Maya Amolo, Mbryo, and M^3, and Lukorito in the studio working on a song.

Spotify and COLORSxSTUDIOS Spotlight African R&B Talent

Sub-Saharan Africa is a hotbed of musical talent, especially when it comes to R&B. Our flagship playlist Tantalizers already highlights some of the smoothest acts in the genre, and now, through a partnership with COLORSxSTUDIOS, we are raising the profile of more African R&B artists.

COLORSxSTUDIOS is a unique visual music platform that features artists performing in front of a striking, single-color backdrop with no other people, effects, or visuals. Its goal is to provide a calm, minimalistic stage that gives the artist room to shine. Spotify partnered with the company for a special recording of A COLORS SHOW, the organization’s signature series. 

In addition to the live audio-visual experience, Spotify and COLORS partnered to host a writing camp for burgeoning and established songwriters, artists, and producers. Taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, over three days, the camp brought together 18 participants from all over the African diaspora and placed a special emphasis on creative collaboration. 

Msaki & Karun writing a song

Msaki and Karun

Several of the songwriters, artists, and producers shared what they’ll be walking away with after the experience. 

What’s the secret to a successful collaboration with others while working on a new piece?

Bien, artist and songwriter: The secret is vulnerability, as well as an open heart and mind.

Karun, artist and songwriter: I think it’s getting to a place where you understand where someone’s head is at and where they want to take the session. Then you meet halfway. That’s something I learned from this session from this writing camp: Everybody has their own method and their own way of expressing, and when you can find a way to kind of make that mesh without getting in each other’s way, it can be really beautiful.

Xenia Manasseh, artist and songwriter: Risk and trust, combined. And openness. That’s it. They’ll give you everything that you need. They’ll come with what they have. I’ll come with what I have. And if we’re both willing to be open with each other, there’s no way that we’re not going to create magic. 

Manana, artist, songwriter, and producer: Humility. To collaborate well I believe you have to leave all ego and arrogance at the door, put the music first, and make that the priority of the session.

Tay Iwar, artist, songwriter, and producer: Openness, positive criticism, patience, and focus . . . every idea has different viability and validity; some are just more effective.

NNAVY, artist and songwriter: A successful songwriting session is one where you feel inspired; where there’s a kind of bubble surrounding the studio and all the people in it. Words are flowing, people are inspired, and every idea makes sense in that moment. Or sometimes a successful songwriting session is when you’ve had an unfinished or blurry idea, then suddenly your lyrics become clearer and you can finally see the direction the track is taking. 

Xenia Manasseh working on a song

Xenia Manasseh

What’s one big takeaway from your songwriting camp experience?

Lisa Oduor-Noah, artist and songwriter: You should always be an avid learner. I think the form a song takes and its melodic qualities are different for so many different artists, especially when you account for different cultural backgrounds. So always be an active learner.

Zowie Kengocha, artist and songwriter: I’ve learned to take risks and freestyle as much as I can, and not be afraid to make mistakes.

Maya Amolo, artist and songwriter: One big takeaway from this experience is that collaboration is everything. 

Ukweli, producer: I had a great experience at the writing camp. Getting to work and talk with African artists has reinvigorated my desire to have more collaborations with artists from all over Africa and the diaspora. 

Lukorito, producer: There’s value in maintaining your unique identity while collaborating. My most rewarding sessions happened when I trusted my instincts and believed in myself, even when collaborating with more established artists. It reinforced that authenticity is crucial for meaningful collaboration. You have to show up!

MAUIMØON/La Soülchyld, artist, songwriter, and producer: It helped reignite my passion for songwriting. It was great being able to see the other incredible writers and how they think about melodies, lyric choices, and vocal performances. As a producer, it helped me want to focus more on my arrangements and sound selection. It was a great experience that gave me a lot of incredible ideas.

M3,, producer: The importance of collaboration and having fun while creating art. Being in different rooms with so many great musicians and just bouncing ideas off each other was fantastic. It was really encouraging seeing how we perfected someone’s vocal idea or baseline from just an idea in their head. The important thing is that everyone was on the same vibe and enjoyed the moment.

Titose, artist and songwriter: Apart from Kenya being extremely beautiful, and the Spotify and COLORS team being so helpful, it was meeting different artists and songwriters from different parts of Africa. Writing with Berhana, Tay Iwar, Maui, and Xenia sparked my creativity and inspired me to try different songwriting processes. They all had different styles and approaches to writing, which inspired me to try new things in my own music and gave me the desire to pick up a new instrument! It was an eye-opening, wholesome experience that solidified the power we all know music to have—bringing people together!

Mbryo, songwriter: There’s always beauty and magic in collaborating with people of diverse cultures who have different ideas on how good music should sound and feel.

MAUIMØON recording a song


Hosting this camp and spotlighting these creators is one way Spotify’s hoping to empower the next generation of emerging artists while celebrating African R&B talent. Listen to more of these artists on our Tantalizers playlist.