Christmas Song: Kacii Eleven wants you home!
It is indeed consoling, to say the least, that out of the growing number of artistes in Nigeria whose talents are sometimes questionable, there are some who give you reasons to believe in their artistry. One of such artistes is Kacii Eleven, a trained musician whose performance career as a Soul and RnB singer dates back to her years as an undergraduate of music in the University of Nigeria, or shortly before then. There is something extraordinary about watching a live performance that engages an audience and possesses them in a way that makes them to not look forward to the end of the performance. This, or at least something very close to this, could be said about Kacii’s live solo performances as she sings and plays the guitar—an instrument that she plays effortlessly in accompaniment to songs which are sometimes written by her. This, in a sense, could be the yardstick for which a “complete musician” could be measured. Complete in the sense that the musician not only sings, but writes her songs and sometimes, accompanies herself. I make this argument against the backdrop of the prevailing culture of playback performances where musicians rely on Disc Jockeys to play their recorded songs while they jump around on stage shouting intermittently into the microphone, miming or lip-synching, rather than performing the song live. Live performances could be a mark of distinction that underscores a musician’s degree of artistry.
Here, listening to Kacii Eleven’s recorded Christmas song titled This Christmas I don’t Wanna Miss You, too many things come to mind—one of which is how the music works. But most significantly, the song’s meaning is as evident as the song’s title.
The song’s discourse schema is about wanting to be with a newfound love at Christmas. The recording features guitars, drums, tambourines, and bells—each playing specific functions mostly melodic, rhythmic, and “melorhythmic”. The music starts with a bass-guitar playing on the tonic and accompanied by a guitar and tambourine in the first four bars before it establishes a basic progression of VI-V-VI-V-VI in the verses. The song’s minor key efficiently creates a reflective mood for the song’s lyrics. In all, there are two verses, a bridge section, and three choruses in this structure: Verse 1—Chorus—Verse 2—Chorus—Bridge—Chorus. This structure, as it does appear, is an archetype of the songwriting structure of Soul, RnB, and other genres and sub-genres which are also subjective in the sense that the number of verses could vary — depending on the artist or songwriter. In the first verse, the singer starts out with a categorical statement “This Christmas will be different” and warns the song’s subject character thusly “You better be home”. The song’s discourse schema is however, more evident in the second verse where the singer declares:
Loneliness will kill me
And rivers gonna drown me
If you don’t show
In waiting for you
I’ve pictured all we can be
When you get home (2sx)
Kacii’s soft vocal texture works well with the song’s overall cool timbre to highlight the meaning of the work as shown in the second verse. Her vocal techniques and range are demonstrated mostly in the chorus sections where the music gets gradually intense and the melodic contour falls back to the VI (Lah) degree to establish again—the song’s key and mood. Also in the chorus sections, the short vocal harmony in the interval of thirds is a plus. Essential is the use of bells in the bridge section which, in a sense, attempts to create the yuletide ambiance considering the instrument’s historical association with Christmas songs.
The song manages to possess a socio-cultural identity in the chorus sections as she sings:
‘Cos in Nigeria it gets cold
In December it gets cold
Freezing Harmattan breeze
Dusty weather gets cold
Jesus stories gets told
And trees lose their leaves
This Christmas (2x)
I don’t wanna miss you.
Here, Kacii Eleven places the song within the geographical setting that is Nigeria—bringing to bear the environmental effects of the Harmattan season. Considering the prevailing culture of family reunions in Nigeria during Christmas celebrations, the singer does not speak to an individual, but to a culture. In addition, there’s reference to religion and belief—a season when Christians talk about the birth of Jesus.
Listening to the song over and over again, one thing is certain. This singer is not out to impress. The entire delivery tends to follow a generic practice in the song’s genre. There are no improvisations, heavy sounds and acoustic deviations that could suggest the singer’s intention to place the song in the Neo-Soul genre where certain elemental deviations are its mark of variance. While the song’s strong seasonal theme could restrain its logical performance at any given time of the year, in the end, it is what it is—a brilliant Christmas song that speaks to a people.
Kacii Eleven is a talent to watch, a burgeoning voice that calls for attention.