To commemorate Women’s History Month this year, we will be spotlighting a new female artist every day of the month. Some of these women you may know, others you may have heard of and some will be entirely new discoveries. The aim is to spotlight the remarkable young women from around Africa, who are finding their feet through music and giving women a voice of their own.
23-year old Kenyan singer Xenia Manasseh is a with a pretty impressive track record: she’s sang backup for Gloria Estefan and Beyonce’s background singers, the MAMAs, opened for Rema’s first Nairobi show, dropped her debut EP and recently been selected to be part of Mr Eazi’s emPawa music program this year.
The fast-rising star, who is also a Berklee College of Music alum has actually been drawn to music since she was a child, taking up a string of musical instruments from the piano to the drums and even the guitar. But her decision to commit full time to the music did not come for several years, when a then 17 year-old Xenia gained admission to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. During her years there, she found a tribe of other Kenyan women connected by their heritage, lost all her belongings in a devastating fire and move to Atlanta to sign under The UpperClassMen music group (an indie record label of Grammy-winners producers, Ayo and Keyz.)
Now she’s moved back to Kenya and is gearing up to take on the scene out there. She’s been actively working on and releasing music for over two years according to her Soundcloud page. On “For Your Consideration”, her voice rolls out ever so softly over the guitar-led beat, which leaves room for her vocals to gain your attention. On the track, she croons about fear and doubt, and recognising your worth early before you become set in your ways. Elsewhere on “DON’T GO”, she links up with producer duo Ayo and Keyz to deliver the perfect relatable tune to any romantic relationship heartbreak.
Her 2019 debut was actually meant to come two years prior, but it was not the right time as she ran into many complications. Xenia eventually unwrapped her sonically-charged project ‘Falling Apart’ after falling into the team that would help bring it to life effortlessly after her time at Berklee. In an interview with Okay Africa, Xenia said “everything I needed for it just happened. People came into my life and were like “I really want to work with you” and we ended up helping each other out. That’s alignment.”
The 6-track tape sees Xenia work through a range of emotions as she mourns a relationship gone sour, “See Me” the EP’s opener finds Xenia at her most vulnerable as she pleads with a love interest to show just how much his affection is for her. This same longing is seen on “Don’t Go” as she regrets ending a relationship because her love interest is the only one who gets her. On “When It’s Over” Xenia’s buttery smooth vocals muse the inevitable end of her relationship, but not without acknowledging how susceptible she is to falling for his tricks again.
If you love r&b then you’ll love Xenia Manessah.
Featured image credits/instagram: diaryofjose
Tami is a lover of astrology, music and women. Tweet your fave female artistes at her @tamimak_