Kenyan becomes youngest ever winner at the All Africa Music Awards
In 2019 aged just 17, Kenya’s NIKITA KERING’ became the youngest ever winner at the All Africa Music Awards (Afrima), bagging the Best Eastern Africa Female Artiste of the Year and Revelation of the African Continent awards. She gets candid with ALFAYO ONYANGO about her aspirations and finding a balance between school and music
When did you cross paths with music?
My parents say that I started responding to music as a little baby. By age three, I would pick microphones in functions and just start singing.
Later on in kindergarten and Sunday school, I would participate in music sessions and I led the school choir.
Is music your main priority or you have other interests?
Yes, music is a priority at the moment; however, I have many other interests including cooking, baking, cosmetic arts and dancing.
How has the support been so far in your music journey?
My family and friends have been the major support and pillar of my success. They attend all my shows, accompany me for interviews, share my work on social media and cheer me on.
My parents have also supported me financially, shouldering all costs related to my performances. I’m blessed to have such support.
Any mentors and influences along the way?
Well, my biggest mentor was Emmy Kosgei. Through her, I got to have a glimpse of what goes in the behind-the-scenes of many famous artistes, the struggles of working with a colossal crew, and generally bringing out the best in each performance.
The most memorable performance with her would be my first performance at the Kids Festival in 2013. There were over 40,000 people, it was extremely cold, and we had to run because I was about to miss my performance.
In terms of influences, I draw inspiration from many artistes including Daniel Caesar, Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Wizkid and Nasty C.
Would you say you’ve acquired celebrity status?
I’m not really into the label ‘celebrity’, however, I am fully aware that I am a public figure that sets examples for many children and adults.
So, it is important for me to humble myself and keep it cool so as to be relatable to the people that look up to me.
How do you balance school and music?
My music career means I have to put a lot of extra hours unlike many people my age.
I spend a lot of time in music studios, TV and radio interviews, events and voice lessons, among others. I have learnt the delicate art of finding the balance.
Of course, I don’t get as much time as I would like to socialise with my peers. But I really enjoy what I do and so, it’s more of a sacrifice than something that I beat myself upon.
Can you describe the feeling of winning continental awards at a relatively young age?
It is indescribable! As a matter of fact, it didn’t hit me until I came back to Kenya.
For me, the awards are something I have earned rightfully and will celebrate accordingly. However, I will use them as just a stepping-stone to more awards and accolades.
The awards have reassured me that the work I’m doing is paying off and I have much more work to do.
Is there someone special in your life?
What do you enjoy most in your music career?
I like the hype and unpredictability. I think creatives are way more open and adventurous, which is something I love.
I don’t like the pressure to make every song a hit song, rather, I’d like to produce whatever music, whether it’s commercial or not, as long as it is something I relate to.
Who do you aspire to work with locally and internationally?
Locally, it has to be Sauti Sol, Nyashinski, Khaligraph Jones and Camp Mulla (if they were still together).
Internationally, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake (songwriting), Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar would make all my dreams come alive.
Are there any music projects brewing?
Yes, I’m currently working on an Extended Play (EP), that I hope to release in the early months of this year.
What legacy would you like to leave behind?
I hope to be an inspiration to artistes, encouraging them to chase their dreams no matter what because no dream is too big to work towards.
I’d also like to be remembered as a woman who never let my gender and its societal limitations prevent me from reaching my full potential.