Watch Pop Artist Kenishaa Salute Multiculturalism in ‘Amina’ Video
The Bengaluru-bred singer evokes the strength of unity in diversity with lyrics in Swahili and English
Before she became a singer, Bengaluru-based artist Kenishaa Francis (who goes by her first name) was heavily inspired by dance forms like Bachata and Kizomba. “I was always dancing to Afrobeat and Afro music,” she says.
That’s part of the reason why her latest song “Amina” – released via Warner Music India in September –features an Afro groove, plus lyrics in Swahili and English. Kenishaa pairs the rhythms with her affable, spirited vocals, singing about joy and gratitude. “I wanted to also portray my culture of being an Indian as a part of it. So a lot of the beats in the song have that covered,” she adds.
Written whilst she was in Los Angeles in 2019 – Kenishaa studied at Musicians Institute – the artist says she was guided by a whole community of musicians in the U.S. “When I studied in M.I., it just felt like, this was my space, and it just flowed really a lot more easier for me,” she adds. At the same time, “Amina” was created with the help of Kenishaa’s Bengaluru band members, including Afro-French keyboardist Israel Thomas, alongside bassist Ashish Borde and Vishnu R.
She says about working with Thomas, “I suck at playing instruments, so I needed the support of a musician to do this. Israel came home, we sat down and kept thinking about the feelings we wanted to be associated with the song. We just laid out the tune and I began singing.” Another key factor in the sound of “Amina” came with the inclusion of M.T. Aditya Srinivasan, the recordist based out of Chennai. Branching out with his connections with more musicians, Srinivasan brought in more sonic diversity as the song was being finalized over the span of a week.
Several more musicians from different parts of the world joined to create “Amina,” which led Kenishaa to ideating her music video narrative. “Whether it was the audio or the video, I never expected to actually collaborate with so many people from across the globe,” she says. As much as it’s positioned as an Afro-Pop song by the label and the artist, Kenishaa explains that there’s a lot more going on, which is what she wanted to explore through the vibrant music video, showcasing African communities, Bharatnatyam dancers and more. “I basically wanted the song to become everybody’s song. The whole idea was to bring in people from different cultures celebrating each other. We wanted to bring in how love is the universal language.”
In terms of populating the cast, Kenishaa’s professional pursuits in dance, music and even mental health led her to pull out contacts who in turn called on their friends. “You don’t have all the budget in the world, so you need people to come through for you,” she says. All in all, “Amina” brought in a level of response that Kenishaa says she’s never received with her covers. “Now I’m so convinced that what you give, you receive in double.”
Up next, Kenishaa will release “Focus,” influenced by Afro and Arabian rhythms. “With every song, I want to be able to engage with a different culture,” she adds.
Watch the video for “Amina” below.