You need to listen to this Swahili cover of 'Hello'

The World
Kenyan Afro-pop singer Dela

Just a week after uploading her cover of "Hello" to YouTube, it had more than 250,000 hits.

Marco Werman

There’s a musician getting a ton of attention right now for a song called “Hello.” But it’s not the one you think.

Dela, an Afro-soul singer who has been popular in Kenya since 2009, recently released a cover of Adele’s record-breaking song “Hello” — but her version is in Swahili. And it’s amazing. 

She got the idea to cover "Hello" when she was out to lunch with her manager. They were talking about how much she loved the song. 

“You know how they say, ‘feels’? It just gives me the feels. It reaches me in a way that no other song has been able to in a really really long time,” Dela says.

Who knows, maybe it's because the singers basically share a name. Dela is short for Adeline.

Dela's manager told her she should cover it, but not like every other musician with Internet access. He said she should sing "Hello" in Swahili.

“A lightbulb just went off in my head like, pow. And I stood up and was right out the door, and I just started writing it,” Dela says.

She speaks fluent Swahili, so the translation didn’t take too long. And then there's what she believes is a certain magic to the language.

“I love Swahili,” she says. “Swahili is my first love for writing. Like it just has this poetic-ness, it just reaches the soul. It explains everything so well.”

Dela didn’t expect her version of the song to do so well. The video went up last week and already has more than 250,000 views. Now she has to deal with that success.

“We’re working on it and the licensing and getting all the rights, like the mechanical adaptation rights and all those things," Dela says. "We just didn’t — you know, this thing has been out for what, how many days?”

Dela trails off, laughing in amazement.

Will you help our nonprofit newsroom today?

Every week, more than 2 million listeners tune into our broadcast and follow our digital coverage like this story, which is available to read for free thanks to charitable contributions from listeners like you. But less than 1% of our audience supports our program directly. From now through the end of the year, every gift will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous donor, which means your gift will help us unlock a $67,000 challenge match.

Will you join our growing list of loyal supporters and double your impact today?