Sauti Sol is a Kenyan Afropop band formed in Nairobi in 2005 by vocalists Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano and Savara Mudigi. Initially an a cappella group, guitarist Polycarp Otieno joined before they named themselves Sauti Sol.
Sauti Sol released their debut studio album Mwanzo on 1 November 2008, to critical acclaim. Their second studio album, Sol Filosofia, was released on 25 February 2011, earning the group a number of accolades and nominations in the process. On 18 June 2012, the band released a self-titled extended play in collaboration with South African rapper and record producer Spoek Mathambo. Their third studio album, Live and Die in Afrika, was released online on 21 November 2015 as a free download, available for 48 hours as an early Christmas present.
The band has had several successful tours in Africa and Europe, topped Kenyan charts and gained international attention with shows in Europe and the US, as well as television appearances and various accolades and nominations, including their 2011 concert performance in Kenya with South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The band has also received both local and international accolades and nominations, including at the Kisima Music Awards, the Channel O Music Video Awards, the MTV Europe Music Awards, and the BET Awards.
The band was formed in 2005 as an a cappella group by Baraza, Chimano and Savara, who had met at the Upper Hill High School and performed in Voices in the Light, a music group at the school. They then met guitarist Otieno, who attended Strathmore School, at the Alliance française in Nairobi, where they would frequent and decided to form Sauti (Swahili for “sound”) and immediately wrote their first song, “Mafunzo ya Dunia” (Literally: lessons of the world), which would later feature in their debut studio album Mwanzo. The band later added the Spanish word “Sol” (sun) to their name and formed Sauti Sol (supposed to mean “voices in the sun”). In 2006, the band participated in the Spotlight on Kenyan Music competition, hosted by the Alliance française in Nairobi. They were included in the album compilation recording and later got signed to Penya Records. The four members all completed their university education in Kenya. Baraza studied journalism at the United States International University, while Savara studied commerce and finance at Africa Nazarene University. Chimano studied journalism at the University of Nairobi, while Otieno studied actuarial science at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
Sauti Sol released their debut studio album Mwanzo on 4 August 2009, via their record label Penya Records, to critical acclaim. In 2009, at a Ford Foundation grantee meeting hosted by the School of Journalism at the University of Nairobi, Willis Austin Chimano made the declaration that his group was the “first Kenyan band to record socially-conscious music”. The band then followed up with their second studio album Sol Filosofia two years later. The music video for the album’s second single, “Coming Home”, earned them the Best Music Video award at the 2011 Kisima Music Awards, with the group itself also winning the Best Fusion Artist/Group of the Year award.
2012–2015: Sauti Sol and Live and Die in Afrika
In July 2012, Sauti Sol released a self-titled extended play, a collaborative effort with South African rapper and record-producer Spoek Mathambo, who produced the EP in Nairobi and Johannesburg. The music video for its lead single, “Range Rover”, was shot at the Hembrug in Zaandam, Netherlands, in an old ammunition factory that is now an official cultural heritage site popularly referred to as “the cathedral”. Kenyan singer Dela, who previously collaborated with the band “Mama papa” from Mwanzo, appeared in the song “Slow”, which also features Mathambo. Its music video was shot in Amsterdam. The band then released “Love or Leave” as the EP’s second single, with its music video also shot in Amsterdam during the band’s stop in the city as part of their European tour in 2012. Their song “Gentleman” with rap group P-Unit earned them a nomination for the “Teeniez’ Group or Collabo” award at the 2012 Chaguo La Teeniez Awards, losing out to alternative hip hop group Camp Mulla. It was the second time they were nominated for the award, losing to P-Unit the previous year.
Sauti Sol’s recognition continued to rise in 2012, as they were nominated for and won the Most Gifted East African award at the 2012 Channel O Music Video Awards for their song “Shukuru” with Tanzanian rapper AY.
On 29 April 2014, the band released “Nishike”. Its music video caused an uproar in the media due to its steamy content, and ended up getting banned from most local TV stations. Baraza later expressed his anger with the ban, stating that he refuses “to be a secular artist boxed by society to restrict my freedom of expression.” They received a nomination for the Best Group award at the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards, but eventually lost out South African group Mafikizolo. The music video has received a 2014 Nomination as East Africa’s Most Gifted Video by Channel O Music Video Awards.
