Only one year into their music career and Kenya’s only girl duo are topping charts and are hot on the street. Our writer Anyiko Owoko pinned down Becky Sangolo and Carol Kamweru, who simply go by the names: Becky and Carol, on their upward trajectory, experience at Coke Studio and everything they like cooked up in fire.
Band BeCa’s hugely successful songs “Toka”, “Brathe” and “Tonight”, have something about them that is reminiscent of the female empowerment theme in famous TLC hits like “Scrub”. This is something that sets Band BeCa apart from other singers. They are power vocalists with a story to tell and out to change lives.
Today I am meeting the 22-year olds at the Sarova Stanley’s Courtyard after a Coke Studio Press Conference. It immediately becomes obvious that they nurture a strong vision for their brand and crave for a change that somehow supersedes their maturity and experience in the industry. Becky insists that they “…want to be seen as serious artists. It’s so sad when international artists come to perform in Kenya and there are no female artists to share a platform with. Well we are here and we are doing the same work as others and are hoping to see more shows include local female talent at major performances”.
Band BeCa just got onto Coke Studio Africa this year, paired alongside two of the most acclaimed rappers Africa has to offer this decade: AKA (South Africa) and Olamide (Nigeria). The duo features on the show’s Big Break segment and they are returning for the second year in a row. The segment gives the chance for up and coming acts to collaborate with industry greats. On this aspect of the show both artists agree that Coke Studio is doing a great job. According to Carol: “Our experience at Coke Studio Africa was out of this world! It’s the biggest platform we’ve been on so far and it was a pleasure to work with AKA and Olamide. It was a musical fantasy – from the studio, staff to food – it was amazing!”
Just as their voices seamlessly harmonise, so are most of their interests, even in food. Band BeCa say that they both love grilled or fried chicken wings or pork ribs served with coleslaw and fries or any creamy sides. Becky says, “Grilled matoke is my favourite dish, in fact I had some at Coke Studio but the best is at my mother’s native home in Taita. In the morning we have them grilled, lunch-time they are cooked and mixed with sweet potato and cassava and in the evening they are fried dry without soup.” Carol on the other hand says that she isn’t particular when it comes to food and likes to get help while cooking in the kitchen. “Because I am not a fan of cooking, I don’t like being alone in the kitchen. My quick fix is making Ugali and Stew for 4 people. Surprisingly I can make that but somehow my rice never comes out the way I want it to.”
Becky loves to cook alone. She says, “I don’t like to get help in the kitchen you know how it goes – too many cooks spoil the broth! I love cooking easy dishes like Pilau” she adds, smiling, “It’s actually not hard to make because all you have to do is throw all the ingredients in the rice.” Raised by a Chef, Becky touts her mother’s nyama choma and kuku choma as the best there is. She says, “There is this thing she does while marinating that will have you licking your fingers […] It’s a secret recipe though, all I know is that she adds curry powder and rosemary leaves to the mix and that she makes it herself.”
Looking into the future, Band BeCa confirm that they will be releasing more music. “Probably sooner than our Coke Studio episode airs” – Carol says, adding: “We will do more shows and concerts from next year because we don’t want to just be studio artists but live performers as well.” Together they conclude that: “We are looking forward to joining Coke Studio again because culture exchange expands your mind. We noticed how our collaborators at Coke Studio carried themselves. They were humble irrespective of the fact that they have performed alongside major artists, teaching us to always be humble and share our expertise even after we’ve grown into a big brand.”