Music fans, industry professionals, artists and exhibitors gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, for ONGEA! 2017 on the first day of the Eastern Africa music summit.
The four-day event opens daily at 12pm, drawing artists, associations, bands, booking agents, collective management organisations, digital distributors, educational institutions, media houses, record labels, regulators and technical suppliers from Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
“The turnout on the first day was bigger than we expected,” founder of ONGEA! Mike Strano said on Thursday. “I have never seen visitors queue on day one. We also have a good number of international guests, recording labels, festival bookers and artists.”
For upcoming artists, there is a studio run by PHAT! Intellectual Property and Artville Music, where anyone can record their demo for free. It is here that Mdundo, an online music publisher and distributor, will attempt a world record for the longest song with the most artists.
An open mic will run daily from 12.30pm to 2pm, with auditions for Sauti Academy – which has offered two one-year scholarships – on Saturday and Sunday.
The event will shift gears every night from 6pm to 10pm with 29 musicians from Cameroon, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda lined up for showcase performances that will be observed by festival bookers. The bookers include Jess White of Mozambique’s AZGO festival and IGODA festival circuit, Eric Karengera of Isaano, Kigali!Up and I am Kigali festivals, Tshepo Nzimande of Moshito in South Africa as well as Herman Kabubi of Bayimba and DOADOA festivals in Uganda. They have each committed to booking at least one act from ONGEA! to perform at their festivals this year.
While visitors streamed into the Sarit expo centre, the side events series kicked off with an energetic open mic session where budding talent took the stage before a panel of judges. It was followed by two industry discussions: the first seeking to answer the question, “Is music education relevant to the industry?” with a panel of educators drawn from universities and music schools.
“Classical music education may be relevant to artists today but it’s not necessary. I’m not sure a singer needs to know how to read music notes,” Natalie Lukkanaer of Sauti Academy said.
Serro, a pop artist who is a student at Sauti Academy, said, “While the formal education system teaches the technical aspects of music, it does not allow the self-expression and interpretation that artists find in other industry-led training institutions. For example, I am an African and I want my uniqueness to reflect in my music”.
In the second discussion, a panel of artists and event organisers tackled the issue of sound engineering and the production of live performances. The day ended with the Mdundo Music Awards and live performances.
This second edition of the annual summit is taking place at Sarit Centre Expo Hall in Westlands. Entry is free.