MY HUSTLE: How I made it in music

Tuesday November 14 2017

Beryl Owano, 23, credits her dad for her

Beryl Owano, 23, credits her dad for her success in music. PHOTO| COURTESY 

By BENSON MACHARIA
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Beryl Owano, 23, credits her dad for her success in music.  

“My dad sings more than some of the artists in the industry,” Beryl begins, as she shares how her music loving family inspired her to become pursue music.

HAS A HISTORY WITH MUSIC

Beryl says her mother was a choir mistress in the local church and her dad loved to sing more than anything else.

This inspired Beryl to kick-start her musical journey as soon as she joined primary school.

Beryl Owano with Bongo flava star Matonya.

Beryl Owano with Bongo flava star Matonya. PHOTO| COURTESY

She would sing at any chance offered by her teachers. At church, Beryl often volunteered to lead other children in singing. At the time though, Beryl only sang to entertain her classmates and the faithful in church.

DREAMT OF BECOMING A JOURNALIST

Like every school-going child, Beryl had a dream to be a professional someday.

Her first dream was to be a lawyer, but this later changed to being a journalist by the time she joined high school. Beryl says that her interest in Journalism and communication helped her develop confidence and better her grammar skills that would later become very helpful in her music career.

When she completed high school at Nakuru Girls High School in 2012, Beryl joined the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication to pursue a diploma in Journalism.

FIRST SONG WAS A FLOP

When Beryl recorded her first song, “Hot in Jesus” soon after completing high school, the reception was so poor that she almost gave up in her career.

"People, mostly friends and family, told me to give up on the song. I ended up abandoning the song and quit music temporarily."

In retrospect, she admits that the production quality of the video was poor. She plans to redo it one day.

However, she opted to relocate to Nairobi in the hope that it would help with her career. Her uncle and aunties who lived in Embakasi housed her.

“My hopes would soon be dimmed by numerous challenges I faced as I tried to get a good label to record with. I had come to Nairobi without telling my parents, and so I never even asked them for financial assistance,” Beryl adds.

MULTIPLE CHALLENGES

“My biggest challenge when I came to the city was catering for basic needs. I had no friends to help me get food and transport. I had to hustle my way out. The few professionals I met were cruel to me. Some wanted sexual favours in exchange for recording my music,” Beryl narrates.

Beryl Owano at the beginning of her music

Beryl Owano at the beginning of her music career. PHOTO| COURTESY

When catering for basic needs became a challenge, Beryl decided to put her music career on hold. She instead opted to do vocal backups for renowned musicians as well as write songs for others.

She didn’t mind that she got little credit for her work because her dream to sing was still alive.

RECORDING HER HIT LABEL “MAFISI”

In the midst of her struggles, Beryl met a music producer, Omae Lion, who would help her record her  “Mafisi”. The song became famous, garnering thousands of views on YouTube within the first three weeks of September 2016.

Soon after recording “Mafisi”, Beryl got inspiration write another song that would later become her signature: “Slowly”, featuring Matonya.

“When I wrote “Slowly”, my intention was to appreciate the men in my lives. But before I could shoot a video for the song, I sent it TV host, Willy M Tuva to ask for his views. Coincidentally,

Matonya was in the studio and he happened to listen to the song. Later he called me and asked for a collabo,” Beryl says.

LOOKS UP TO LOCAL MUSICIANS

Beryl, who says that she now pays all her bills with music, has a lot of local musicians she looks up to.

Beryl during the shooting of

Beryl during the shooting of "Mafisi". PHOTO| COURTESY

“My favourite Kenyan musician is Sanaipei Tande because of her writing skills and her relaxed vocals. I also love Yemi Alade’s style of music. I would love to do a collabo with her someday,” Beryl says.

Beryl’s biggest singing platform so far was the 2017 Miss Tourism Kenya event held in Vihiga County. She charges Sh35,000 or more per event. She hopes to become famous and influence millions of Africans with her music.

As an artist who overcame sexual harassment in the music scene to be where she is, Beryl tells upcoming female artists to uphold their dignity in their struggles until they make it into the music industry.

“For ladies who just joined music as a career, keep your dignity however much it will take you to break through,” she says.

Beryl offers vocal coaching freely, mainly to friends and people with interest in music as a way if giving back.

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