Artiste Muthoni the Drummer Queen says she chose to not only be a musician but also an entrepreneur after she was criticised for her music.
She recounted her journey at Movenpick Hotel during International Women’s Day, where Google launched its’ Women Will Initiative to connect women to digital skills.
“The short answer is the necessity and I wanted to remain in the music industry. Producers would audition me and say the kind of music I was doing would not be fully understood in Kenya and that it will not be appreciated as well,” she said.
Lack of support from the promoters pushed her to look for better ways to pursue her ambitions. “Between 2004 and 2008, I did everything to enter the music business,” Muthoni said.
“The problem is the kind of music I did was not Kenyan. In Kenya there is always someone else saying, ‘I am better than’ and ‘You, you don’t deserve it’,” she said.
The reality was that she still wanted to remain relevant to make a living from the music business.
“The kind of music they wanted us to adjust to I felt it was too little and that would make me untrue to who I am. Therefore, I needed to be me, to receive the benefits and of course daily bread. I needed to invent a gig for myself that could allow me to be myself and others who were like me,” she said.
Muthoni is the founder and CEO of Blankets & Wine, which is East Africa’s premier music experience. Blankets & Wine is a monthly picnic-style family-friendly music festival showcasing emerging genres of urban-African music.
Accepting that she had to be herself was hard, and part of her family did not believe in her succeeding in music. “I did not choose enterprise career, and so I had to make it with the music, and right now I am doing well,” she said.
Despite lamenting poor pay, she is happy she is helping others who are doing creative arts.
“I don’t know if there is a bank cheque that we have ever received that is equivalent to the work that we are doing, but at least we are doing something that will help people in their creativity,” she said.