By Prudence Minayo
Their lyrical content, delivery and stage presence is what should define Kenyan music. Those who have attended H_art the Band shows will agree with this writer that Kenya overflows with talent. The trio style is refreshingly unique and so is their dress code. Here is there story.
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The group is made up of three members. Mordecai Mwinyi who is the lead singer, Wachira Gatama who is the poet and Kenneth Muya, the guitarist.
The journey to the top was no walk in the park. They were set book actors, except Mordecai, at the Kenya National Theatre and performed in other small plays. Fun as it was, the pay was a mere sh300 per performance, and traveling from one county to another to perform the plays was a tiring experience.
Often, they would sleep on the road when they had to perform in distant places. Although they earned a few coins, they felt they needed to switch to music. At first the plan was for Mordecai to sing as Kenneth plays the piano but they decided to bring Wachira, who is more of a poet, on board and they’ve never looked back. The three became a team when they auditioned for a cancer awareness play at the Kenya National Theatre late in 2012.
In 2013, they sang a political song during the election periods and people started asking them what was the name of their band. They hadn’t even thought of themselves as a band before that moment. Before settling on H_art the band, they had played around with other names such as Waluhya na Swag and Young achievers, as they revealed in an interview with Betty Kyallo on K24.
They signed a deal with Penya records and were enrolled in Sauti Sol Academy. Little by little, they grew as a band and started performing in gigs. They then felt ready enough to record a song but the label was hesitant. Through their persistence, the label allowed them to record a song. This was when they released their first hit song Uliza Kiatu (Ask my shoe). The song was a massive success with radio stations playing it followed by TV stations.
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The inspiration for the song was Mordecai’s shoes which were old and worn out. The other two would make fun of his shoes saying that if one needed to know his story all they needed to do was look at his shoes. And if the shoes could talk, then it would narrate their struggles. This song was their breakthrough single as it went on to gain national acclaim. It talked of the struggles of ordinary Kenyans that trekked to work everyday. Among the first radio stations to play it was Kiss FM. Caroline Mutoko played it during the Breakfast show and according to an interview published by The Insider, Caroline later took the boys shopping and bought them shoes.
The boy band released their second song “Nikikutazama” (When I look at you) which was also a massive success played beyond the borders of Kenya. It was a song that appreciated the beauty of a woman as the singer describes how happy he was whenever he saw the woman.
From then on, the band has gained lots of recognition and is one of the best in the country.
In 2019, they released their first album “Made in the Streets.” This is because they came from humble backgrounds with those around the streets being the first people to accept them. The three used to live in Kayole in a single room. The album was also a narration of how they fought to achieve success. It is a work of art with all its songs being entertaining or inspirational or both. The band worked on this album for three years before releasing it. The album features guest artists, like Victoria Kimani and Nyota Ndogo. The major themes are love and individuality but it also contains a political song called ‘Papaya’ that questions the loyalty of politicians and the crimes committed by ordinary people.
The trio were interviewed by Betty Kyallo in 2019 on her then K24 show “Upclose on Weekend With Betty.” Betty asked about their relationship status and they all revealed that they each are in a relationship.
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