After having started her music career in a band and then participating in a talent show, Nandy Mfinaga is proving to be among the most celebrated songbirds in Africa, with hits like “Ninogeshe”, “Kivuruge”, “Wasikudanganye” and “Subalkheri”. She spoke to GEORGE D. MWENDWA during her visit to Kenya for Coke Studio Africa.
It’s been hit after hit for Nandy, what’s the secret?
Many thanks for the compliment. I have a team that works very steadfastly behind me to ensure everything about my brand runs smoothly. This includes song writing, production, and management. I can’t miss a hit when I have such great writers around me.
Does this mean you don’t write your music at all?
All my songs have been written by different song writers like Marioo, Jay Melody, Logic, Magic, Benson, Ndela among others. I want the best so I sample music from each one of these talented song writers. That way I end up with hits.
Why do you refer to yourself as the African Princess?
(Laughs) My manager gave me that name from my dressing in my first song “Nagusagusa”. He said that I looked like a princess and I should consider the name. My fans liked it and it stuck.
What do you like about Kenya?
I’m receiving such love and a huge reception from Kenyans. They love my music and each time I see that then it makes me love Kenya more. I feel indebted to them to keep giving better music.
What brings you to Kenya this time?
I’m here for Coke Studio Africa the second time in a row and this is just humbling.
How’s your second experience been?
Coke Studio opens you up to great experiences and opportunities. For instance, I’ve been paired to collaborate with Skales from Nigeria and there’s a lot of things I’ve learnt from him, and the Nigerian market as well, that I would otherwise have remained oblivious of. He has also learnt a lot from me and the East African market as well. We are both growing our brands trying to widen our reach.
Do you think Swahili music can experience a breakthrough internationally?
My best example is Diamond who’s gone international with Swahili music and keeps flying our flag high across the borders. It’s now crystal clear that good music and a good melody cannot be barred by language barriers. We sing along to lots of music whose meanings we don’t understand.
You have collaborated with a lot of underground artistes, why do you choose to do so and doesn’t it drag your brand behind?
I know how it feels to be down there and in need of someone to prop you up, then they all turn you down. What I’m simply doing is sending the elevator down. I’ve never featured anyone before so I decided to get featured by different artistes in a bid to get them out there and grow their brands to the point where they can stand on their own.
You appear to be very close to Aslay, how do you two relate?
I view him as family. He supports me to the core and is always there to keep me spot on, musically. We’ve been very close and I’d firmly say that he’s played such a mega role towards the brand I have today.
Why did you leave Banana Zorro’s band to concentrate on solo projects?
I have always wanted to go solo but I chose a band after someone advised me that it would grow my voice and the teasing, that I often got of having a childish voice, would finally cease. I took up the challenge and thankfully it worked. I then joined the Tecno Own the Stage Karaoke Contest which acted as a platform to be recognised by my management team. The rest is history.
Do you think music is paying in East Africa and do you live completely off music?
Yes. I live off my music and it does pay pretty well in East Africa, depending on your position in the industry and the size of your brand. All one needs to do is work hard and be patient until it’s time to earn what you’ve always desired. Today, I take part in brand endorsements due to the growth I’ve experienced over the years.
What should we expect from Nandy in the near future?
More great music that will keep enthusing my fans is what you should expect. All I can ask from them is more, and more support until the likes Beyoncé and Rihanna recognise that they have a new force to reckon with.