ‘sista’-soundscapes from Zouk, Bongo Flava and Kizomba, to afrobeat, dancehall and hip hop.
It featured Mozambique’s Shellsy Baronet, Tanzania’s Nandy and Keisha alongside Mimi Mars, Kenya’s Nazizi, Namibia’s Lioness and Boity from South Africa as well as big break vocalists Nadia Mukami and Tamy Moyo of Zimbabwe. The track was produced by Viola Karuri with female studio engineer Muna.
Lourena Nhate noted the importance of this season finale in changing prevalent mindsets and Coke Studio’s support of women acts throughout the season when she said “I think it is not easy for a woman to make it in the music industry because many people still see women as housewives. So we need to be really motivated, some are luckier than others and treated well, but others are not, depending on the country they are in, but with a lot of dedication, it’s possible.”
After more than 20 years in the game, it was Coke Studio Africa that finally made Kenyan hip hop legend Nazizi feel like it had all been worth it. “It got tiring being the only woman backstage, the only woman in the battles and cyphers,” She said on the Coke Studio Africa couch, “I was trying to think back to my day, and if I had anybody to inspire me as an African female rapper.” On Coke Studio Africa she finally saw that times had changed when she recorded with Boity and Lioness. “It’s nice for me to sit back and watch and see other female MC’s coming up.”
Mother, Politician and singer Keisha, from Tanzania, was thrilled to appear on two songs in the season finale, “African Woman” and a Viola remix of her 2013 collabo with Diamond Platnumz “Nimechoka”. “I am so grateful to Coke Studio Africa. Working with a group of female musicians made me so happy, we connected, we understood each other and we knew what each other wanted, it has been a very good experience for me.”
Kenyan percussionist Kasiva has been a constant throughout the show’s recording sessions and live performances. She sees Coke Studio Africa as “A really important project for female artists, it is a huge brand with a massive viewership, so this just gives women a stage to be seen and a stage to be known and to express themselves musically. This season has been really special because we have had more women band members than ever. This is one of the biggest stages for people to see African females killing it and think, ‘Hey women can do this, this is a decent job, it’s a serious career option and it’s ok for women to be musicians.’
This season finale of Coke Studio Africa has shown how a dedication to empowering females across the continent’s music industry is not a hard task at all, and doing so can create not only wonderful music but also an important shift in the scene and society as a whole.