Music

How Nduta sang to a coveted music deal

Christine-Nduta

Kenyan singer, songwriter Christine Nduta Muthaka. PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • Muthaka grew up initially on a diet of country music listening to Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and John Denver along with more contemporary acts like Mumford and Sons and Vance Joy.
  • Vocally she studied Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion, among others, hence her description of her style as contemporary Indie-Soul.
  • Her songwriting was shaped by reading the liner notes of Dolly Parton’s albums and later a younger generation of acts like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.

She is just 22 but Kenyan singer, songwriter, and guitarist Christine Nduta Muthaka (Muthaka) sounds mature beyond her relative youth with a style that is intense and elegant. She sings deeply soulful songs, her voice portrays deep passion about love, and heartbreak and now she has an opportunity to showcase her talents to the world after being signed to a recording deal by a major music label.

“I want my music to be that silent friend that any person regardless of gender, age, or race, can find solace in, that is why I love the indie-soul kind of sound,” says Muthaka who becomes the latest Kenyan act to be signed by A.I Records and its parent company, Universal Music.

“We are extremely excited to start this new journey with this amazing young talent and help her achieve greater heights in her career,” says John Andrews, the General Manager of A.I Records.

“She has everything it takes to put Kenya out there in a genre that most artists would not dare touch.”

Mr Andrews says soul music has been defined by iconic vocalists like Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin and India. He saw this is an exciting opportunity for a young Kenyan singer who emulates those great divas to establish her career.

Muthaka grew up initially on a diet of country music listening to Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and John Denver along with more contemporary acts like Mumford and Sons and Vance Joy.

Vocally she studied Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion, among others, hence her description of her style as contemporary Indie-Soul. Her songwriting was shaped by reading the liner notes of Dolly Parton’s albums and later a younger generation of acts like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. Muthaka has been singing since the age of nine though she started writing her music and performing in 2018 after graduating from Sauti Academy, an institution that develops singing and performing talent.

She was initially part of a duo but her performing partner dropped out along the way and left her to gather the courage to go on as a solo act.

“It was very difficult to sing in front of a crowd so I would often close my eyes all through or perform with my back to the audience,” she says.

Muthaka describes the experience as a lesson that taught her to be self-reliant when she began her career as a performer.

Eventually, she got the hang of it and with her guitar was writing her songs and performing at every opportunity she could get. She writes, arranges, and sings all of the original compositions that she performs alongside her band. She began playing the guitar in 2019 and has discovered the instrument as a supplement to her songwriting and performing skills.

She headlined gigs at popular venues like the Carnivore, Garden City, and Alliance Francaise. She has shared the stage with many of today’s contemporary stars like Bensoul, Tetu Shani, Wanja Wohoro, and Steph Kapela. She was among the artists involved in the cancer awareness programme Project Brave which offers music therapy to cancer patients and their families in hospitals and their homes.

It was at one of her gigs that the scouts from A.I Records/Universal spotted her and began the negotiations on signing her to a contract. She says being signed to a record deal means there is a greater responsibility on the artiste to perform at the highest level but thankfully there are professionals to guide the artist through the process.

Her first single “Why Don’t You Love Me” just like her other songs is very personal and direct and among the very first tunes that she wrote in 2018, as her career was starting.

“It unlocked a lot for me to believe in my songwriting and keep writing as authentically, honestly and creatively, as I can," she says. The song is based on a true experience of being attracted to someone and hoping that they feel the same way, but for whatever reason, they don't reciprocate and that triggers insecurity, and jealousy," explains Muthaka.

“The song was birthed from those feelings and trying to express them not only to this person but to myself as well.”

“Everything I write I try to make it as personal as possible,” says Muthaka.

The song is the lead single from an album of 14 songs which she is in the process of recording, in time for a release date that will officially be announced by A.I/Universal Music.