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Jingle all the way: Kenyan artists transforming Christmas tunes

Features
 Singer Okello Max. (Courtesy)

December usually kicks off with lots of festive tunes from different artistes. It is a month when people decide to wind down and try as much as possible to make sure their year ends in style.

Carols are heard in all manner of places aside from churches. However, even those who aren't big fans of this kind of holiday would still find themselves enjoying beautiful carols.

Imagine a village gathering, lit by the gentle glow of bonfires, as voices rise in unison, singing a beautiful Kikuyu song celebrating the birth of Jesus. Or picture a lively Luo dance to the pulsating beats of celebrating the same.

These carols haven't remained confined to village gatherings. Today, Kenyan artistes are reimagining these traditions for modern audiences, creating a rich tapestry of Christmas music that resonates with Kenyans of all ages.

This transition towards secular celebrations is also witnessed in the world of carol tunes. Secular artistes would develop festive songs that would connect people in this season. This gives a distinctive taste to their well-awaited holiday season.

People would get chances to connect since they have one thing in common. It has also seen people from different paths of life despite religious ties coming together and it is seen as an emerging culture. Be it in festive art, or any kind of community event, people are seen embracing this universal value that makes the end of the year unique.

Kenyan artistes are now bringing these songs to life during this festive season. There is a group of diverse musicians who are changing the game with their secular approach to Christmas music, infusing personal experiences, social commentary, and a bit of humour into their carols.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Atemi is a true Christmas enthusiast. You would notice this as evidenced by the festive spirit infused into her music and most of her events. Tis The Season, is an exquisite ode to the holiday season. It seems to never go out of time at any given Christmas holiday.

The album features enchanting renditions of classic carols like O Come and Silent Night, alongside Kenyan holiday gems such as Bus to Usagoo. Here, creatively, Atemi's creative skills transform each track into a musical celebration that captures the essence of Christmas. In 2023, this would be a good album that is a must-add to your festive playlists. It will ensure that the magic of the season resonates in every note and lyric.

In the captivating world of holiday melodies, envision Sage's soulful vocals seamlessly intertwining with a Gospel choir, weaving a drapery of depth and richness into a cherished carol. Here, get a picture of a vibrant smash-up of Hip Hop and Afrobeat, where Sage takes the mic to deliver verses celebrating the joy of giving and the essence of community spirit, harmonising with a festive chorus that echoes the season's merriment.

Transition to an acoustic ballad, where Sage's delicate voice and contemplative lyrics invite listeners to a more contemplative journey through the season's significance. Sage offers a fresh lens on timeless Christmas themes mainly: Love, comfort and family getting together — derived from their own poignant experiences and keen observations. As a versatile artiste, Sage's contribution to a Christmas song becomes a shade where various vibes and messages converge, making each musical venture a unique and captivating exploration.

Another gifted artiste is Zion Njeri, the gifted Kenyan gospel artist who unveiled a holiday gem in 2020 — the enchanting Merry Christmas. This musical creation pulsates with an upbeat energy, seamlessly blending Afrobeat vibes with the soul-stirring essence of contemporary gospel. Zion unleashes the full force of their powerful voice, creating a sonic tapestry that resonates with the spirit of the season through her warm and inviting vocals.

Additionally, Kenyan audiences have warmly embraced the song, and the virtual realm has buzzed with positive feedback, affirming the artiste's ability to strike a chord with listeners. Bringing the magic to life, Zion Njeri has graced various platforms with live performances of Merry Christmas, turning each rendition into a soulful celebration that transcends the airwaves.

A good number of Kenyan vocal maestros are gifting the world with Christmas albums that serve as melodic portals into the authentic Kenyan Christmastime. These musical offerings don't just play tunes; they encapsulate the very essence of a Kenyan Christmas.

Kenya's musical royalty, Sauti Sol, had before joined forces with the musical sensation Nikita Kering' for a Christmas collaboration that is poised to kindle festive fervour. Their collaborative masterpiece, aptly named Christmas Carols, transcends traditional holiday tunes; it's a convergence of musical giants, a fusion of styles that sparks happiness and brings that Christmas mood to a standstill.

Sauti Sol's trademark fusion of soulful harmonies and Afrobeat rhythms seamlessly embraces the warmth and nostalgia of Christmas classics.

These two songs Jingle Bells and Silent Night have transfigured into a velvety, soul-stirring serenade. Their opulent vocal layers and intricate arrangements are bound to evoke a spine-tingling response, compelling you to sway along.

Meanwhile, Kering' injects her youthful exuberance and formidable vocals into the mix. Nikita has this distinctive blend of Afro-pop and R&B that imparts a contemporary twist to the familiar carols.  As she sings Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas with a hint of her signature infusing Oh Holy Night with her vibrant energy, it will give easy time for anyone to notice the contrast of her raw power against Sauti Sol's seasoned smoothness promises a symphonic delight for the senses.

Singer, Okello Max, continues to enchant us with his sensational tunes, and the latest gift from his musical sleigh is none other than the dazzling Christmas EP titled "Christmas Kolor." This Christmas EP is a melodic journey boasting four enchanting tracks — Amezaliwa, Emmanuel, Santa Para, and Police Na Guitar. Beyond being a mere compilation, it's a curated musical experience designed to immerse you in the holiday spirit.

Every song carries a distinct Kenyan flavor, infused with the rhythmic beats of Dholuo and the vibrant linguistic assortment of Sheng'. What sets this collection apart is its versatility — ranging from tempos that quicken the pulse to sounds that soothe the soul, offering a diverse array of Christmas carol experiences. Get ready for a celebration of the season like never before, where tradition meets innovation in a harmonious blend of festive cheer and Kenyan musical artistry.

With each note, listeners are invited to journey through the vibrant tapestry of Kenyan traditions, wrapped in the festive spirit and resonating with the diverse sounds of a uniquely Kenyan celebration. It's more than just music; it's a sonic celebration of the rich, joyous match that defines the Kenyan Christmas experience.

Kenyan Christmas carols and albums are more than just musical entertainment. They are a celebration of culture, community, and the spirit of the season. They weave together the threads of faith, family, and tradition, creating a tapestry that is both uniquely Kenyan and universally relatable.

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