Coke Studio’s First Female Music Producer: Viola Karuri

Kenyan singer Viola Karuri, known for the tracks “Leo” featuring Barnaba Classic and “Milele” featuring Collo, shot to fame for her Swahili cover of “Despacito” by Louis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, which gained her a much-appreciated popularity around East Africa.

She has since been making waves in the industry and is finally showing her other musical side, with work as a producer. On Coke Studio Africa 2019, Viola produces a host of female artists from Boity (South Africa), Nazizi (Kenya), Keysha (Tanzania) and Lioness (Namibia) on a special episode involving some of Africa’s women that are trailblazing in music.

A musical journey through cultures

A graduate of Berklee School of Music, Karuri’s decision to venture into music began when she was won over by Tshala Muana’s music video for the song “Dezo Dezo” at the age of eight - a clear memory for her. Working a lot in New York as a music engineer in different studios prior to moving back to Kenya, she first came onto the music scene in 2008. Having studied music production and engineering, she would go on to co-produce and release her first album titled “Everything”.

The Ogopa-Coke connection

Her 2019 debut on Coke Studio Africa makes her the first female to feature on the show as a music producer. Viola talks about her first major production stint, saying: “Working at Coke Studio Africa has broadened my music horizons ridiculously. I have learnt a lot from seeing how other music producers on the show work alongside the artists… It’s been such an honour for me to produce artists I never even thought I would ever meet, let alone work with.”

Prior to the show, Viola had the opportunity to work with Coke Studio’s Music Director, Lucas of famed record label - Ogopa DJs, as his protégé, and she says: “Lucas is a musical genius, when you couple that with his wealth of knowledge and experience, it is truly an honour to work under his musical direction.”

As she works to promote her music around the East Africa region, Viola is working on lending her skills to the industry by producing even more tracks.

Other Coke Studio Africa 2019 music producers include from Nigeria: Krizbeatz and Gospelondebeatz, Young DLC (Zimbabwe), Majic Mike (Kenya), Rophnan (Ethiopia) and Lizer (Tanzania).