Bien-Aime (French for beloved) Baraza is a Kenyan, vocalist, songwriter and guitarist with a soulful style of singing. He has written great songs for the likes of Wendy Kimani Amos and Josh, Elani, amongst others.
Bien-Aime joined Sauti Sol from its beginning in 2006 and has been an active member of the group and the creation of its first two albums, Mwanzo, 2008, and Sol Filosofia, 2011.
He also wrote the controversial ‘Nishike’ in the group’s latest album Live and Die in Africa, 2015.
The group also consists of Savara Mudigi (Vocalist, Drummer and Producer), Polycarp Otieno (Guitarist and Producer), and Willis Austin Chimano (Vocalist, keytar and saxophone player).
Bien graduated from the United States International University in 2011 with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies.
Speaking of his inspiration in writing his songs he says women are his greatest inspiration;
“I love to write songs. And women inspire me. My thought process equates songs to women; to an extent I call our songs my women. Lazizi is the hot girl at the bar. Zosi is the good sweet girl who goes to church. Mama Papa and Soma Kijana are the voices of my mother.
While on stage, these hit singles are among my trophies. Some women like Wera, Subira, Mapacha, Awinja and Asubuhi are wife material–girls who knew me in the hood before the lights, camera and action.
They remind me of Sauti Sol days before success and the magical struggle that our music has been. They are show for sacrifice and represent the road we’ve tread”.
I caught up with him at the grand finale of #TECNOOwnTheStage for a quickie and this was what went down.
Wendiva Blaze: Hello Bien-Aime Baraza, I am Wendy from 360Nobs, would like to ask you a few quick-questions
Bien-Aime: Hello Wendy, please proceed.
Wendiva Blaze: What is your favorite color?
Bien-Aime Baraza: Black.
Wendiva Blaze: Why black?
Bien-Aime Baraza: Because it has no form. Its raw and can be created from.
Wendiva Blaze: You seem to be infusing Nigerian contents in your music as noticed in the recent Live and Die In Africa album? Who will you say has been your favorite artist so far in the Nigerian music scene?
Bien-Aime Baraza: I will say, Yemi. Yemi and M.I. They are both established acts and they are doing very well for themselves as international brands.
Wendiva Blaze: Lol, you are not just saying this because they are your fellow judges on #TecnoOwnTheStage?
Bien laughs, before continuing; No, they are good at what they are doing.
Wendiva Blaze: About your controversial Nishike video, what would you describe as the reason it was banned?
Bien-Aime Baraza: Our society is sort-of-biased. If Nicki Minaj or one American star shot that video,the same people would give it accolades. It’s quite unfair.
I quite agree with Bien in that regard seeing as such music videos as Nishike always get the cut by regulating bodies in Nigeria and Africa at large. The video oozes sex appeal, yes, but it definitely did not deserve to be cut from public view seeing as songs and videos from the West contain and display worse and still get airplay.
After the interview, we posed for a few snaps and I felt great. Remember I already told you, it was all I looked forward to preceding the #TecnoOwnTheStage. Bien-Aime was one of my highlights of that night.
As a lover of African music, Sauti Sol definitely represents the African continent in their songs and music videos. As a fan of Bien-Aime Baraza, Bien is a warm soul, filled with so much humor and humility you actually feel his personality radiate across the room.
My quickie with Bien taught me two things, 1) Black men are beautiful and 2) More African artistes should emulate Sauti Sol.
Photo Credit, SautiSol