After “Nishike”, Sauti Sol released their third studio album, Live and Die in Afrika. The album, released online on 21 November 2015, was available to Sauti Sol fans globally for free download (48 hours) as an early Christmas present. The album was released under their imprint label Sauti Sol Entertainment as a self-produced work by Sauti Sol for Sauti Sol. A total of 400,000 downloads were made during the free download period. The band released their fourth single off Live and Die in Afrika entitled “Sura Yako” (Your Face). This was introduced by a spin-off Lipala dance competition run on Instagram that sparked an online dance movement in Africa and across the globe. Following the success of the competition, the band released the single’s music video on 12 September 2014.
2018–present: Afrikan Sauce and Midnight Train
Sauti Sol’s fourth studio album Afrikan Sauce was released on 31 January 2019. Primarily an Afropop and R&B record, Afrikan Sauce marked a departure from the traditional acoustic sound of their previous albums. It features guest appearances from Patoranking, Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, Vanessa Mdee, Yemi Alade, Khaligraph Jones, Nyashinski, Bebe Cool, Mi Casa, Toofan, Jah Prayzah and C4 Pedro. The album comprises 13 tracks and was supported by the previously released singles “Melanin”, “Girl Next Door”, “Afrikan Star”, “Short N Sweet” and “Tujiangalie”. Sauti Sol described the album as an “art and cultural exchange” project and said it would be released towards the end of 2017. They also announced plans to release a new track with a different African artist every month. However, this plan did not materialize due to financial constraints.
In January 2020, Sauti Sol announced on Twitter they had signed a record deal with Universal Music Africa, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. They also stated they were gearing up to release Midnight Train. In an interview with OkayAfrica, Chimano said their record deal with Universal took a long time because they were looking for a tailor-made deal and not just the normal artist contract. Midnight Train comprises 13 tracks and features collaborations with India Arie, Soweto Gospel Choir, Sho Madjozi, Black Motion, Mortimer, Bensoul, Nviiri the Storyteller, Okello Max, Xeniah Manasseh, and Nairobi Horns Project. The album was initially scheduled for release in March, but its release date was pushed back three times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Otieno told OkayAfrica their personal experiences and what they go through as men and husbands inspired the album’s music. He also said the songs on the album are relatable and have deeper messages. Chimano characterized the album as a collaborative project with songwriters and producers and said it encompasses the best of them. Moreover, the band dedicated the entire project to their fans who have stuck with them. On the album’s cover art, Sauti Sol embraced innovative fashion and style.
Midnight Train was recorded between Los Angeles, Johannesburg, and Nairobi. In an interview with the website Music in Africa, Chimano said that nearly half of the album’s songs were written three years prior and were recorded for a different project. He also said they recorded 20 songs for the album but chose to use only 13.
- Bien-Aimé Baraza
- Willis Chimano
- Savara Mudigi
- Polycarp Otieno
1. Bien Aime Baraza (born 28 December 1987) is a Kenyan vocalist, songwriter, guitarist and a band member of soul group Sauti Sol. Many of Bien’s Songs became very popular and trendy on social media.
Early Life And Education
Bien Aimé Baraza was born in Nairobi, Kenya, on December 28, 1987. He went to Upper Hill High School, where he met his band members, Willis Chimano and Savara Mudigi, and later, furthermore, to the United States International University for Journalism and Media Studies, and graduated in 2011.
Bien Aimé joined Sauti Sol in 2006 to pursue his musical career, Sauti sol is an Afropop group that was officially formed in 2005 and it consists of four people; Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi, Polycarp Otieno, and Bien Aimé Baraza. The group was initially an acapella group and has since become a popular Afropop group in Africa and Europe.
Bien served as an artist working with instruments, vocals, songwriters, and producers for Sauti Sol. on 5, November 2021, He signed a three-year contract deal worth Ksh 50 million with the Sol Generation record label, a label established by Sauti sol. The cheque was presented to him by Sol Generation manager William Nanjero, at the official launching of his EP project, “Bald Men Love Better” featuring Aaron Rimbui.
Longtime partner of Bien Aimé Baraza, Chiki Onwekwe was the envy of many women after they vacationed together in English Point Marina.
Only close family and friends were present at Bien and his longtime Nigerian fiancée Chiki’s intimate wedding in March 2020. Although he kept this a secret for a while, he had two children with his baby mom Bijou Baraza.
2. Willis Austin Chimano (born 9 July 1987) is Kenyan Sauti Sol’s baritone vocalist and singer. His vocal range and undoubted skill as an artist have made him a celebrated Kenyan artist. This article looks into Chimano’s biography highlighting his background, education, career journey, and personal life details.
Chimano Age and Place of Birth
He was born on 9th July 1987 in Kenya to very strict parents. He says he had a difficult time as a child making friends and often kept to himself.
