By Prudence Minayo
Vanessa Mdee is one of the most sought after female artists in the region. She doubles as a radio and TV host and has played the role of Stomi on MTV Shuga program.
She has interviewed A-list artists in the music industry like Kelly Rowland, Rick Ross, Stella Mwangi among others. Mdee has worked as a brand ambassador for some of the biggest companies in East Africa and featured as a judge in the first ever season of East Africa Got Talent competition.
Age and Background
Vanessa was born on 7th June 1988 in Arusha, Tanzania. She grew up in New York, Paris, Nairobi and Arusha.
She attended Arusha Modern High School before proceeding to Catholic University of Eastern Africa for a law degree.
In 2007, she auditioned for the MTV VJ search in Dar es Salaam after which she was a co-hosted Coca Cola Chart Express.
In 2008, she joined the team Stay alive whose ambassador was Kelly Rowland. She also became part of a campaign that was fighting to eradicate malaria called Malaria No More.
In 2009, she was part of Sauti Za Busara International Music Festival where she hosted a couple of shows.
In 2011, she joined 102.5 Choice FM where she hosted a show called the Hitlist. In the show, she got the chance to interview a number of musicians from across the world including Stella Mwangi, Nazizi, Kelly Rowland, Marc Miller, Miguel, Rick Ross, Xtatic and Camp Mulla.
In 2011, she was MTV’s voice at the UNAIDS Mali Youth Summit.
In 2012, she hosted MTV Base Meets, this was a show that gave young Africans across the world the chance to sit with some of the influential leaders. During the show, she was able to interact with high profile people including former Nigerian president Hon. Olusegun Obasanjo and Russell Simmons among others. She also hosted the Tanzanian Music Awards called Kili Music Awards and a talent search named Epic Bongo Star Search (EBSS).
In 2013, she was a speaker at the World Economic Forum in South Africa on behalf of the GAVI Alliance. It was in relation to the reduction in price of the HPV vaccine. On behalf of Global Health Strategies, she spoke in Malaysia on cervical cancer at the Global Forum for Cervical Cancer Prevention. In October, she spoke on a panel comprising of Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni at the UN General Assembly.
The same year (2013), she hosted MTV Base’s Hunter Oasis, Epic Bongo Star Search Season 7, and Duke Challenge season 1 and 2.
In 2014, she became the Crown Paints ambassador in Tanzania.
In 2015, she became the brand ambassador for Samsung Tanzania.
In 2019, she was one of the judges at the premier season of East Africa Got Talent (EAGT).
In 2012, she officially launched her music career and released a song with Ommy Dimpoz called Me and You.
In January 2013, she released her first single named Closer and the song was a massive success. Within it’s first week of release, it had over 30,000 downloads, something no other Tanzanian artist had ever achieved. The song also stayed on top of the charts for 13 consecutive weeks.
In November, she dropped her second single called Come Over. The song was a great hot and appeared on charts in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria among others.
In June 2014, she released another single named Hawajui. She then featured in Coke Studio Africa Season 2 where she collaborated and performed with Burna Boy from Nigeria. She also shared the stage with some big names in the music industry in the Kili Music Tour. She was also part of Serengeti Music tour alongside other artists like, Diamond Platinumz, Victoria Kimani, Davido and Pato Ranking.
She collaborated with Barnabas Elias to release a sensational Afro Pop known as Siri. It is about a young man who tempts a young bride with promises of material things. On December, he video for Hawajui was released on MTV Base.
In March 2015, she released the single Nobody But Me and the next month performed at Nigeria’s Gidi Culture Festival where she was the only artist representing Tanzania.
In May 2015, alongside 7 other women from different countries, she sang a song celebrating girl power. The song promoted the Poverty is Sexist campaign and showed how empowering young women was a great tool in eliminating poverty and also called out against inequality and injustice.
In 2016, she was among the artists who headlined for international singers Chris Brown and Wizkid at the Mombasa Rocks Festival in Kenya. She also took part in the Fiesta tour in Tanzania and One Africa Music Festival in Houston.
In 2018, she released an album that featured 18 songs.
- In June 2015, she bagged the Kilimanjaro Music Awards for Female Artist of the Year and Best Female Entertainer.
- In December 2014, she won Best Female Artist in Eastern Africa at the AFRIMA awards in Lagos, Nigeria.
- In 2014, she won R&B Song of the Year for the song Closer at the Kilimanjaro Music Awards in Tanzania.
- She won Bongo Pop Song of the year at the Kilimanjaro Tanzania Music Awards in 2013 and Collaboration of the Year.
- In 2012, she received the United Nations Association of Young Professionals (UNA-YP) at a New York City gala. The award was for being an African change maker.
- She was also awarded by the Global Health and Diplomacy for her work in advocacy.
- The GAVI Alliance awarded her in 2012 for her support in the initiation of free vaccination for children across Tanzania.
The award winning singer was in a relationship with Juma Jux for six years. They broke up in 2018 and kept it a secret until Vanessa revealed it in an interview in 2019.
The singer then got involved with Rotimi and revealed in an interview that she knew they were meant to be two days after meeting each other. They have tattoos of each other’s name on their bodies and they got engaged towards the end of 2020.