November 22, 2010 – It was most definitely the biggest neo soul concert Kenya has seen thus far and of course it was brought to you by Capital FM and her friends; namely Kiwi (Smiling Feet), DT Dobie, Monica Kanari and Button designs.
On Saturday night at the Zen Gardens neo soul music lovers turned up in a few hundreds to feast their eyes and ears on music a la live by UK duo Hill St Soul.
They of the “Pieces” fame were on their first trip to East Africa and their excitement reverberated on the beautifully decked out stage.
It was a star studded gathering that: apart from the CFM family of Italia, Chao, and Maqbul you could spot the likes of Fidel Odinga, George Lutta, Zawadi Nyong’o and many many others.
First up was Kevin Mbugua – whose TV presenter sister Janet Mbugua cheered on religiously – he sat on a chair and performed his well known hits, “Elevator Love” and “Elsewhere” plus several others.
His deep baritone captivated the audience and especially the ladies as he set the mood for the event.
Just before he got of the stage the talented musician was joined by a more bubbly personality, better known as June Gachui.
She is the one who reached out to the audience with quirky songs such as “I love my Nokia” and discussions with Mbugua. Gachui did her solo bit with background vocals from her sister Angela who sings at the Mavuno Church.
“I have never seen her perform before but I think she is amazing!” said Maureen Sika, the brand manager for Sprite.
The concert, dubbed the ‘Lounge Unplugged’ started at about 6pm with music from Capital FM’s DJ Andre and wound up shortly past 2am, after Hill St Soul’s lead singer Hillary Mwelwa was called back for an encore.
“It is my first time here in Kenya and I’m very excited to be here,” she told Capital Lifestyle.
“I am working on a project which involves a mini-tour of Africa, and Kenya was definitely going to be a part of that. So I am very glad to be here,” she says in a thick London accent.
Hillary, Zambian, moved to the UK when she was five years old and has lived there ever since. While working at a bank because the ‘money was good’, she decided to take a year out to pursue music.
“I know it sounds cliché but for me music is everything. It’s like therapy. My sisters used to get irritated cause I was like a regular juke-box. I still am!”
Hillary completed her degree in biological sciences but she ditched that to team up with producer Victor Redwood-Sawyerr, whom she formed the group Hill St Soul with.
“From there everything kinda just fell into place.”
Four albums later, Hill St Soul is still going strong and is working on her next album.
“Doing music in the UK is very challenging. You get something out and in no time there is something else that has been released. What helps is if you’re a song-writer too, cause then there is a lot of work to do. What also happens is that many artists forget it’s a business and so it can get tricky.”
Hills, as her friends call her, also digs shoes and some soul food.
To check out more pictures of the event, click here.