Wyre, From Kenya to Kingston Image

by Tanaka Tiki Roberts

African reggae artiste Wyre visits Jamaica for the very first time to shoot the video for "Nakupenda Pia " with Jamaican songbird Alaine

2013 has been going rather great for Kenyan born reggae artiste Wyre. Earlier this May the artiste snagged the Best New Entertainer award at the International Reggae and World Music Award over fast rising acts such as Chronixx, No-Maddz and Tommy Lee. Despite of his over 10 years in the music business, the artiste shared he was still overwhelmingly surprised and humbled by the award, as it symbolized his break unto the international scene. Wyre, who is also a Samsung brand ambassador expressed "I was really amazed at the response that they got online in terms of voting. I think all of Africa was voting for me, it was a mad buzz- people were on twitter and Facebook and constantly voting and I think that's what got me the award."

That night he would also perform at the award ceremony with the legendary saxophonist Dean Fraser, which he told Jamaicansmusic.com was definitely a highlight of the year so far.

Jamaicansmusic.com met up with the artiste last week during his first visit to Jamaica, a long time dream of his. He was hosted by the 50 Days In Africa (50 DNA) contingent consisting of film makers Donisha Prendergast and Mykal Cushnie.

Some may know the name Wyre from his previous collaboration with Cecile and Peetah and Gramps Morgan from Morgan Heritage.  Wyre spoke of African reggae artistes' challenges when it comes to gaining exposure beyond the borders of Africa and as such he strategizes that collaborations are the best vehicle. "What that has done for me is, it's helped me to get a lot of AirPlay outside of Kenya," he explained- adding, "because they are relevant on that side just by virtue of me having a song with them I'm going to get airplay and people are going to know me more." After years of being in the business, for him it is tapping into the global fan base of his counterparts through collaborations that has been giving him more recognition. He most recently aligned himself with  Jamaican songstress Alaine.

The two artistes have had a bit of a history together. In  2009 both artistes appeared on Arif Cooper's Relationship Riddim and in 2011 Wyre opened for Alaine at a concert in Nairobi. Although they never officially met in those instances, Wyre admired her work and hope they would get the chance to work together. When his team reached out to her, the track Nakupenda Pia (I Love You Too) came to be.

The shooting of the collaboration's official music video was the main reason for his trip to the island. 

Directed by Donisha Prendergast, the video tracks the storyline of a man  (Wyre) coming to Jamaica from Kenya to surprise his love interest (Alaine) which leads to a celebration. Although the video is shot in Jamaica, it still  incorporates strong Kenyan influences including Kenyan dances. As an African reggae artiste Wyre ensures that his identity is maintained, whether by singing in his native tongue Swahili or by including the Kenyan Flag in his videos, both of which will be included in this particular video. Interestingly, Alaine also tries her hand with Swahili in the song, something Wyre was very excited about.

Wyre would also have his first performance in Jamaica at the Tuff Gong Studio during "Connections from Kenya to Kingston" an acoustic session where Kelissa and Tarrus Riley also performed. During his performance he sang in Swahili  as well as introduce his audience to Kenyan dances such as the "Piki Piki" (Motor cycle in Swahili). East Africa was well represented that night. He had the opportunity to interview Donisha, Kelissa and Tarrus Riley as well. These conversations about Africa were enlightening and provocative to say the least.

The artiste shared his gratitude towards Donisha Prendergast's hospitality and most of all the connections she has helped him to forge during his stay. His mind is set on being the trailblazer in the Kenyan music industry where international recognition is concerned. "Kenya has a couple of dancehall and reggae artistes down there, so what I'm trying to do is open the doors cause honestly if one of us manages to crack the international industry - it's going to open doors for the rest of East Africa and I want to be that guy who manages to kick the door open," he professed.

He sets sight on more collaboration, naming Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley as his ultimate aspiration. 17 years strong and still going, the very humble artiste stressed his appreciation of his fans who have supported him throughout. With no intentions to stop now he gears up to champion the Kenyan music industry and break down barriers so that Wyre will become a household name within the reggae circuits worldwide. 

Later this year we can expect the release of Wyre's third album. "That's probably the album that will get recognition, hopefully in the Caribbean and Jamaica in particular- and that's been my lifelong dream." It will feature several collaborations including Alaine and Gramps Morgan. He is also to shoot a video with popular African artiste 2Face for a collaboration on 2Face's latest album. He concluded simply with, "Look out for Wyre and East Africa"

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