I sheltered him from the rain … and we got together for love
For many years, artistes and many others in the Kenyan music industry have assumed Nairobi to be the main hub for all matters entertainment. While there is truth to this due to the concentration of opportunities and platforms in the capital, it does not really mean that artists in other areas stand no chance at all.
The lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic proved this when all artistes were left to freely scramble for online audience.
For the first time, it was fair grounds. And many new names came into the limelight during this period. One of them is coast-based afro-zouk musician Charles Otieno, known by his stage name Mabe Lee.
While he has been in the industry for a long time, he started gaining popularity in 2019 with hit songs, such as Marry Me, Jehova, Alone and recently released a new jam Raha, currently taking over the coastal airwaves. As his wife of seven years, Regina Njeri, shares, music is his absolute happy place.
Come rain, come love
The 26-year-old artiste was born and raised in Mombasa, where he also attended both primary and secondary schools before joining Utalii College in Kilifi County in 2015 to pursue a hospitality course. The love birds’ meeting, as Regina shares, was like a fairytale, and their seven-year-old son crowned their love.
“He was a new neighbour at the apartment I lived in. One night, it rained heavily so I decided to collect some rain water by leaving my basins outside. There were thunderstorms and I was really scared, but I gathered the courage to go outside to check if my basins were collecting water and there he was…soaked!
“He had just arrived home from work and had forgotten his keys at his workplace. I invited him to take shelter in my space… and well, the rest is history,” shares Regina.
While he was employed at a hotel in Mombasa at the time, his heart was already in music and he had released a few songs, which he quickly got Regina to listen. She was impressed, despite the fact that she could not categorise his style.
“I remember there was a time he requested me to give my view on his music. I was amazed. Although he has created music from different genres, I can’t say he has shifted from any as many people would assume. The way I know him, he did not want to be categorised — he always wants to be a free spirit, singing about whatever inspires him be it love music, or gospel or just life in general,” shares Mabe Lee’s wife.
Playing in the same team
It has not always been easy juggling between his full time job, family and music, but he puts his best foot forward, because he has always wanted to be a top artist.
This means working extra hard towards his musical career. Being his wife has not always been easy, but as Regina shares, she has accepted this as her place in his life.
“It’s not me, but the family sometimes gets frustrated, because he puts too much of his time in the music. I understand that that’s where I come in as his woman to offer support mentally and emotionally. Sometimes, he gets too deep in his song writing that I find myself talking to myself! I hate those moments. He spends most of his off days and free time in studio. As frustrating as it gets, it pays off when the music is released and I am honestly his number one fan. But I have to understand that we are in the same team and his win is my win and vice versa,” she intimates.
Rising above betrayal
Being an underground musician has served Mabe Lee many challenges in different proportions. As the wife and mother of one shares, one of the biggest was in 2022 when vixens and models who were to appear in one of his videos failed to show up during the shoot. And this was not just disappointing, it also broke his heart.
“He was forced to postpone shooting Raha video, because all his models did not show up. Most of these people were actually his friends, yet they did that to him. This was one of the most discouraging moments, but it did not break him… he rescheduled, got new models and did the video. If that didn’t break him, then I don’t know what will. The thing I love the most about him is that he always learns and is open to new learning opportunities. If he does something and it does not work out right, he will always do things differently,” she shares.
One of the couple’s favourite moments was when their son was born. Regina got pregnant on their first year of being together and Charles has been the most loving father. He wishes for his son to follow in his music footsteps.
Despite the ups and downs, Regina feels lucky that he is a responsible man to his family.
“He is more than just a partner; he is a natural leader. He makes it easy for me, takes so much off my back when he does things right. I get to feel more like a woman,” she shares.
Her favourite song as she intimates, is the recently released Raha. She feels that the song is a dedication to her despite him not really saying it.
“I love them all. My favourite though has got to be Raha! He calls me his African queen in the intro… I feel this song is my dedication though I am yet to confirm,” says Regina.