Elizabeth ‘Sikin’ Rege is a Kenyan native who was raised in Ethiopia. Growing up she was exposed to a variety of musical influences that sparked her love for music at a young age; at age 4 she was enrolled in music school in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. She is now a musician at Sauti Academy, (a Penya Africa program) and along with her singing career she’s also the head of marketing at Epic Live Nation and a co-host at her university, United States International University (USIS), campus radio station: USIU 99.9FM.
I initially found out about Sikin after watching the YouTube clip (located at the bottom of this post) of her doing a cover of India Aries’ “I Am Not My Hair”. I was impressed by the talent and thought I should share it with our readers this week. Rise Africa received the opportunity to speak with Elizabeth. Here’s what she had to say.…
Rise Africa: How would you define yourself and your music/musical interests?
Sikin: I believe I have a unique, powerful and soulful voice; and with my musical influences being Miriam Makeba, Atemi, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Tanya Stephens and Christina Aguilera, my style is eclectic.
RA: What musical instrument(s) do you play and when did you start playing them?
S: At 4, I was enrolled in a music school in Ethiopia where I learned how to play piano. My parents felt that music would be a good extracurricular activity and would help develop my discipline. I immediately fell in love. After moving back to Kenya around the age of 11 I took up flute lessons in Brookhouse (my new school in Kenya), which was the cause of my current yearning for music. At 15 I took up voice lessons and with the help of a friend, taught myself how to play the guitar.
RA: What African music artist(s) inspires you?
S: My African inspirations include Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie, Zahara, Atemi and Dela. I believe that they are very powerful ladies in the entertainment industry. They all have a very unique sound with which I draw my unique sound from.
RA: Who are your African hero(s) and/or role model(s)?
S: Miriam Makeba, I would say is my African heroine. She was the first artist from Africa to popularize African music around the world. As well as being an artist, she was heavily involved in the campaigns that went on in South Africa against apartheid.
Other than that, her life story is so inspirational. She battled and won the fight against breast cancer. She lost her African citizenship and spent time abroad where she continued to perform and build a name for herself. She received a Grammy Award, which I hope to achieve as well.
She achieved so much in life and her music was tremendously inspirational for me. I hope to one day achieve as much or even more than she did.
RA: How do you think African music could get better exposure in other continents?
S: To begin with, as Africans, our industry I believe has not yet reached the standard of music internationally. A lot of the time we find individuals who wake up one day and decide they want to be a musician; they get that track, lay down their lyrics in an hour or so and decide they have made it. We need to attain that seriousness and discipline we see in the Western world. You have people like Beyoncé who spend hours and hours in the studio on one track making sure it is perfect. On top of that constant daily vocal classes, dance classes and so on. They take it very seriously.
In regards to exposure, I believe that we need to find a way to deal with pirating music. How are we as a community meant to earn a living and get a means to push our music if we have EVERYONE getting our music for free? We need to support and push more music from our respective countries. For example, Nigerians are very good at getting exposure, which I believe is a result of Nigerians in the outside continents pushing their music into the clubs, radio stations etc. We need our countrymen to represent us out there.
RA: What are your thoughts on the recent Kenyan elections?
S: I, like a number of Kenyans, had prepared myself for the worst. But I was still hoping and praying that everything would go smoothly and that we would learn to get rid of these tribal lines our ancestors had drawn. I believe that everyone is equal; one should not be judged by the constituency they hail from. Ones’ tribe, race, or sex should not dictate what type of person they are or what type of jobs they deserve to have and so on. We as the youth need to take control and get rid of this discrimination and hate. It is taking us nowhere.
I am content at this moment though… I have noticed that our current president has taken strides to ensure that there is peace and understanding within the tribes of our country.
RA: Is there anything you would like fans and readers to know about you as ‘Sikin’ and/or Elizabeth Rege?
I am a very down to earth person and very sociable. Basketball is my passion. I haven’t played seriously in a while though. I study music at Sauti Academy – a place that is really helping me explore my talent. Other than music, I am currently a senior at USIU studying Psychology. I hope to combine my love for both music and psychology one day in music therapy – a field I believe has not yet been explored in our country.
I also have an interest in radio. Currently I am a co-host on a radio show on USIU 99.9FM. I really enjoy anything that involves music.
I am a marketing manager for EPIC Nation as well as Santa Fe Lounge – a club located at The Mall, Westland.
I am very busy juggling all of these things, but I manage. Life is about the hustle, and nothing comes easy.
RA: “Africa Is Done Suffering”, what does it mean to you or what are you thoughts about the phrase?
S: Africa as a whole has been mistreated, violated, torn, drained and abused. But the suffering must end! It is more than just us as people, but our land as well. Our men have been killed, women raped, children starved – we have suffered. Our land drained of its resources, beauty, life and radiance. What more do we have to go through? How long do we have to cry in pain? We deserve better as a people, as a nation, as a continent.
RA: Lastly, where may our readers find you and your music?
S: My music hasn’t been officially released, I’ve been doing a lot of work in the studio these last few months. But once out, you can find my music on: Twitter, Facebook Page, and soundcloud. Read More