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Boy band Sauti Sol inks mega deal with global music label

By Emmanuel Mwendwa | Feb 1st 2020 | 4 min read
Sauti Sol during the signing of the deal with Universal Music Africa (UMA) in South Africa on Thursday. [Courtesy]

Kenya’s award-winning boy band Sauti Sol has bagged a recording deal with Universal Music Africa (UMA).

UMA is a division of the Universal Music Group (UMG), a global leader in music-based entertainment.

The deal grants Sauti Sol access to UMG’s worldwide music marketing and distribution network, and paves the way for a myriad opportunities hinged on ensuring the band’s music transcends across global audiences.

“We are delighted to announce our partnership with Sauti Sol, one of the most innovative and creative groups to have broken through from Africa in recent years,” remarked Sipho Dlamini, managing director of UMG South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Undoubtedly, this announcement has drawn extensive coverage across Africa and rest of the globe.

This deal is among a string of firsts credited to the band, which is fronted by vocalists Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi and guitarist Polycarp Otieno.

The UMA recording deal opens doors into the Universal Music Group (UMG) stable whose recording artistes roster includes notable musicians and pop bands.

Tupac Shakur, Toni Braxton, Shaggy, Wyclef Jean, Sean Paul, Wale, The Weekend, Whiz Khalifa, Yemi Alade and Tiwa Savage are some of the stars who had deals with UMG.

So extensive is the UMG catalogue that the signed artistes’ names are outlined in alphabetical order, perhaps for ease of wading through the maze that is the music label’s all-inclusive repertoire in terms of diverse genres.

Against the backdrop of live performance concert tours across Africa, the US, Europe and Australia, Sauti Sol has earned recognition from a fast-growing multi-national fan-base.

Along the way, the band has earned successive accolades including international awards, a BET Awards nomination, an MTV EMA for Best African Act and MTV Africa Award for Best African Group.

Credited with numerous popular recordings from their albums Mwanzo (2008), and Sol Filosofia (2011), Sauti Sol’s third studio album titled Live and Die in Afrika broke new ground for the band, spiraling into collaborations with top-drawer Nigerian stars Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy and Patoranking.

The band’s music video for the single Coming Home earned them the Best Music Video award at the Kisima Music Awards, as well as the Best Fusion Artist/Group of the Year award.

Other productions include a collaboration with South African rapper and producer Spoek Mathambo, which was released in 2012.

An old Dutch ammunition factory in Zaandam, Netherlands, which has since become a cultural heritage site, offered the perfect scene for the video of the track Range Rover.

Last year, Sauti Sol notched another milestone by setting up their own record label; Sol Generation Records. Ushering the new decade with a major international label deal is a key pointer of the band’s appeal beyond the borders.

“Universal Music Africa is dedicated to helping the best African music talent reach new audiences around the world and we are excited to welcome them to our global UMG family,” Dlamini said at the band’s unveiling ceremony.

“We look forward to working together with them to ensure they are able to authentically celebrate Africa through music and to help introduce their unique blend Afro-pop to new listeners everywhere,” he added.

Sauti Sol members expressed their gratitude and shared this message on social media with their fans: “It’s official! Our first major label deal, UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP. Thank you guys for being patient. We really hope y’all are ready for the new album Midnight Train”.

Undoubtedly, for a journey that started as an experimental a cappella group when four founder band members met in high school and forged a strong bond.

Their resolve to pursue music professionally and against all odds has gradually paid off.

“We have always been focused on using our collective skills to produce music that cuts across all age groups. Sharing our music with a larger audience base, more so during live concerts, strengthens the band. Expectations have been high among our fans and this always made us step up our game,” Chimano said in a past interview.

During the formative years, a cappella and neo-soul may have been their preferred genre of choice but over the years, the band refined and defined their music into afro-fusion-pop sound.

“We are determined to become pacesetters, venturing beyond the conventional target audiences and.. tap into the international market,” Chimano said.

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