I first heard about Fena Gitu back in 2014. At that time, she was small-scale famous.
Only cool people used to lend her an ear – the type who are capable of staging a bigger demonstration than Boniface Mwangi and Bobi Wine’s supporters if there was ever a shortage of pizza in the country. Those were Fena’s fans.
She still used to do a lot of shows though, something which said a lot about her good connections in the industry.
I remember her being one of the curtain raisers when Wizkid came to Nairobi in 2014.
I was at the front row and as she was performing, people were looking at her like “Who ‘iz’ you?” No one was dancing or singing along.
Everyone was motionless like they were listening to a boring professor of Quantum Physics. Somebody even shouted “Tuletee Octopizzo bana! Huyu anabore (Octopizzo should come on stage. This artiste is boring).”
Flash forward to 2018 and things are very different. Fena is one of the biggest stars in the country – a star that shines brighter than the rest in the constellation.
She has levitated into musical royalty. She has gone from being a niche artiste to dislodging Kenya’s hit-making Goliaths from the top of the charts.
Everyone knows her songs, or at least her name. She no longer appeals to cool kids only but to everyone who loves Kenyan music.
She is now highly sought after, not only by show organisers but by brands as well. From Smirnoff to Marini Naturals, she is cashing in the cheques like a hedge fund manager on Wall Street.
When she steps on stage, there is no longer the silence of a child getting a dressing down from a mother after returning home with muddy attire. Her performances nowadays are characterised by deafening cheers and countless mouths saying “ng’we.”
She blesses the audience by bringing vim, charm and superhuman levels of dedication while the audience blesses her in return by singing along to every noun, verb and phrase.
And she totally deserves her spot at the apex. They don’t call her ‘The Phenomenal Woman’ for nothing. Fena is different, from the way she dresses to the way she structures her songs.
In an age where many artistes sound the same either through the flow or beat, she still manages to offer something fresh. She is the sole owner of her style.
You could search from the sandy beaches of Hawaii to the dusty alleys of Bombay but you wouldn’t find someone who sounds like Fena.
She knows how to switch it up too. Sometimes her flow is staccato and languid while sometimes her ballads are as quick as GIFs. She knows how to select just the right words that will stick to the listener’s mind as well.
BIGGER AND BETTER
When you start singing one of her songs, you are basically signing up to do so until the end because stopping midway is like stopping a Liam Neeson movie just as he is on his way to rescue his daughter.
Even Fena herself knows how far she has come and how much of a big deal she currently is.
In her song “Sijaskia Vibaya”, in which she features the hilarious Njugush, she begins with a comical phone call segment with her friend Khaligraph. In it, she mocks people who used to refuse to work with her.
She then boasts on how she is now the one with the privilege of rejecting features. In the chorus, she also calls herself the ‘Number One Boss Lady’ and correctly acknowledges that there are people who feel bad about it. Totally correct.
Speaking of collaborating with Njugush, Fena has also bridged into a new constituent of creativity.
Previously, we only assumed that various classifications of art creators couldn’t work together. We assumed that musicians could only work with musicians; comedians could only work with fellow comedians and so on.
Fena has shown how fun it can be when different elements of art are fused together and we hope that other artistes will borrow a leaf.
As each day progresses, Fena keeps on running rings around her peers while gathering a battalion of loyal supporters in her wake. As things stand, she is in a good spot. I believe she can be even bigger and break into the larger African market if she keeps it up.
Will she stay winning for years to come? She is the only one with the answer to that.
Over to you Fena!
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