Thursday, 7 April 2011
MEET VIOLA KARURI, THE NEW KID TAKING OVER THE BLOCK
Viola Karuri is a Kenyan-born and based vocalist. She started singing at an early age in school choral productions.
While in High School, she and some friends formed a girl group called Sobriety that comprised of 5 girls, one of them being local artiste, Amani. After completing high school, the group was signed by a Record Company – Shielton Entertainment (now TrueBlaq Entertainment) – and were in the process of recording their first album when a few of the members left to attend University, and Viola got accepted into the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
In January 2001, Viola moved to Boston to pursue an education in Music. While there, she schooled with Kenyan artist Eric Wainaina and toured with him promoting his Award-winning album, Sawa Sawa. She graduated in 2005 with a degree in Music Production and Engineering, and a Concentration in Vocal Performance.
She moved to New York in 2005 to work as a Musician and Audio Engineer. She put together a band, which then went into the studio in October 2007 to record her album Everything. It was completed in October 2008 and released into the US market in November of the same year. She did an Album tour in the US and played major venues like The Hard Rock Café, Boston and The Groove, NYC.
After a permanent move back home in January 2009, she has put together a new band locally, Akala and officially launched her debut album Everything in November, 2009.
Now meet Viola Karuri...
How would you describe yourself. Who is Viola Karuri?
Viola Karuri is many things: a vocalist, songwriter, producer, audio engineer, but mostly, just a music-lover!
You have a rich background of music. What do you have planned for 2011?
Performing a lot and producing more of my themed-shows which happen several times a year - one coming up soon, will keep you posted. I'd also like to release a couple more videos this year. So it'll be quite a busy one!
Already you have released Nakupenda, a beautiful single, take us through the journey of creating the audio and video for the track...
I wrote Nakupenda a number of years back, it was actually one of the first songs I wrote for my album, Everything. No need to say that it was inspired by a great love! After completing the writing and arranging process, I put together my band in New York and practiced for about 2 months then went into the studio and recorded the whole album. I worked with Ogopa on the Nakupenda video - my first video ever!!! Because they're very good at what they do and they didn't disappoint! I really love this video and have received very positive feedback on it so far.
What have you learned during the period that you have been in the Kenyan music industry?
That hard work and perseverance pays off! Many more doors close than windows open but that's life, right? You have to have super-thick skin to survive in this industry!
When you are not doing music, what are you up to?
I read to relax! I know that may sound boring but there's nothing as good as curling up with a good book, dosing off after a few pages, then waking up and starting all over again!!! I also love to travel. Let's just say that if I had time, I'd have one of those around-the-world holidays every year!
You have performed in various international platforms outside the country. Tell me a bit about that?
Most of those opportunities came about in the US where I went to school at Berklee College of Music and through that, was able to meet some amazing musicians and perform with them. There's nothing as exhilarating as sharing a stage with someone you look up to. I once ran into Jonathan Butler in a restaurant in NYC and we jammed until the restaurant had to kick us out because they were closing for the night! Imagine my, and his, surprise when he showed up for Sierra Jazz in Nairobi last year and I was on the line-up too! I've also performed with Lalah Hathaway and Abraham Laboriel.
Where can we get your album, Everything?
Locally you can get it at various supermarkets, as well as the Silverbird stores. Internationally, You can get it at iTunes, Cdbaby, Amazon and Napster.
Before the fame, what were you doing?
Come to think of it, I've never done anything other than music! Before I got into performing professionally, I was an audio engineer in various studios in NYC, before that I was in music school, before that I was perambulating around the country during music fests!!! My whole life has revolved around music and hopefully, I'll be at it throughout my lifetime, for I AM living my dream!