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EXCLUSIVE: Bien explains why Sauti Sol doesn’t perform on national celebrations

National celebrations in Kenya, like Labour Day which will be celebrated on Monday, usually present an opportunity for local artiste to pocket some extra cash.

The Permanent Presidential Music Commission is normally involved in the selection of the list of musicians who entertain Kenyans purposing to attend the event and also those watching from their homes.

But this is an opportunity that clearly doesn’t appeal to Afropop band Sauti Sol. Bien-Aimé Baraza told Nairobi News that the reason the band has not performed is because of their high charge rates.

“We will never perform in any public holiday celebration because the government cannot afford to pay us. It is the bitter truth,” Bien said.

Bien added that the last time they ever performed on such celebrations was in 2011 and they were only paid Sh40,000.

“We were young then; growing in the industry. We distributed (the money) amongst ourselves and that was all,” he said.

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The Inauma hitmaker also said the band will also never support any political party. Bien also said the reason he would never want to involve himself in politics is that his call is bigger than that.

“We will always stand with the people. My call is to give people hope, sing for people to feel loved and not politics,” he said.

Last year, the band threatened to take legal action against Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition, for using one of their songs during the campaign period without consent.

Sauti Sol said Azimio la Umoja used their single Extravaganza to hype the unveiling of Mr Raila Odinga’s presidential running mate, Martha Karua on the coalition’s social media accounts.

In a statement jointly signed by Bien, Willis Chimano, Polycarp Otieno and Savara Mudigi the band said it had not licensed the song to Azimio la Umoja campaign team.

“We did not give any consent for its use in the announcement of their deputy presidential candidate. Furthermore, our authority to use the composition, which is one of our most distinct compositions, was neither sought nor given,” Sauti Sol said at the time.

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“Using our song Extravaganza without our consent is blatant copyright infringement as directed by section 35, CAP 170 of the Copyright Act of Kenya.”

Extravaganza was released on May 29, 2019 and features Bensoul, Nviiri the Storyteller, Crystal Asige and Kaskazini.

The band also distanced itself from any political groupings.

“We would like to make it very clear to our fans, partners, and associates, we are not aligned to, nor associated with, the Azimio la Umoja, or any other political movement and/or party their presidential aspirants, deputy presidential aspirants, and candidates at large.”

Mr Odinga’s ODM party responded in a statement that they played Sauti Sol’s song on that occasion because they appreciate the band’s work. The party acknowledged that the band is a celebrated group and that was a way of appreciating their music.

Sauti Sol is currently touring across eight countries and has 13 upcoming concerts in the US.

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