Awendo, Kenya — A Kenyan music producer is taking his work to remote villages to record up-and-coming artists on location to offer something new and different for Kenya’s competitive music industry.
Producer Presta George imagined how difficult it must be for village artists to get their songs on the radio, let alone become famous.
And that’s where George found his calling – in the southwest town of Awendo.
But the town of 16,000 people is not where he does most of his recordings.
“I though it wise to bring these studios to the local people, so that at least they can compete, or they can sell their products,” George said.
Every weekend George packs all the equipment he needs to record complete albums on location and in remote areas and hits the road.
The country roads are inaccessible by car so, he travels by motorcycle – balancing instruments, a laptop, and recording equipment.
From soloists to church choirs, this traveling producer’s goal is to find music that otherwise wouldn’t get distributed.
In the remote village of Ko’molo Rume, George records the choir of the Obama Seventh-Day Adventist Church, named after the U.S. President Barack Obama, whose father was from Kenya.
Choir leader Hockey Otieno says George helped them record four albums, which would not have been possible otherwise in their village of less than 1,000 people.
“This opportunity where we can get a studio where we are will make us air out the good talents that we have, which could not be heard at all,” Otieno said.
Making his clients’ dreams a reality can come at a cost for George as many village artists cannot afford to pay for production.
But George says it is worth the risk to discover up-and-coming talent that would otherwise get missed by Nairobi’s big production houses.
Jackson Rakama, known by his stage name “Jegede,” is a Nairobi recording artist and music producer.
“If you want to be successful in the music business, you have to move to Nairobi… unfortunately. So, the idea of moving studio is a very brilliant idea,” Rakama said. “You take the studio to the people so that they can get that quality. We should do more of that so that we can empower the local artists so that they can get access to the, you know, quality audios.”
Kenya’s music industry insiders say success comes down to technology and the popularity of artists.
George says he’s confident his travelling studio can get ahead of the competition.