“We had big plans, touring outside the continent and all that, but the pandemic happened and we had to cancel everything,” Faustina Charles alias Nandy, the Tanzanian pop star who has arguably been the most successful female singer in the region this year says as we kick of the interview.
The year brought mixed fortunes. At some point she had a constant clash with the Tanzanian government over what was being viewed as lewd content coming from her recordings. But as days progressed, she made up with law enforcers and became part of the team of artistes who supported President John Magufuli. And Kenyans loved her the more, missing her energetic stage performances here, a place she had already established as home in the past three years her music made her a household name across Africa.
“2020 was different but it was also a blessing in disguise because it is the year I have released my biggest records in my career. I missed my fans in Kenya and I can tell they missed me a lot. Since there were no concerts allowed in Kenya, I could hardly push my projects there. Better days are ahead,” she remarks hinting that she has been working on some projects with Tanasha Donnah, the former Diamond Platnumz singing Kenyan beauty queen.
Unlike many artistes whose production programmes were affected by the pandemic, Nandy released many hits this year among them Ninogeshe, Do Me, Na Nusu, Acha Lizame and Dozi, songs that got her ahead of the rest. Besides, the Covid-19 lockdown never happened in Tanzania like it did in Kenya. And 2020 being Tanzania’s election year, Nandy was always on the campaign trail performing among other big Tanzanian stars despite the entertainment halt witnessed around the world.
“Of course, I had to cancel my US and Europe tour because of the pandemic, but I was in almost 90 per cent of all major campaign rallies performing. It was a good year I would say,” she says.
Nandy is at the helm of list of top musical powerhouses in Africa. The sultry sweet-voiced ballad singer has amassed a sizeable and fanatical fan-base since she hit the limelight. The 28-year-old singer releases the kind of music that speaks directly to her fans and she is without a doubt changing the face of music.
“To say the truth I have been inspired by the fact that my fans have always been loyal. I do not want to ever let them down,” she told the Sunday Standard.
“My studio time is a bit simple. Most of the time I do not record in studio. I get myself a serviced apartment for like a week and just spend the whole week recording with various producers and artistes. My team and I move to the apartment for a whole week and magic is always made,” she said.
Although the artist has been in the industry for almost 10 years, she was propelled into stardom after taking part in the Tecno-Own-the-Stage competition in 2015/2016 and emerged the first runners up. The competition groomed her well music-wise, as she gained performance confidence, and also acquired essential knowledge of the music industry from the musical tutors and mentors such as chocolate City’s M I Abaga, Yemi Alade and Bien of Sauti Sol. This proved to be a road of no return as she has soared on and on achieving greater heights in no time. And she promises her fans to expect more sounds that will break barriers.
“In the next two years, the African Princess will be more international. Expect sounds that will break international barriers,” Nandy says.
Looking up to “Africa’s premier diva” Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, known as Angélique Kidjo, Nandy believes that she is the ultimate SI unit of a successful female musician.
“I am always inspired by what my big Mama Angelique Kidjo has been doing. She is definitely the SI unit of a successful female artist. I wish to work with her someday,” she says.
Under her sleeve she has won the All Africa Music Awards twice in the Best Female Artist in East Africa category in 2017 and 2020. And again over the weekend, the African Entertainment Awards, USA awards ceremony was held in the US. And in the award Gala that celebrates top performers in the African entertainment scene, Nandy was crowned the Best Female Artist. Although she admits this is a step to her ultimate musical dream which is to bag a Grammy.
“My biggest music dream is to win a Grammy because that is the epitome and dream of every artist and to sell out at big arenas like The O2 arena in London,” she says.
Addressing the rumours about her relationship with singer fiancé Billnas, she had this to say: “We only have two records together. Bugana and Do Me. Something funny is, we do not even plan for this, it just happens because most of the time we are together when either of us is recording,” she says.
“We do not mix love and business because we are two different brands with two different management teams. Despite everyone having their own finances and since he is the man, his finances are ours and my finances are solemnly mine.”
Looking closely into the Bongo Flava world you will realise Nandy has worked with Diamond Platnumz’s big rivals namely Ali Kiba and Harmonize but as she puts it there is no bad blood. “Just for the record, I have not worked with Diamond on a project yet but I would love to in the future. I have only worked with Kiba and Harmonize and both artists are amazing in their own ways. I cannot say which one is better because they have two different personalities hence two different energies and I loved both of them,” she says.
“My biggest challenge in the last two years has been staying at the top. We all know how hard it is to maintain that top position and my biggest down moment is when I lost my previous fiancé who was instrumental in my early years as an artist, may his soul rest in peace. I came to accept the will of God and pushed even harder like he would have wanted,” she says.