Sounds of Africa: Creators Bring the Continent to Life on Spotify
May 25 marks Africa Day, which recognizes the creation of the African Union and offers a chance to reflect on the progress that has been made across the continent since 1963. To commemorate the occasion, Spotify is celebrating local voices through the new Sounds of Africa campaign.
The continent is home to an incredible array of talented individuals who are sharing their unique creativity, storytelling, and sounds with the world. So from social media to on-platform efforts, this campaign spotlights emerging African talent in music and podcasting.
“African creators are doing amazing things in the music and audio content creation space. Moreover, the stories of this crop of creatives are helping others find their passions and their voices,” said Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, Spotify’s Managing Director for Sub-Saharan Africa.
“They’re teachers, friends, and companions on people’s daily commute. They’re ambassadors for the continent, sharing the sounds of Africa. And, at Spotify, we are committed to helping them do just that,” Jocelyne added.
Spotify also announced the creation of the Africa Podcast Grant to help highlight voices from the continent. The $100,000 fund is open to 10 creators, and they can be up-and-coming or established. This fund aims to amplify underrepresented stories and perspectives in podcasting.
As a part of Sounds of Africa, Spotify is highlighting six African artists and six African podcasters through a digital-first campaign to drive users to their various Spotify pages. For the Record caught up with each creator to learn more about what Africa Day means to them.
Feyikemi Abudu and Jola Ayeye: I Said What I Said podcast
“Africa Day, for us, is a day to celebrate Africans and people of African descent all over the world. It allows us to celebrate our growing cultural impacts on the globe while highlighting our diversity in different elements of art, music, fashion, food, and culture. We should always pay homage to Africans who stand out and who have made an effort to place Africa on the map. It should be a time to celebrate the champs of African creatives, businesses, and people across the continent.”
Joan, Kibz, Nyamita, and Owen: The Sandwich Podcast
“Africa Day reminds us of the sense of individuality that we have been able to achieve as a continent and celebrates the uniqueness of our African culture. This is also an opportunity for different creators to interact. This brings us unity, which we have always celebrated and will always continue to celebrate each and every day.”
Eli Mwenda and Oscar Koome: Mantalk.ke podcast
“Africa Day for us is a time of African renaissance, African celebration, and people celebrating a continent that is rich with culture and wildlife.”
Taymesan: Tea With Tay podcast
“Africa Day is for celebrating Africa’s heritage and cultural impact on the world while highlighting our uniqueness and diversity, expressed through music, art, craft, advocacy, and fashion.
“It is also very important to recognize outstanding Africans whose efforts have served to place Africa on the global map. The triumphs of African creatives, leaders of industry, and pioneers from across the continent must be celebrated as a reminder of how special we are.”
Nicole Engelbrecht: True Crime South Africa podcast
“For me, Africa Day is about celebrating the immense pool of talent we have on this continent. Whether it’s singing or podcasting, Africans have amazing stories to tell through their art, and I think Africa Day provides us with a platform for more people to hear and celebrate our uniqueness.”
Gugulethu Nyatsumba: After School Is After School with Sis G.U podcast
“Africa Day is a day where we get to celebrate our continent’s rich cultural identity and our many different heritages. To me, it’s a day where I get to be that much prouder of my roots, my people, and my continent. I try my best to learn something new about this beautiful environment I live in.”
“To be honest, I feel like every day is Africa Day. But I’m grateful that it’s now a day that we’re using to celebrate the fact that there are 54 countries that make up this continent and that so much can be achieved when we move in one accord. It’s really something to celebrate.
“I feel like I became a much better writer when I began to tell the stories of my people and myself within my country and within my continent because there’s no place like Africa. The stories are a way to connect with the people. So when I sing ‘how far with Lagos on a Monday/traffic is as bad as the news on the front page/judging by my salary/I might as well be unpaid,’ trust me, the people who are living where I live understand what I’m talking about.”
“As an artist, Africa Day means reflecting on all the influences the continent has given me. There is so much raw talent here, and the range of sounds is crazy. The more I become a student of my art, the more I see how the diversity of the sounds I’m drawn to—everything from jazz to soul, funk, and folk—end up bringing me right back to this continent.
“Living in, and listening to, Africa already affects the kinds of rhythms I come up with. When I grew up as a kid, I loved the sound of Nollywood, and the drama of it. The soundtrack literally tells you the whole story because it’s so vivid. There’s also the fact that there are so many languages here. Every language is its own song, and hearing all Nigeria’s languages has definitely influenced my melodies and harmonies—the flow, the inflections, cadences, and the drops.
“I try to incorporate sounds from my part of Nigeria specifically, like the drum patterns, chanting vocals, and Pidgin English. My dad is from Okrika in the south of Nigeria, and my Mom is Igbo in the southeast, so I grew up hearing their languages, and they each have their own unique eclectic sound that I bring to my own music.”
“Africa Day is a time to celebrate each and every thing that comes from Africa. We have literally anything here. Very beautiful, very rich and bold. And I feel like it’s just a day to share it with the world because that sort of energy should never be contained.
“The music coming out of Africa is rich. It is bold. It is colorful. It is dramatic. And the more you listen to it, I think the more you get hooked. So I just hope that listeners can intentionally take the time to soak in the beauty that comes from here. It’s just amazing. And it’s always changing and developing into something because there are so many different tribes, cultures, and sounds from different parts of Africa that sound nothing like each other. But they all come together and sound so beautiful.”
“Africa Day is a special day to celebrate African pride and how diverse and unique we are.
“My music is dominated by various drums, which are symbolic of African sounds, and there’s use of vernacular on my lyrical content to invite different Africans in listening to my music.”
“Africa Day to me is such a symbolic reminder for us to reconnect with who we are as Africans and the African diaspora.
“Our continent shows off its affluence with a plethora of resources, cultures, stories, beliefs, people, ways of living, ways of thinking, and music. All that we are makes us an abundant people who give the world so much soul, depth, character, and excitement. Though we have conquered many adversities and continue to be faced with many, we are such a gift to the global ecosystem. We are the heartbeat.
“I would say my music represents a lot of what our constantly evolving, vast, modern sounds and stories are. Thematically, my music seeks to celebrate the human story, the Black experience, and the African glory that we are. It explores how we connect generations and explore new ideas without ever losing the essence of who we are. The perspective of life I share celebrates our diverse selves while using English and my mother tongue, isiZulu, to awaken healing, joy, and spirit. There is an inspired way my music expresses a melting pot of soundscapes while allowing the indigenous knowledge systems and sounds to take center stage.”
Now that you’ve had a chance to hear from these creators, check out the African Heat playlist on Spotify.