The year is 2017, ans I’m seated front row at a fashion show in Dar es Salaam. Then I hear a perfect rendition of Adele’s ‘When we were young’. My jaw dropped and for a second I thought the British singer was in our midst.
A few seconds later here emerges this young man serenading us with what remains to date the most sublime cover I’ve ever heard.
Frankie Maston is a name that you might not hear very often on the radio or see his face on telelvsion, but a snippet hearing of his voice will have you wondering why he is not given a bigger platform.
Frankie grew up listening to RnB songs. He had a profound interest in music – ranging from soul, afro-pop and general pop.
It was at the tender age of 12 that Maston, for the first time, performed in front of a crowd. “My first performance was in front of a gathering at school during a talent night show,” he recalls of his nascent rise in the musical world.
The reaction from the crowd said it all about the talent that had been unearthed on that stage. “When I got up on the podium, there was this deafening silence. Everyone was intently waiting to hear my voice. After I was done, I got massive applauds and a standing ovation,” Maston recollects of that proud moment.
However, due to academic endeavors, his career in music had to take a back seat and would only be reignited in 2016.
Maston made a decision to prioritize education, graduating with a degree in Marketing from the University of Dar es Salaam. “After my college degree that’s when I decided to start recording music, writing songs and do live performances,” he says, adding that this was the right time to start taking serious focus on music.
In the three years of his involvement in music, Maston has released three official songs that cut across three different genres.
The first song was a reggae song titled ‘Right Now’ released in 2016. His second song is an afro-pop track ‘Mi na Wewe’ featuring Mimi Mars and Yeyo ‘The Miracle Child’. His third song is an RnB track called ‘Good Bye’.
Maston’s experience writing his first official song ‘Right Now’, was coupled with an aggregate of feelings and new dimensions. “Writing a song, to me, is about sharing experiences, feelings and emotions,” he says. He went on to reveal that ‘Right Now’ was a dedication to someone – a message (letter) conveyed to someone through a song.
As he continues to etch his name in the bongo music industry, Maston, still an upcoming artiste, has met a few hurdles in his journey to realising his dream as a musician. “Underground artistes find it difficult getting media support to help push our work,” he laments. For this reason he capitalizes on social media to popularise his music to the masses. “I released my first song on Sound Cloud. The response I got was overwhelming, people reacted positively to my song, this really gave me new found strength to continue pushing my music career,” he says.
His first song had over 5,000 hits on Sound Cloud. “I was shocked with excitement, I didn’t expect to get even 10 hits, to end up with over 5,000 was truly amazing,” he says. The positive feedback he got from fans encouraged him to start promoting his music on other media channels as well.
Maston has big dreams, he wants to become an established artiste. “I’d like to fly around the world representing my country musically,” he says. But first, he wants to let his message of self-acceptance resonate with people. “I believe deep inside we all have things we do not understand, our own tribulations that we are trying to overcome or come to terms with,” he says.
As an artiste, and human being, he believes that self-acceptance is important. “Everyone is perfect in their own way. Believing in yourself and your abilities will enable you to trample over any doubts that you might have or that are cast your way,” Maston says.
Learning through collaboration
Working with Mimi Mars, an established Bongo Flava artiste was a learning process for Maston. He was able to learn new ideas and crafts that make for great music. “It’s always great to collaborate with other artistes. A fusion of ideas makes the project even better,” he says.
On future projects, working with Tanzanian musicians Barnaba and Grace Matata is a dream Maston wishes to accomplish in the near future. “Grace opened the doors for me to start singing. My first live performance was at one of her events,” he says. Another artiste he lists, is rapper Wakazi. “Apart from being a fan of his music, he [Wakazi] is also my mentor,” says Maston.
Music aside, Maston is also a fashion designer. He has worked in the fashion industry as a stylist for six years now. With his degree in marketing, he also provides marketing advice to different clients from time to time.
Bongo’s music scene is in short supply of artistes who are truly gifted vocally. The sounds that reverberate on airwaves are copious in tone and rhythm.
With Maston, he presents a different sound to our ears, reminiscent of Damian Soul and Ben Pol blended into one.