Monday, July 13, 2015

Tanzanian Pop Singer Vanessa Mdee featured in Essence Magazine

 "As our world widens, we hope to feature more international coverage with greater frequency," says Editor-In-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca in her letter from the editor in the latest issue of Essence Magazine. The cover story features singer Erykah Badu in various shots in Tanzania and Kenya. This is certainly music to my ears, I love to see synergies happen between the African and American audience!

One of the stories I was excited to see in the issue is a profile of Tanzanian pop singer Vanessa Mdee. In an in depth interview with editor Cori Murray the VJ turned songstress dished on a number of topics 

Check out the highlights from the interview 

For those who aren’t familiar with your background, tell us how you became an artist.
My sister happened to be dating one of Tanzania’s biggest deejays. He would let me go by the studio, so I was always around artists and the studio environment. I entered the MTV Base veejay search and won, a first for a Tanzanian. After a year of being on television, I started hosting a live radio show. It was perfect, but I knew in my heart of hearts I wanted to perform. I wanted to be onstage. I wanted to make music. I wanted to dance and I wanted people to sing along. But I had such issues with confidence and detachment. Like, I would make music and then say it’s horrible. I met David Banner last year when he was in Tanzania as part of a workshop for producers and artists. He told me that “every artist is like that.” He said, “If 75 percent of it sounds good, then let it go.” Now, I am a 24/7, 7 days a week fully fledged recording artist, performer, singer, dancer, rock star.

Are you still a veejay? 
It’s so strange, because every time I’m doing interviews I end up asking questions. I go into presenter mode, and then at the end, I have to apologize to the personality for asking too many questions. [Laughs]
Listening to your music, it could easily be played on American R&B/hip-hop stations. But we’re curious: What is Tanzanian music today, and who are the top five artists—besides yourself—we should know?The sound of Tanzanian music comes from various genres. What makes it -specific to Tanzania is that we sing and compose in Swahili. With the New Age sound we’re creating, there’s a fusion of R&B, hip-hop, funk, soul and what is known as soukous or zouk or rumba—traditional African sounds. This fusion is creating a whole new sound. We call it bongo flava. 
The word bongo in Swahili means “brain” but Dar es Salaam, which is the commercial capital of Tanzania, is also called The Bongo. It’s like how they call New York City “The Big Apple.” The top five artists you should know are: Diamond—well he goes by the name -Diamond Platnumz—Ben Pol, A.Y., Shah and Navy Kenzo.

Read the rest of the interview here

What African artist would you like to see get featured next?


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