After the hugely popular festival gained a lot of traction and was bringing in excellent profits, major sponsor Capital FM suddenly and mysteriously jumped ship. No clear explanation was given, though rumors quickly started to circulate. Chief among the rumors swirled around a certain billionaire investor. Speculation was that the billionaire allegedly wanted the upstart Drummer Queen’s “number”, in a manner of speaking. However, the young Drummer Queen allegedly rebuffed the request and wouldn’t give up her “digits”. In a fit of alleged pique, the billionaire not only backed out of supporting B&W, but actively started a competing festival.
The Koroga Festival had a nearly identical concept and programming. At the very least, the festival was clearly meant to compete against Muthoni’s event. Muthoni called it a “direct imitation.” Blankets & Wine did disappear for a bit, what Muthoni now refers to as a kind of sabbatical, “time to refresh and reinvigorate the idea of what Blankets & Wine stood for and how it’s presented.” During her time away, Muthoni started another festival called Africa Nouveau.
To the relief of fans, Blankets & Wine did return last year and was well received. Daily Nation called it a “spectacular comeback.” Muthoni remains committed to her original mission of helping emerging artists in different genres find their audience. She says, “It’s about pushing the boundaries of expression in a manner that resonates with a global identity.”
What actually happened? We don’t know for sure. A spokesperson for Capital FM insists the rumors were just rumors, and that Muthoni actually terminated her contract. Muthoni hasn’t spoken directly about it but has thrown some shade at Koroga. “It’s like comparing a potato to a cabbage,” Muthoni says. “They’re both vegetables but they’re not even in the same family.” Blankets is about the “purity of the intention. The fact that this event was borne out of my personal experiences as an artiste will always make it different from any other music event in Nairobi.”
Fans of music in Kenya are just happy that the Drummer Queen and her beloved festival are back. The Koroga festival also brings much fun and entertainment. As Somoina aptly notes, there is a big enough market for both festivals to thrive in Nairobi. The offerings are different enough that a wider range of music and fans can be well served.