Valerie Kimani is the stunning, fresh new face of world music.
Being the recent winner of the first ever reality show in East Africa Tusker Project Fame, Valerie’s energy, enthusiasm and incredible voice saw her walking away with the title of the best singer in the competition, and in turn secured her a three year recording contract with top South African recording company, Gallo Record Company.
At 23 years old, the entire experience has set young Valerie into whirlwind media frenzy and seen her become a household name overnight in her country. With her head firmly on her shoulders, the young star is as humble now as she was entering the competition and her focus and determination has seen her taking her recording experience by the horns. Valerie has recently walked out of the studio with a mature and sophisticated debut album – ‘Baisikeli’.
Recorded between Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, Valerie brought her songs to the attention of top South African urban producer D-Rex, known for his ability to create massive hits for artists such as Thandiswa and Kabelo (TKZee) amongst others. He added some subtle touches to her East Africa recordings and mixed the album. Closer home, Valerie has worked with the cream of the crop as far as producers and songwriters go within East Africa; the talented Eric Wainaina, Tim “Ennovator” Rimbui, Kanjii Mbugua, veteran Jack Odongo of African Heritage and the legendary Kassongo wa Kanema of the world-famous Super Mazembe. Valerie also travelled to Kampala and teamed up with prolific producers/group “First Love” and recorded a couple of songs including a duet with Ugandan crooner Maurice Kirya.
Further down south, Valerie also has a stunning song written and produced by another one of South Africa’s leading producer/songwriter Theo Kgosinkwe, a member of South Africa’s best Afro-Pop groups ‘Mafikizolo’. Not having satisfied her craving for musical exploration, she also recorded 2 more tracks whilst in South Africa; one with Joe Nina, a prolific musician, respected producer turned film star and Spijo, one of South Africa’s most promising upcoming jazz producer and songwriter.
Her first song and video release, Besame Mucho (Kiss Me A Lot) is a Spanish rendition of the jazz standard written by the Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velazquez. The track has been made famous over the years by legendary singers such as The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Valerie does great justice to the classic with very little effort involved. One would be mistaken for believing the song was written exclusively for her. The rest of the album consists of material sung in English, Swahili and her native Kenyan tongue Kikuyu.
Her video was shot in Johannesburg by Ash Dibbens. Ash has directed numerous music videos for such diverse artists as: Arthur Mafokate, LeboM “Lion King”, Rebecca MalopeSkwatta Kamp, Brown Dash and many more distinguished artists. Dibben’s music videos have received numerous accolades, including over twenty no.1 voted videos, a Channel O award, numerous front page headlines and videos on various compilation dvds.
She is currently finishing her final year at University where she is studying for a degree in Mass Communication. Her love for self-development, people and poetry keep her grounded and balanced and often provides the inspiration for her song writing.
Her jazzy influences and maturity remind one of Cesaria Evora with a youthful energy. Drawing influences from all the legendary ladies of the musical world, Valerie is a spontaneous and enthusiastic artist with an energy that engages her audience immediately. She cites artists such as Miriam Makeba and Norah Jones as being instrumental in her move towards music.
To date she has performed at some key music events including the Kijani International Music Festival held in Nairobi. She also performed alongside India’s ‘Pop Idols’ finalist Amit Sana and India’s Project Fame winner Ruprekha Banerjee at a unique show dubbed “East meets East” in Nairobi recently as well as entertaining guests at Miss Universe Tanzania held at the Movenpick Hotel in Dar-es-Salaam and performing in front of Tanzania’s Prime Minister at a function held in 2007. She also performed alongside Nigeria’s 2 Face Idibia and South Africa’s songstress Thandiswa at the inaugural BBC Africa Radio Awards held in May 2007 at the Safari Park. Her album launch in South Africa was held on in a show that featured none other than South Africa’s finest Jazz/Opera songstress Sibongile Khumalo. In December 2007 she toured as opening act for 2008 Grammy Award Winner (Best Traditional Pop Album Category) Adult-Contemporary singer Michael Buble, (www.michealbuble.com), a Canadian artist with over 16 million albums as he embarked on his South African tour. She performed songs off her album to crowds of over 20,000 people and got a standing ovation for her performance.
Having already shared the stage with such high profile acts, it is clear that Valerie has no fear of the limelight and has embraced it with ease, despite her youth and recent entry into the music scene. She was recently featured prominently in SABC’s acclaimed TV show, Weekend Live and also performed in front of South Africa’s media fraternity at a listening party held at Johannesburg’s famous cultural hub, Design Quarter as well as at a major showcase held at the Village Walk Mall in Sandton, Johannesburg.
A beautiful, organic and wholesome young woman, Valerie’s star is rising faster every day. With an active buzz around her name despite having only recently released her debut album yet, she has been set up appropriately for the world to receive her talent.
A definite star to look out for!
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