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For Holy, Kenyan music kept calling

By Jasmine Atieno
Wednesday, July 14th, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
Holy, a musician and entreprenuer. He shelved his music career for a while as he concentrated on advertising. Photo/PD/Jasmine Atieno

Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine

Dr3am Ville is a Kenyan Multi Genre music group that came into the limelight in 2012. The group consisted of three passionate and talented artists, Mishu, Webb and Rahman Holy.

The trio brought Kenyan music to global spaces after doing huge collaborations with big artistes from Zambia, South Africa, Jamaica, India, Germany and the United States of America.

In 2014, the group, unfortunately separated with its members opting to follow solo career while others tried different waters. 

One of the group members, Edwin Abong’o popularly known as Holy has been in the scenes with hands on a lot of things including artistes management, advertising, running a community based organisation and just recently, made a huge comeback into the music scenes with a completely new genre, Benga. 

The 34-year-old’s comeback has come as a surprise to many including his mum Juliana Abong’o.

She would have preferred him concentrating on his career in advertising, but she has no control over his passion in music. Music to Holy, is a seed that has grown through time. 

“Edwin was a happy child, he loved people and was talkative. I started noticing his interest in music when he was in primary school at Aluny Primary School, in Siaya, where he had joined both the music and drama club.

I was his rehearsal audience and in a way, this made him build confidence because I made him understand just how good his performances were. 

I just did not expect that he would make it a part of his career. I thought it was just the way children explore a lot of things,” Holy’s mother says. 

The foundation

It wasn’t till he joined Barding High School, in Siaya that he dived deeper into music. He found a new environment, which proved a bit hostile, and with no one to confide in, he withdrew himself to focus on writing rhymes, and stories.

In the process, it improved his English performance greatly, while he also discovered a deeper love for rhyming and storytelling.

By the time he completed his secondary education in 2006, his elder brother, Webb Abong’o was already a recording artiste in Nairobi.

He reviewed Holy’s rhyme book and took him to studio. After the first studio session, the brothers worked on their first collaboration. It wasn’t the best, but as a brother, Webb gave him a second chance and he redeemed himself with a better delivery on the next song.

Four years later, they opted to form a team, and scouted for a vocalist as they both were rappers.

After several attempts with various vocalists, they found Mishu, and that’s how Dr3am Ville came to be.

The mother of eight (one deceased) shares that it was hard to finance his sixth born’s education after his secondary school.

She had lost her husband when Holy was only in primary school and even though he had passed his final exams, she just could not afford it.

So, Holy left Siaya after his secondary education with the intentions of getting an opportunity to study in Nairobi while living with the elder brother, only for her to hear later that he was making it big in music. 

“I asked him about it and he told me just how much he loved music. I was surprised that that little seed had grown that big in the city.

But most importantly, I was just happy that he was happy and I knew that he really loved music. So it was okay. You see, it is God that gives everyone their share of talent.

So, unless he is doing something wrong, against the law or such, I am completely happy for him,” shares Holy’s mum. 

Dr3am Ville accorded Holy a rare opportunity to explore the various components of a music career, especially the business side of it, as he juggled in management and marketing too.

Being an artiste, he learnt firsthand, the technicalities of managing corporate relations, and how important such relationships are in the industry. 

And this came in handy when the group split and he decided to join the advertising and artist management scenes. 

“Though we all branched out to explore solo endeavours, Dr3am Ville will always be my family, as we continue supporting each other to date.  I still work with our producers Webb and Roni Da’Vinci,” shares the artiste. 

Making exploits

He has always been intrigued by the diversity of various musical cultures and sounds, which he likes incorporating in his music.

Currently, he is composing more music for film and movie scores, fusing folk, reggae, urban rap and rhumba with his traditional Benga melodies, which has brought a new, yet authentic feel to what already exists within the scenes. 

“I don’t know what to call it, but the feedback we’ve been getting is that it’s authentic, evoking nostalgia and yearning for the elusive bygone era of simplicity and serenity. Something sort of an acquired taste.

I chose that route after Dr3am Ville contributed a single to the first season of Stay series, and the directors commended us for making mature content.

I realised that our film industry needs more family-oriented Kenya music to use,” he shares about his new sound. 

This line of career is never without its equal share of challenges. Holy finds it hard finding a reliable music publisher locally.

Aside from the few that have hit the wave, he reveals that he has over 40 songs, fully produced. 

While Juliana loves every bit of her musical son, her favourite thing about him is being the grandmother of his children.

He is a good father who passionately loves his two children; Angel and Hawi.

She wishes that he would focus more on his career in advertising and less on music, worried this might be taking a lot more of his ‘daddy’ time…but well, he loves what he loves, and she has little control over that.

Jasmine Atieno