‘Last Dance’: 17 years in the making as Sauti Sol says adios

“We have rehearsed for our final show ‘last dance’ for 17 years,” says Bien-Aime Baraza, lead singer of Kenyan band Sauti Sol as they take their last performance together as a group.

The band on Thursday night took to the stage to a sold-out concert in which they charged a whopping Sh20,000 for what they dubbed their ‘VIP Show,’.

And if that was not enough, over the weekend they added 200 more slots for Sh25,000 each which sold out in a day.

The Afropop band had in May made a shocking announcement in that the group was disbanding after 17 years together and members would individually go on an indefinite hiatus after the conclusion of the final farewell concert scheduled for November 4 in Nairobi at Uhuru Gardens.

As the band prepared for their final show, on Tuesday they announced that they had partnered with Coke Studio for their upcoming highly anticipated concert dubbed ‘Sol Fest’, which will mark their last performance as a group before parting ways.

Coke Studio, through its parent company Coca-Cola, will now be the official soft drink partner for the festival.

Isabelle Kariuki-Rostom, Coca-Cola’s Marketing Director East and Central Africa, said the partnership will see attendees receive an array of exciting on-site and engagement activities through which they could win exclusive merchandise.

“Passion drives everything we do at Coca-Cola, and nothing gets people moving, celebrating and enjoying life like live music. Music, like sharing a Coca-Cola, brings people together, and when we mix them together, it creates real magic,” she said.

“Our goal for Coke Studio is to always be music-driven and fan-focused, bringing unique music and music experiences to the forefront. We are thrilled to partner with Sol Fest to share this experience with fans.

The four-man band, made up of Bien Aime-Baraza, Mudigi Savara, Polycarp Otieno and Willis Austin Chimano, sparked controversy after announcing plans to stage a two-part festival at Uhuru Gardens in November this year.

The high-flying band, who are fresh from their Europe and USA tours and last weekend during the Oktobafest made a cameo with Nyashinsky, will also be staging, for the relatively less-endowed folks, a ‘Fan Show’ whose tickets sold for Sh6,500.

Speaking about the upcoming concerts, the award-winning band assured fans that they would get value for their money, adding that they would play all the fan favorites, leaving a lasting impression.

“Each performance will be infused with a sense of deep love and gratitude, as the ensemble delivers their timeless hits and fan favourites that have left an indelible mark on our collective memories,” they added.

With five albums and over 40 songs to their name, the band has promised to release a final album for their fans as a fitting reflection of their musical journey together.

Last year the band was forced to apologise during their annual Sol Fest following public uproar over their short-lived performance during the 2022 second edition.

The concert took place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on the evening of December 17.

Concertgoers expressed their disappointment online, lamenting that the quartet, being the night’s main act, mismanaged their time on stage.

The Kenyan group has won several local and international awards over their 18-year-long career, among them the Best African Act at the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards. In 2021, Sauti Sol received a Grammy certificate for the group’s feature on Nigerian artist Burna Boy’s album “Twice as Tall”, which won the Global Music Album award.

Despite Sauti Sol’s long list of accomplishments, Bien, the fourth member of the group and vocalist, listed performing and dancing alongside former President Barack Obama as a memorable moment.

“We have been so lucky. We have so many moments, but I think dancing with former US President Barack Obama was one of them,” he said.

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