Some of us would probably fret if asked to speak fluently in a new language for the first time. Now imagine singing perfectly in that new language. Sounds like rocket science but the diva trio behind the Coke Studio Africa stars: Trina, Ivlyn and Mayonde have done it so gracefully, week after week. They never had a problem belting in Portuguese when working with Mozambican singer Neyma or singing in Nigerian dialect while with Di’Ja or other artistes.
“Being a linguist and a lover of languages, singing in Portuguese was so much fun. Neyma had a way of making the entire process exciting,” says Ivlyn who sings soprano while Trina, the tenor of the group simply describes it as “being in an art class for the first time”.
To complement these two voices was Mayonde’s flawless alto and you’ve got the perfect sync of Back Ground Vocalists that turned every Coke Studio Africa mash up into an unforgettable tune.While they all agree that all seasons of Coke Studio Africa have been unique in their own way, Trina feels that season III stands out because of the synergy in the music team. Working with American R&B music star NE-YO was also a plus – an experience Ivlyn wouldn’t trade for anything.
As for Trina, she values the genuine appreciation she got from everyone for her music and creativity. “Seeing how happy everybody was to just work hard and commit to making music together was the most satisfying moment I have ever had as a musician.”But as coordinated and as beautiful as they may sound, rehearsals to achieve such perfection required a lot of hard work and attention to details under the guidance of music director celebrated South African musician Zwai Bala. They had their work cut out, doing roughly 60 mash ups for the entire season, with around five mash up recording every week for months. This is what Ivlyn calls ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears.’
But how did they keep up? Well, they started working on the mash ups six weeks before the recording of the show began. Band coordinator DJ Space also made sure all the girls had recordings of the mash ups prior to a new week. They would then refresh their memories early in the morning before the artistes came on set.
According to the divas, it’s hard to pick a favourite artiste when you have worked with such a dynamic and talented pool. Trina however singles out 2Face Idibia, M.I, Chameleone, Yemi Alade, Jua Cali, Ice Prince, Sauti Sol, Olamide and Navio as her favourites.
“Yemi Alade is by far the most talented female artiste I’ve ever worked with. She’s like the African Beyonce!”
Ivlyn says she enjoyed working with Flavour and Juliana Kanyomozi because they were patient yet perfectionists and paid attention to detail. As for nerves, the divas’ ritual just before hitting the stage was a lot of encouragement; “prayer, hot water and honey and I was good to go,” notes Ivlyn. The BGVs were such a match made in heaven that they remain inseparable even after the Coke Studio Africa recording.
Mayonde just released her debut album: Magic in the Air and the trio has plans of forming a group together.Ivlyn is currently working on her debut reggae gospel album to be released in 2016. Trina is on the verge of launching her fashion blog; Fashion Clef. My, oh my, what can’t these girls do?