Chimano Education Background
He attended four different primary schools before he completed his primary school education. He enrolled at Kakamega High School for his secondary school and later transferred to Upper Hill High School where he met Bien and Savara before he then met Polycarp. After high school, Chimano joined the University of Nairobi to pursue a Journalism and Media Studies undergraduate degree.
Chimano Career Journey
His music journey kicked off in 2005 when the band began writing music. The group has since then worked together producing Mwanzo, Sol Filosofoia, Live and Die in Afrika, Afrikan Sauce, and Midnight Train studio albums.
The band members launched their solo careers in 2021 while still retaining the band’s identity and entity on its own. Willis Austin Chimano has hit the ground running after releasing a highly anticipated song which since its release on Friday 3rd December has amassed over 427k views. The song title Friday Feeling is part of his Heavy is the Crown album celebrating the LGBTQ+ community after coming out as gay. He said he had felt happy being himself and quitting with the hiding.
3. Savara Delvin Mudigi (born 25 May 1987) is a member of the Sauti Sol band who is the band’s producer, vocalist, and guitarist. This article looks into his biography highlighting his background, education, career journey, and personal life details.
Savara Mudigi Age and Place of Birth
He was born on 25th May in 1987. His parents named him Delvin Mudigi upon his birth.
Savara Mudigi Education Background
As two members of the band, Savara is an alumnus of Upper Hill High School where the three began performing together and shortly after met Polycarp Otieno alias Fancy Fingers. After successfully completing high school, Savara joined the Africa Nazarene University pursuing a degree in Commerce and Finance.
Savara Mudigi Career Journey
In the band, Savara is a drummer, vocalist, producer, and DJ. Unknown to many, he is also an actor and fitness enthusiast. During the airing of Sol Family, fans got to know that Savara was a vegetarian and was keen on his diet. Over the years, they have grown Sauti Sol into a globally celebrated band producing and releasing quality music. The band was awarded a Grammy certificate in recognition for their production of Burna Boy’s Twice as Tall Album.
With the team on a venture to explore their solo careers, Sauti Sol fans are being exposed to a whole new world in each of the band member’s works. Savara happens to be the last member whose first project is yet to be released. He has been promoting ‘Balance’ set to be released on Friday 10th December 2021. This is a highly anticipated project with sky-high expectations as the three band members have all released incredibly artistic and conscious music.
Fans will enjoy the music release before the Sol Fest on 12th December. The concert has been completely sold out. Updates indicate that the concert will be live-streamed with Homeboyz Radio since there are thousands of fans who wanted to attend the concert in person but that would not be possible.
Savara Mudigi Personal Life
He is dating a lady named Yvonne Endo whom he describes as his best friend and rock. The two met in Nairobi and Yvonne jokingly reminisces about Savara introducing himself as a stripper.
4. Polycarp Otieno (born 14 November 1987) is a member of the award-winning Kenyan boyband Sauti Sol. He is the band’s guitarist, producer, songwriter, composer, and singer. This article looks into his biography highlighting his background, education, career journey, personal life, and strides in music.
Polycarp Age and Place of Birth
He was born on 14th November 1987 in Kenya where he has been brought up.
Polycarp Education Background
The highly skilled guitarist and musician is an alumnus of Strathmore School where he completed his high school education before proceeding to the university. For his higher education, he joined the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology studying Actuarial Science. Instead of pursuing further studies, he decided to fully focus on Music along with his newly found band members,
Polycarp Career Journey
His musical career kicked off in 2005 when he met the other Sauti Sol members – Savara, Bien, and Chimano. They worked together and released the group’s debut album titled Mwanzo on 4th August 2009. Sauti Sol’s very first song was titled Mafunzo ya Dunia which laid the ground for more of their works in later years and was featured in their debut album. The album had fourteen songs that received a remarkable welcome in the Kenyan music industry. Polycarp along with the other band names had the band signed to Penya Records releasing their early music.
Fancy Fingers, as Polycarp is known among his fans, has launched his solo career in 2021 along with the other band members. Sauti Sol remains intact despite the members exploring solo paths. Fancy Fingers released an intimate album titled Father Studies that explored various fatherhood topics in today’s generation. Some of the songs on the album include How I Met Your Mother, Rhumba Toto, Fancy Feeling, and Lala Land.
Polycarp Personal Life
He is married to a Burundian wife Lady Mandy after the two were wedded in a traditional wedding in Bujumbura. The couple is blessed with a son who was a key character in Polycarp’s latest album Father Studies.
Sauti Sol has an estimated net worth of around $3 million – $7 million.
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