08.05.2017

Kenyo Baly, king of the soca and much more

KENYO BALY was ONE OF THE FOUR YOUNG TALENTS WHO appeared ON THE PÉPITES STAGE ON SATURDAY, MAY 6 AT LOTERIE FARM. ALTHOUGH HE WON THE SOCA RUMBLE THIS YEAR FOR THE SECOND TIME, HE IS ALSO DEVELOPING OUTSIDE OF CARNAVAL, IN THE WORLD OF REGGAE AND RNB.

Like many Saint-Martin artists, Kenya Baly started music at church. At the age of six, he sang in the choir at the Christian Assembly in La Savane. "At the time, I did not want to be a singer, I just enjoyed singing," he remembers. Two years later, he began learning piano and drums, first at Michael Maxwell’s school, The Music Workshop, and then at the Paul Emmanuel School at the age of eleven.

After graduating from middle school at Mont des Accords, he decided to go live in New York with his aunt. There, he joined a public high school with a very good music department and became a soloist for the choir. "The more I practiced, the more I liked it. I fell in love with music, and it started to become a dream," he confides.

He returned to the island in 2013 and enrolled in eleventh grade in Sint Maarten. He won first prize for singing in the Teen Times contest, while Jabz won for rap. Kenyo Baly also ended up winning the St Maarten Star Search competition, as well as the Telcell competition. He went back to New York, where he graduated from high school in 2014.

"I then decided not to go to college so that I could pursue my dream in music," he explains. His parents supported this project 100%: "I am very grateful, because since I was born they always let me express myself." He stayed for a while in New York and gave concerts in clubs and lounge bars. He was chosen for The Voice in Los Angeles, where he reached the final auditions but remained on the waiting list, since each coach had already completed their team. He returned to Sint Maarten for Carnaval in 2015 and then returned to New York to continue giving concerts. In 2016, he was convinced to return to the island and participated in the Soca Rumble, which he won with his song Wild Fete. In 2017, he repeated his victory with his song Who Yuh Fuh, which is playing nonstop on local radio stations. The music video, posted online on April 15, has already been viewed over 18,000 times. So although he mainly sang RNB and reggae, he began to do soca. "I liked soca, but I had never wanted to do it. I finally tried and adored it," he declares. Ever since, he has been generally ranked among soca artists, even though outside of Carnaval he returns to his preferred genres. He is also very often requested to sing the Saint-Martin anthem in various ceremonies on the island, such as the inauguration of Carnaval on the French side this past February.

He is currently working on recording an EP that should include six songs with the British DJ and producer Rich Bueno, whom he met in Saint-Martin. While waiting to be able to hear the EP in its entirety, the pop reggae song "Do you ever think about me?” should be released on June 27. All his songs are also available to listen to and download online. "I write most of my own songs. I think that makes them more authentic. They are inspired by my life, without being too personal." At 21, he doesn’t want to be just a singer, but an author and composer as well.

Kenyo Baly was one of the four young talents who appeared on Saturday, May 6, at the Pépites concert at Loterie Farm. He already knew the three other artists well and assures: "The talent will be there. We all have different styles and it is rare to see different musical genres in the same show. I am very happy to take part in a large production like this one."

Crédits photo : Artistic Drive

Fanny Fontan

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