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A Kenyan Artists Journey From Berkeley School of Music to Nairobi 

In 2022, I embarked on a year-long journey across Africa, spending 5-12 weeks in each of seven countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, and Nigeria. Kenya was the second stop on my tour, and it was here that I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Xenia, a talented artist I had worked with during her time at Berklee School of Music.


Xenia’s journey is a testament to resilience and dedication. We first met through the Upperclassman Music Group while she was at Berklee. I became her legal advisor, helping her navigate the complex O-1 visa process. This process, prolonged by political hurdles and Xenia’s meticulous pace, saw her staying in Kenya, advancing her music career from Nairobi.


When Xenia returned to Kenya, she found herself amid a vibrant cultural resurgence dubbed “New Nairobi.” This period marked a significant evolution in the local music scene, with genres like hip-hop, R&B, and gengetone coexisting and flourishing. Despite initial uncertainties, Xenia quickly became an integral part of this dynamic ecosystem, collaborating with local artists and gaining a substantial following.


Our conversation in Nairobi was a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It had been over four years since Xenia graduated from Berklee in August 2018. We discussed the challenges and triumphs she faced, from legal battles over her music to her numerous performances and collaborations. Despite these hurdles, Xenia’s journey back home has been fruitful. She released an EP that topped Apple Music charts and worked with many talented artists, further cementing her position in the Nairobi music scene.


Her relationship with Valerie, another talented artist and collaborator, has been a source of mutual support and inspiration. Valerie, who sings, raps, and directs, has also navigated the complexities of the Nairobi music scene. Together, they have faced industry challenges, celebrated successes, and pushed the boundaries of their creative expressions. Their bond exemplifies the importance of having a strong support system in the often turbulent world of music.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Xenia’s journey is her ability to adapt and grow in a constantly changing environment. When she first returned to Kenya, she thought she would stay for just a few months. However, she soon realized the potential of the local music scene and decided to make Nairobi her base. This decision proved to be a turning point in her career. Over the past four years, she has grown both as an artist and as a person, embracing new opportunities and overcoming numerous obstacles.


Her visa approval is a significant milestone, marking the end of a long wait and the beginning of new opportunities. This development coincides with the completion of her latest album, reflecting a perfect alignment of her efforts and the universe’s timing. Her story underscores the importance of patience and trusting the journey, a theme that resonates deeply with anyone facing similar challenges in their creative pursuits.


As Xenia prepares for her next chapter, her journey from Berklee to Nairobi serves as a powerful reminder of the strength found in resilience, adaptability, and community. Her success story is an inspiration, not only to aspiring artists in Kenya but to all who dare to dream and persevere in the face of adversity.


Reflecting on my time in Kenya and my encounters with Xenia and Valerie, I am reminded of the incredible talent and creativity that thrives in this part of the world. Their stories are a testament to the vibrant cultural landscape of Nairobi and the broader East African region. As I continue my journey across the continent, I am excited to see how these artists will shape the future of music and culture, both locally and globally.


Through their music, Xenia and Valerie have shown that it is possible to bridge the gap between different cultures and create something truly unique. Their work not only resonates with audiences in Kenya but also has the potential to reach listeners around the world. As they continue to push the boundaries of their creative expressions, I am confident that they will inspire many more artists to follow in their footsteps and pursue their dreams with unwavering determination.


In conclusion, Xenia’s journey from Berklee School of Music to the vibrant streets of Nairobi is a story of resilience, adaptability, and artistic excellence. Her success serves as a powerful reminder that with patience, perseverance, and a strong support system, anything is possible. I am grateful for the opportunity to witness her journey and look forward to seeing what the future holds for her and the many other talented artists in Kenya.

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