The last one year has been a whirlwind in the career of singer, songwriter and producer Seroney after signing a deal with global music giant Universal Music and releasing his debut album Am a Star.
The success of the fast-rising artist is the culmination of a decade in the music business, most of which was spent recording and performing for the sheer love of it, before being signed to a major deal.
“I just stuck to the script of making quality music and being real to my craft and that is how I built my audience,” says Seroney who is also a film and video director.
“I have been able to release music consistently and my career is now on the right trajectory.”
The artist whose official name is Benjamin Kiprotich Seroney and turns 35 in February, says he does not want to be boxed into a specific genre so his style is a blend of Afropop, R&B, and dancehall.
He explains the title of the 11-track album: “Over the years as an artist I have struggled with mental health issues. I never believed in myself and eventually, I was like “you know what! I am a star and I can actually produce quality music.”
Music has always provided an escape for Seroney who as a high school student, discovered similarities in the patterns of Jamaican dancehall and African rhythms.
He would sneak into the school computer lab to create beats overnight along with his friend the producer Victor Mutungi.
Seroney would then take the beats to a studio and record vocals during school holidays.
Years later, the two friends produced Seroney’s debut single Shuga, a feel-good dance anthem that set him on the path to pursue his dream in music.
Meanwhile, he completed his studies in law at Moi University graduating in 2012.
While at university, his passion for music remained strong as he wrote and recorded music at every opportunity.
Shuga was released in 2015 accompanied by a music video that was shot in Machakos where he had spent his childhood, followed by Sweet Potato (2015), and Friday (2016).
In March 2022 he inked a deal with Universal Music Kenya for the marketing and distribution of his music beginning with his debut album Am a Star.
“We believe this is symbiotically important to the label and the artist at his level of professionalism, but his talent also needs to be shared with the rest of the world,” says John Andrews, Universal Music Kenya General Manager.
The album kicks off with Summer Time which as the title suggests is about having fun and enjoying the cool breeze by the beach.
That sets the mood for Party Don’t Stop, Wiggle featuring Masauti and Extray whose video is a hit on YouTube, Fiesta, and Whine It.
The tempo changes to the sleek R&B of Nobody, Pick Up the Phone before the atmosphere picks up again with Banana.
The album closes out with the title track, showcasing Seroney’s vocal ability over a reggae rhythm flavoured with a sax melody.
“This is a moment that I have worked towards for so long. I am humbled and greatly honoured to have been able to complete this amazing project in which I collaborated with some of Kenya’s best recording artists and producers. It feels like the beginning of great things yet to happen,” says Seroney.
The album was officially launched during the Am a Star Live Experience in December 2022 with Seroney, accompanied by a live band, showcasing songs from the album.
“Opportunities are opening up with the investment in Kenya by music streaming platforms, major labels like Universal Music and even Netflix who are producing content which requires African music,” he says.
“Now is the best time to be in the music business,” he says.
“If my music can make people happy and create positive vibes that’s my biggest inspiration. Sometimes it comes as a love song, sometimes it comes as a party song, it could be a sad song, it is always positive energy.”
Seroney draws inspiration from Kenyan icons like Them Mushrooms, Kelly Brown and Slim Ali, some of whose songs he is sampling for his next project.
“We must learn from the success of Nigerians who have turned their classic rhythms into today’s Afrobeats and Afropop,” he says “I am going to stop saying “we should do it” and I am just going to do it.”
“The driving force is putting Kenyan music on the map, so until we get to the point that we are winning a Grammy there is no stopping,” he says.
The album Am a Star by Seroney is now available to stream on all digital music platforms.