As young artistes try their lack in more funky and urban genres of music, one University of Nairobi has ventured into a field of Afro fusion, usually associated with more mature audiences. Don Abbih Nguma, a third year Journalism student at UoN’s school of journalism, dons several shambalas and a couple of silver rings which act as his trade mark. With a semi acoustic guitar permanently slung on his shoulder, Don describes his entry into the music arena as natural call which he eagerly answered
“I was in class four when I was asked by the teacher on duty to lead a song during the assembly session. I later joined the church choir where I further honed my skills. All through, people kept complimenting my voice, that’s when I knew that my fate was already sealed. Music was me and I was music,” says Abbih.
He managed to record his first song – a peace song for a political rally – when he was in form two but due to lack of regulation the song was stolen by another artiste who claimed the credit. He currently working on a mini album composed of four songs; Nimekubali, kawaida, the love song, and first love, which he plans to release soon.
Knowing too well how piracy operates he prefers to perform his songs live with the help of his band “the unveiled band” which consist of ten members. The band has produced a few songs including ‘what about tomorrow?’ which earned the members an invite to Kenya’s BBC station to perform.
“Live music pays a lot than recording your songs in CDs which require an investment. Having a band to back you up is also a plus for live performance,” adds Abbih.
His rich vocals, passion coupled with a great personality has seen him perform in events such as the East Africa music awards, “Amani kwanza” a peace event organized by Ghetto Radio and several high profile events held at the National Museum. Abbih was one of the artistes that was unveiled at the ‘unveiled concert’ last month where notable artistes including Guardian angel and Samukat entertained fans.
However the path to stardom hasn’t been with its share of challenges. Notably, he singles out lack of support from his dad and an unfair music industry that is hard to break into as a budding artiste
“My dad initially never supported my music but I forged on. Thank God he is starting to warm up to my music now to the point of surprising me by attending some of my shows. The music industry is another thing all together…it doesn’t appreciate upcoming artiste. Promoters won’t bet on you if you not an established artiste so getting a show is really hard.”
Music has seen him mingle and dine with the who is who in the music industry and share the stage with big names like Kwame Rigiii whom he considers a mentor but his encounter with the renowned producer R-Kay tops the list.
“My highest moment was when I had a chance to talk with R-Kay who really inspired me. He is so humble and creative. I felt like my prayer had been answered…just talking to him has really influenced my music.”
Attending evening classes allows him to focus on his music during the day as well as juggle his side hustle of printing and selling t-shirts. His +254 brand of tshirts and wall drapes is particularly popular with students because they are cost-friendly. He actively uses his face book account ‘Don Abbih Nguma’ to reach out to his growing fan base and clients alike. But he says the investment he has made in music is starting to pay off.
“Music pays well especially if you are an established artiste but depending on the number of shows we get and from my hustles in a month, I can make Sh30,000 to 40,000”
He has big plans for the future including a budding relationship.
“At the moment I am single, but I am starting to see someone so we are taking things slowly. I hope to have at least two albums, start a music academy and do a number of collabos with big names and be a household name allover Africa,” says the ambitious artiste.
In his free time he likes watching movies, hanging out with friends and sipping his favorite drink of blackcurrant and fresh mango juice.
He offers a quick advice to those interested in venturing into the world of music
“Passion alone will not make you an artiste but passion with a sense of direction is important. Use other peoples mistakes as a guiding rope and strive to be original in you music,” advices Abbih.