Entertainment and LifestylePeople Daily

Best soulful live performers gospel artiste Noel Nderitu

Arguably one of the best soulful live performers in 254, gospel artiste Noel Nderitu talks to Grace Wachira about his raging album, and what keeps him grounded in music

Talk to us about your musical journey.

I have been a solo musician for about five years. I have two albums under my belt — my debut project, My Kind of Music, which was released in 2013, and my most recent, The Bridge, which dropped late last year. I am also heavily involved in music directing live performances for Nairobi’s finest talent.

Growing up, did you always want to venture into music?

I actually picked it up after high school. Music was always in me, I just took too long to find and nurture it.

Why music?

A lot of musicians say ‘music chose them’. In a culture where the arts are frowned upon as a career choice, it is only passion that can drive you straight into the very place society is asking you to avoid.

You play the acoustic guitar, was that your first instrument and do you play any other?

Yes, the acoustic guitar was my first instrument. I picked up the bass soon after, then keys. However, I don’t play bass anymore. That said, I consider voice my primary instrument.

Are you self-taught or did you study music?

A lot of my music skill has been self-taught. Initially, I had an amazing guitar teacher, Manaseh Uzele. However, my voice and piano skills have been sharpened by YouTube University (laughs). Your sound has been described by many as alternative.

Could you talk to us more about it?

I wouldn’t say I specifically chose to do alternative music — it’s just labelled that way because it is not what the majority of artistes pursue. The sound of my music is informed by my influences. You will hear traces of RnB, soul and Afro-influenced sounds in my music.

As a Christian, has it been tough penetrating the market, especially with your style of music?

There are few recording artistes in the alternative scene (though it’s growing) and even fewer who are Christians. I am mostly concerned with sharing an honest expression, I believe that will always draw people in. I have a vibrant set of fans that engage with me and come to my shows, so there is a market for what I do.

Could you talk to us about your recent album, The Bridge.

The Bridge has been well received by my fans. It debuted at number one on iTunes Kenya. It also saw me win a Café Ngoma Award for Best RnB in December and just this month, the single, Perfect, was awarded a Bronze Medal at the Global Music Awards. I am releasing its official video on April 4.

How do you balance your music with other obligations?

Music is my full-time job. All my obligations are music-related, so the thing I have had to learn is prioritising and managing my time efficiently.

You took part in the just-concluded season of Coke Studio Africa. Could you sum up the experience?

It was an awesome experience! I got to work with Africa’s biggest talents as well as network and learn a lot about music business and large-scale music productions.

What do you think about the local music industry as far as professionalism and artistic gifts are concerned?

There is a lot of talent in Kenya. I think we need to learn more about the business end of our craft and develop an undeniable work ethic.

There is no question you’re an amazing live performer. You kill it everytime you take to the stage. What’s your secret?

Playing live allows me to be spontaneous and vulnerable — two things a studio act may struggle to do when performing. I believe all artistes should invest time into their live act. It has enormous potential and live performance will not get out of fashion any time soon.

Musicians you look up to?

I am a huge Mali Music fan. I also love and have learned from Tori Kelly, India Arie, Jonathan McReynolds, Travis Greene and Christon Gray.

What advice would you give to upcoming artistes?

I would advise younger artistes to practice for opportunities that are yet to come. I’d also add — keep a small circle of people who can tell you hard truths and work hard! No one owes you anything based on just talent.

Show More

Related Articles