Noel Nderitu is an award-winning Kenyan singer/songwriter who describes his music as soulful. While he does both gospel and secular music, Noel does not like being boxed into a certain label.
His album, ‘The Bridge’, debuted at number 1 on iTunes Kenya charts and saw him win 2017’s R&B Act at the Café Ngoma Awards. In 2018, his single ‘Perfect’ won a Bronze Medal making him the only African recipient among the category’s winner.
He spoke to KenyanVibe about his musical journey, new album, and more.
If you could summarise your journey in just one word, what would it be?
Wow, that’s I hard question! I guess it would be patience. Silencing the voices that keep saying, ‘you should be much further along by now’ and just doing what I can with what I have as I appreciate the process.
You intend on releasing an album by the end of October, is that relevant in this day and age?
Different things work for different artistes. My decision to release an album is informed by the data I have on what my audience is drawn to. About 70% of my streamed content is on albums and not singles, that lets me know what those who listen to my music want.
That might not be another artiste’s reality and that’s okay. Find out what works for you, what your audience wants and package your product in a manner that is palatable to how they consume your content.
What special about this one?
It’s unapologetically me. I primarily produce music to give expression to what’s within me as opposed to focusing on what everyone else in the industry is doing and designing content to suit what’s selling. My music is an expression of Noel.
The quarantine period resulted in a deeper level of soul searching since all gigs were cancelled and hence I had more time to be home and think about what the next step is for me. This album is, in part, a product of that. I did something productive with quarantine (giggles).
How would you describe your sound? What do you want your music to achieve?
Soul-full is how I would describe it. Most of my songs are but an overflow of either what is happening in my heart or my conversations with God. I just want to express the gift in me and hope it impacts the people that it’s meant to reach.
What have been the challenges of following this path as far as music is concerned?
There are many common challenges we face as artistes. For example, adapting to the ever and quick changing nature of music consumption habits and trends; some of those changes have been very unpredictable.
Last year we were depending on live, on-stage performances as a key way to earn a living from our music. No one ever thought that we would have to, for a season, make do with performances designed for online platforms.
What dreams do you have for your future in this industry?
I would like to pour myself into others, what some call mentorship. I want to help others become the best versions of themselves. That is what Men of Soul is intended to achieve in part, create a platform for those that are gifted but might not necessarily have the exposure they are looking for.
‘Fill Me’ what was the inspiration behind this song?
I was in a time of transition. Actually, the entire ‘The Bridge’ album was about me going through a defining moment of transition. It was then that I made up my mind that I was going to pursue a career in music full time. I decided to go to the deep end.
To be sure that one is at the bull’s eye of their purpose brings much joy and fulfillment.
‘Fill Me’ was about me expressing my heart to God, me crying out for help and sharing that conversation with the world.
What inspires your songwriting?
My faith in God, I don’t think I would be a musician if I didn’t have a relationship with God. I believe that when we meet God, we have ultimately met Love.
So, I don’t differentiate my songs and entitle some as love songs and others as gospel songs. To me, they are all born from the same place, inspired by a God who is Love Personified.
At the end of your life, what conversation would you want to have with yourself?
I would like to have the assurance at that moment in time that I explored every possible opportunity that I could. To know that then, I can stand before God and hear Him say, “Well done!”