LADY S - some things stay unknown
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it
-- Omar Khayyam
By Stevens Muendo
Lady S (Sharon Wangwe), 24, a singer, died in a road accident along Thika Road, Nairobi, on Monday evening. Picture by Boniface Mwangi Two weeks ago, Sharon Wangwe and I were sharing dinner in a Nairobi restaurant as she briefed me on the latest gains in her music career.
There was nothing particularly unusual about our meeting. As part of my job, I often meet artistes for information about the local music industry or just for a chat.
That evening we dined, as we watched the salsa dance. "I would want to learn how to do salsa and probably integrate it in my next album," she joked, as the couples on the dance floor made seductive moves.
But Lady S, as many had come to know the leading female rapper, was probably more excited about her invitation to perform in the UK, alongside other artistes, for an annual music and cultural extravaganza. This was to be her first international concert and was by all standards a great breakthrough in her eight-year music career.
With her new chart buster Kilio, featuring Choku and Rat-a-tat, ruling the airwaves, her career was no doubt headed for the stars. At that time she was still sorting out her visa issues.
Last Friday Lady S, accompanied with Choku, came to The Standard offices to meet Pulse editor Charles Otieno and team. She was jovial and talked of a newly formed music ‘unit’ dubbed the Calif Angels (comprising Rat-a-tat and Choku).
"We are going to up the game," she enthused. I’m happy and doing well," she added.
Little did we know that the Grim Reaper was lurking and this was to be our last conversation ears
On the evening of Monday September 3, news of the artiste’s tragic death shocked many. She had perished in a road accident after a car she was travelling in with her three friends rolled along Thika road. Ironically, Lady S was planning to fly to UK for a concert that evening.
"What do you mean Lady S is dead?" wondered one of her friends and fellow musician, Nyota Ndogo, who called me from Moshi, Tanzania, where she had gone for a concert. She broke down and disconnected the call.
Another of her friends from Dubai said he had booked the next flight back home. And just like it was in her new hit track title, Kilio, the industry was in tears.
Friend and foe found it hard to the 24-year-old ‘ghetto hip-hopper’. Having made her breakthrough in an otherwise male dominated rapping genre through her debut single, Wananiita Lady S, a hit song released by her Calif record stable, Lady S easily tore her way to regional acclaim through her follow up singles Lovely Ladies and Manzi wa Mtaa, in which she featured Jimw@t.
Her song Ukimwona rose to the top of the charts, making her one of the few lady musicians in the country to climb to such levels.
It is no surprise that established musicians such as the Kisima award winner Nyota Ndogo, Pilipili and Jua Cali sought her to feature in their songs.
But when she fell ill in 2005, even her closest friends distanced themselves from her and started to peddle gossip that she was on her way to the grave. But she battled the alleged kidney ailment.
She was the breadwinner of her family in their Dandora home and had to struggle to even pay her hospital bill. Nevertheless she was determined not to let down her family.
On the same Sunday we met, Lady S had hosted a pastor and church faithful to a thanksgiving ceremony at their Dandora home to thank God for seeing her through.
"He has seen me through my hard times," she confessed as she revealed her religious streak.
So who was Lady S and why was her life misunderstood?
Sharon was only 17 when her father Wangwe, a former member of Moreno Batamba’s Orchestra Moja One Band died. Having been inspired by her father’s immense music talent, Sharon then made up her mind to be a composer and a singer so as to keep her father’s legacy. Back then (1998) she was in her first year at Luuya Girls’ School in Bungoma, where she started nurturing her rapping talent.
During school holidays she would spend Sunday afternoons battling it out with upcoming male rappers during the popular Florida 2000 jam sessions in Nairobi, where her talent was discovered.
In August 2001, rapper Jua Cali noticed her talent and recommended her to producer Clement Rapudo aka Clemo of Calif records who signed her immediately she cleared high school.
In 2003, her diary was fully booked and only the ‘highest bidder’ could manage to get her for a show both locally and regionally.
But rumours about her love life soon began making the rounds. At first, allegations were made about her love affair with a deejay, followed by talk of romantic involvement with her producer. She vehemently denied claims.
"I know people mistake me because I am very social… The truth is, some of my colleagues at Calif have been envious of my success and they have been trying to put me down by peddling all sorts of evil talk about me," she said, during an interview with Pulse in March.
In the midst of all these rumours, Lady S broke up with her boyfriend of three years who was then a law student at Moi University. When her boyfriend wanted to get his way back into her life she refused and went ahead to record a track, Umeachwa, whose title was changed to Kilio days before the release.
"For now, my efforts are driven towards my mother and three brothers. I am not thinking of any man, not until next year," she confessed during another interview.
There is this saying that gangsta rappers always become greater in their death — and this could just be so for Lady S.
Road accidents have also ended the promising careers of Kenyan musicians like E-Sir and Wicki Mosh.
As they say in the song … ‘Rests in peace young niggas there’s heaven for the gees,’ may the First Lady of ‘Calif Angels’ rest in peace.
reproduced from The Standard wed Sept 5 2007