Pete Odera’s new song soothes tired souls in tough times
Friday April 23 2021
By BILL ODIDI
- During the current times when people are confronting personal challenges and feeling weighed down by uncertainty about the future, music offers comfort and reassurance.
- It is such optimism that has inspired a new single “I Smile” from the veteran singer, songwriter, producer and church minister, Pete Odera.
- The bouncy track with uplifting lyrics about a brighter day was written by Suzanne Gachukia and the original version of the song recorded by her group Zannaziki for their 1995 album “Nipe Nikupe.”
During the current times when people are confronting personal challenges and feeling weighed down by uncertainty about the future, music offers comfort and reassurance.
It is such optimism that has inspired a new single “I Smile” from the veteran singer, songwriter, producer and church minister, Pete Odera.
The bouncy track with uplifting lyrics about a brighter day was written by Suzanne Gachukia and the original version of the song recorded by her group Zannaziki for their 1995 album “Nipe Nikupe.”
Odera describes the song as having evolved from the original mellow, melancholic tune into its present feel-good R &B sound injected with the soul-stirring gospel.
Since accepting Suzanne’s proposal to record the song there have been four other attempts with different producers which have ended prematurely for different reasons.
The production was finally pulled off, thanks to the creative force of Odera along with Peter “Ulopa” Kibukosya and renowned guitarist Eddie Grey. Victor Kimetto played the organ to provide the spiritual feeling that is an important part of the Odera’s musical identity.
Due to the restrictions of the pandemic, the production of the video, which premiered on YouTube last Sunday, was a family affair with Odera’s wife, Kayla and his two daughters Christine Rose and Ariel Akinyi making up the cast.
“I Smile” is the theme song of a bigger campaign called “Tabasamu” whose objective is to revive the spirits of people and get them back in a positive frame of mind amidst the turbulence of the pandemic and its consequences on life.
“We are not created to just complain and feel downcast,” says Odera. “The message of the music and the video is to help everyone relax, have some fun and to know that we’ll come to a better place soon.”
This is also the first release out of an upcoming album called “The Reconstruction of Pete Odera.”
He explains that this is a celebration of a career of more than 30 years in the music business that started in the early 1990s, when he, Tedd Josiah and Salli Oyugi formed the groundbreaking Contemporary Christian Music group, Hart.
“The music is about the stories of faith, love, life and heartbreak, while the style of music is diverse, transcending R &B, Blues and neo-soul,” says Odera.
Issues of faith are important to Rev Odera and he struggles to understand why, according to various studies, a huge percentage of Kenyans below the age of 35 do not attend church or other places of worship.
“My background may have insulated me from what many young people are struggling with and therefore even my approach towards music is from a different perspective,” says Odera.
His view is that his generation must be very deliberate about bridging the gap that exists between them and the majority of Kenyans who are in their youth.
“My eldest daughter is 21 and I realise that if I was not her dad, then she probably would not know who I was or what I had done in my career. It is my responsibility to use my platform to help the youngsters to navigate through life and to avoid some of the pitfalls that may have befallen us,” he says.
Odera is already looking forward to his next project called “Legends” which will feature a select group of young musicians recording their versions of songs from the Pete Odera repertoire spanning three decades. Also in the works is a book and documentary chronicling his life and career.
At the moment though he is focused on bringing a smile back to the faces of people through his new song. Hopefully by the time the whole album is complete than the current Covid-19 restrictions will have been eased and musicians will be able to perform again so that he can bring his band together again to sing along with concert-goers.
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