Music producer Joanne Corrigall is moving to Kenya

Joanne Corrigall

She came, saw and stayed! Joanne Corrigall, a music video producer from South Africa arrived in Nairobi in February for what was supposed to be a filmmakers' workshop, before falling in love with Kenya. Now she wants to establish a business empire here, writes ANJELLAH OWINO

The OK response Joanne Corrigall received to take part in the East African Soul Train (E.A.S.T) electrified her.

The South African music video director, producer and filmmaker had been listening to “a little bit” of Kenyan songs before she came to the country to explore the scene some more for herself. Here, she learned of E.A.S.T, requested to take part in it and got accepted. The initiative has ended but the bubbly lady is not going anywhere. She is relocating to Nairobi.

The initiative that took place in February and was organised by What’s Good Live Television brought together a cocktail of artists from different creative spaces; musicians, writers, painters, photographers, radio hosts, poets, stylists, filmmakers and dancers.

They took a train ride from Nairobi to Mombasa, and finally to Kilifi all this time, creating artistic mash-ups in each cabin that was transformed into artists’ workrooms. It is here that Joanne to relocate to Kenya.

“That experience completely confirmed my perception about Kenyan music. The music scene here is on the verge of explosion. And as a music video director and a music lover, I really want to be here to play my part in helping it explode and take it to the world. The music here is of international standards, all we need is exposure,” she says.

She has made that step by producing a video to rapper Hustla Jay’s upcoming song while in Kilifi. She is ready to work with artists in the East African region. But she is selective. You will not find her working with artists whose music compositions revolve around the night life, glorifies alcohol, objectifies women or those I-am-the-king-of-the-world songs that aim to sooth egos. Not for Joanne who, also a certified doctor, sees music as a healer.

“The kinds of music that interests me are those that have a conscious message, speak about things that are important to people, you know, real life issues and inspire people to transcend difficulties. I look for music that can heal the world,” says Joan, who studied music production at New York Film Academy.

Joanne strives to work underground musicians as well. She tells us that in mainstream market, certain record labels tend to dominate radios and television music shows, robbing people of music diversity. This is why it is important for independent producers like herself to work with underground artists and help them gain exposure. However, her biggest mission, she says, is to work with female musicians.

Her interest in the Kenyan music industry also stems from the recognition of the same challenges that once faced South Africa. The South African music revolution came from a place where American music dominated the industry.

“South African artists complained that there was no industry for lack of support. All our radios ever played was American music and people would never go to watch local musicians perform. The introduction of the South African Music Awards helped the industry. Suddenly the music became worth winning an award for, it had prime time television coverage so people suddenly started to know the artists and appreciate their work,” she says.

Plentiful of music workshops and good infrastructure also helped their industry.

“The Kenyan music industry is emerging and that makes it a lot more exciting. We hear a lot of genres of music and there is a lot of energy here. The South African music scene is saturated whereas there is a movement that is about to take place here. That revolution already happened in South Africa,” she says.

Joanne also has her eyes set on filmmaking. A few weeks ago, a debate erupted about the possibility of Kenyan stories heading to South Africa for filming. Other than the attractive rebates, Joanne says that availability equipment will attract foreign filmmakers that the government can start to invest in. She further points out that their government’s faith in the filmmakers and that the film industry is an area of potential growth is what flourished their industry.

Doesn’t she feel uncomfortable coming to country that is in competition in film?

“I do not believe in coming to a foreign country and work on my own. I have been meeting with Kenyan filmmakers and I have a lady who I will partner with. I think the notion that people should stay in their countries is outdated. Once I get back in South Africa, I will formulate my plans then come back as soon as I get a work permit to work with African artists in both film and music projects,” she promises.