Two gifted young female singers have emerged as powerful new voices on the music scene after gaining invaluable experience of providing backing vocals to some of Africa’s top contemporary artists.
Both Mayonde and Trina Mungai earned their big career breaks while singing on two seasons of the popular Coke Studio TV show and they have now released their first single together that showcases their outstanding vocals accompanied by a bold video.
“Last year, I kept telling a friend ‘I don’t want to go back to Coke Studio’ because I feel like its time to make the next step,” says Trina. Coincidentally, it was at about the same time that she received a call from her friend and fellow musician, Kagwe Mungai (no relation), who introduced her to her current label Taurus Music.
“We were constantly making music with the best bands in Africa so it felt like school and the time came when I needed to put into practice all that I had learnt” says singer, songwriter, and playwright Mayonde.
After two seasons on Coke Studio she felt that she has outgrown the show.
Their dreams of collaborating on a project of their own which started when they were both back up singers on Coke Studio, has come to pass with the release of their single called “Shika.”
“The music video we did is sexy without being trashy. It is the sauciest, most confident collaboration of Kenyan female artists,” says Mayonde.
During Coke Studio, both musicians provided background vocals for among others American R & B star, Neyo Vanessa Mdee and Diamond Platnumz from Tanzania, Nigeria’s Mr. Flavor and Kenya’s Victoria Kimani.
“When you are a back up singer, you can add a little bit of your own flavour but its mostly about supporting the main singer but as a solo artist you have creative control over the product,” says Trina.
With that experience as background vocalists Mayonde and Trina now appreciate the responsibility for their individual brands. That responsibility extends to marketing and positioning yourself as an artist. Trina Mungai is a singer, songwriter and fashion blogger who has been singing since the age of 15. Before being tapped for Coke Studio, she regularly provided background vocalist for a host of top acts including Eric Wainaina, Atemi, Gloria Muliro, Daddy Owen,
She also toured across major towns in Kenya during the Safaricom Live Tour performing with many artists including P-Unit with whom she recorded a song.
Mayonde began her career as a gospel artist and ‘ventured out to find her own sound after a while’ by first posting “Diana Nduba Live” a project of 7 songs on her SoundCloud page in 2012.
She was part of the cast of a musical theatre group “Out of Africa the Magic of Kenya” which toured Europe for three months promoting Kenya as a cultural hub in 2012
Her first album “Magic In the Air” was produced during her first season on Coke Studio through the assistance of friends in the music business. “I didn’t have a whole lot of money to go to big studios so I reached out to friends with production skills and I was like ‘can we even produce this music in your bedroom’”
Her 2018 EP “Project Purple” came after the second season of the Coke Studio and has received favourable reviews with lots of radio airplay and online streaming of the song “Nairobi”: “I really love my city and so I celebrate it through the song,” she says.
The experience of her first two releases has taught her to value her versatility as an artist. “I can make songs that are very deep and those that are pop oriented and they all have a place. There is a time to be profound and another time to be carefree and just dance.” Meanwhile, Trina, who also plays the bass guitar says her challenge is in trying to write the more easy-going type of music: “I know I write from a deep perspective but I also want to write the simple songs, the hype songs.”
Both artists trace their influences to neo soul singers like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, and Corrine Bailey Rae. Trina is focusing on more collaborations this year to establish her relatively young career while Mayonde’s priority is on promoting her “Project Purple” with plans to release a new single in the months ahead.