By Sunday Obembe
Tanzanian diva Vee Money christened Venessa Hau Mdee was born in the late 1980s, she lived her formative years in cities like Arucha, Nairobi, New York and Paris; an experience which introduced her to the world of performing arts. A recording artist, songwriter and On Air Personality who she rose to prominence as the first ever Tanzanian MTV VJ after winning the MTV VJ search as a teenager in 2007, she has since maintained a steady rise and stolen the hearts of millions of viewers across the globe.
Having won the MTV Base VJ search Mdee was shot into spotlight and also became an entertainment phenomenon in Tanzania and around the continent, hosting shows in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Angola, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, the United States and in Brazil for MTV and Smirnoff at the carnival.
The Catholic University of Eastern Africa trained Lawyer turned OAP hosted ‘The Hitlist’ on Choice FM Tanzania where she was interviewed many artists, such as K'Naan, Kelly Rowland, French Montana, Trey Songs, Mac Miller, Rick Ross, Ludacris, Miguel, Donald, Nazizi, Xtatic, Stella Mwangi, Camp Mulla, Tay Grin, Teargas and Dr. Sid and many more African and international acts.
In early 2009 Mdee hosted Senses, Sounds and Wisdom with Zantel during the annual Sauti Za Busara International Music Festival, showcasing the ever-growing Swahili culture. Mdee's fashion sense has made her the go-to girl at every MTV Africa Music Awards. She hosted the red carpet event for three years in a row.
Along with her pan-African weekly TV show, MTV's Base Select 10 and daily radio gig, Mdee blogged as a roving reporter on behalf of MTV Staying Alive and USAIDS on her Dynamites Mission website. She was MTV's voice at the 2011 UNAIDS Mali Youth Summit in Bamako and the subsequent High Level meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, She participated in the International Conference on HIV and STI's in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and co-founded (along with M.K. Asante) STANDWIDTH, under the UNAIDS umbrella.
In 2012 Mdee hosted MTV Base Meets, a show aimed at empowering young Africans from around the world by creating the rare platform for them to sit down with an influential leader. She was in the company of Russell Simmons, Alek Wek, former President of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, football star Emmanuel Adebayor and Akon. Same year she received an award at a gala in New York City by the UNA-YP (United Nations Association of Young Professionals) and by the GAVI Alliance for her support in the initiation of free vaccinations for Tanzanian children.
In May 2013, Mdee spoke at the World Economic Forum for Africa in Cape Town, South Africa on behalf of the GAVI Alliance on the announcement of the new record low price for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines. Later that same month, she also spoke on cervical cancer at the Global Forum for Cervical Cancer Prevention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on behalf of Global Health Strategies. Mdee officially became a GAVI Ambassador and an active voice against cervical cancer.
As a recording artist, Mdee signed to B’Hits Music Group dropped her official single ‘Closer’ which gave her a big buzz as the song recorded over 300,000 downloads in its first week and remained on the charts for 13 weeks; a feat achieved by no other Tanzanian artist. She also collaborated with Tanzanian rapper A.Y on the track ‘Money’ and Ommy Dimpoz, a Bongo Flava artist on ‘Me and You’ that was later voted Song of the Year at the 2013 Kilimanjaro Music Awards.
In, 2013 Mdee got added to the Dar es Salaam hub of the World Economic Forum as a Global Shaper. In October 2013 Mdee joined the GAVI Alliance again at the UN General Assembly where she spoke on a panel with Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda. This trip ended with Mdee closing the NASDAQ by ringing the ceremonial closing bell, along with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of Mali. Mdee was in turn awarded by the Global Health and Diplomacy for her work in advocacy.
Mdee hosted MTV Base's Hunters Oasis; a music festival around Africa with appearances from some of the African continents hottest artists and DJs. She also hosted Tanzania's Epiq Bongo Star Search Season 7 and Dume Challenge, seasons 1 and 2. Mdee also released her second single ‘Come Over’ in November, 2013 which has been on charts in Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, etc.
In 2014, Mdee was nominated for 3 Kilimanjaro Tanzania Music Awards for Female Artist of the Year, R&B Song of the Year and Female Performer of the Year. She won for R&B Song of the Year for Closer. Mdee released her third single ‘Hawajui’.
At the MTV Africa Music Awards held in Durban, South Africa; Vanessa Mdee alongside Nomuzi Mabena presented the Best Collaboration Award and Best Francophone Award. She also added to her profile the interviews with Trey Songz, Miguel and French Montana all artists from the U.S.
Early this year, Vanessa Mdee signed a brand ambassadorship deal with Samsung Tanzania. And she has continued to attract a lot of attention from plenty of corporations due to her enormous talent and continued effort to grow her brand.
On 26 March 2015, Vanessa Mdee released her fifth single ‘Nobody But Me’ where she joins with heavy hitting South African rapper K.O, the song is already topping charts in various countries in Africa.
She also performed in Lagos, Nigeria at the Gidi Culture Festival known to be Africa's biggest beach festival, held at Eko Atlantic. Sharing the stage with likes of Burna Boy, Awilo Longomba, M.I, Waje, Sean Tizzle, Victoria Kimani, Efya, Skales and many more.
Mdee is also featured in the August issue of popular US Magazine ‘Essence’, an edition that featured photographs of Erykah Badu in Zanzibar, Tanzania, Nairobi and Kenya. She speaks on her music, inspiration and many more. Venessa ‘Vee Money’ Mdee’s profile keeps increasing by the day as she remains one of the biggest entertainment phenomenon from the eastern part of Africa, Tanzania to be precise.