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By Brooke Nuwati
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After weeks of studio work, Africa's first super-group ONE8 has released its debut single – Hands across the world – to global audiences. The group comprising eight of Africa's top selling artists and one global superstar also revealed the power behind their collaboration as Airtel, one of the world's leading mobile communications companies.

The exhilaration has been growing over the past month, first with the announcement of the various artists from across Africa as they joined the group, followed by the trip to Chicago to record with the legendary R & B artist R Kelly. The wait is finally over and now, as ONE8 releases its first single and video to the world, Airtel's back-stage involvement and commitment to this project can be revealed.

Airtel ONE8 is a revolutionary project with a pan-African and global vision. Music is the bond that connects the diverse cultures and languages of the 53 countries of Africa and Airtel has been working behind the scenes for months to help create a truly pan-African emotional connection through ONE8.

Fans all over Africa will be connected to ONE8 through the Airtel network with millions of ONE8 fans across the continent accessing the latest gossip, ringtones, music and videos from the band. Airtel customers can download Airtel ONE8 content by sending a short code SMS to 6262 with the word 'ONE8'.

The excitement and enthusiasm shown by R Kelly and his entire production crew in Chicago in support of this project shows how the African spirit is reaching out to the world. Eight amazingly talented and inspirational African superstars, supported by Airtel, Rockstar 4000 and Sony Music Worldwide, are showcasing the talent, passion and rhythm of Africa to the world.

Airtel is fully committed to the long-term support of this project and has been working closely with its supporting partners Rockstar 4000 and Sony Music Worldwide to ensure that the release of Airtel ONE8's first single and video is a major event across the continent and worldwide.

Events have been taking place in over a dozen African countries and the single and video will be available through a host of digital platforms, making it accessible to millions of people.

Airtel ONE8 is symbolic of the power of connectivity – using networks, technology and the power of music to unite Africa and Africans.

You can follow ONE8 around the clock on the following official portals:

Airtel customers will also be able to download Airtel One8 content by sending a short code SMS to 6262 with the word 'ONE8'.

Airtel ONE8 is:
R Kelly: USA
R Kelly, hot out of the studio with ONE8, has been an integral force in the international R&B market and has garnered massive awards for his own music, as well as outstanding production, for many years, making him one of the best selling urban artists of our time. Hits like I Believe I Can Fly, Bump 'n Grind and Gotham City have made him a household name around the world and his production on top artists like Michael Jackson, Toni Braxton, LL Cool J and many more have kept him in the hearts and on the radio waves for the duration of his 15 year music career.

2Face: Nigeria
2Face started his musical career with BlackFace and the two of them formed the group Plantashun Boyz, a highly acclaimed group in their own right. However, 2Face has achieved most of his success as a solo artist and is now one of the most internationally recognized celebrities Nigeria has produced in recent years. 2005 saw 2Face become a household name when he took home an MTV Europe award for best African act, a Channel l Music Video Award for Best Male Video and Best African Video (both for "African Queen") and a Kora award for Revelation of the Year. Last year he took an MTV Africa Music Award for Best R&B and as he joins forces with the ONE8 project the sky is the limit for this amazingly talented artist.

JK: Zambia
JK is currently Zambia's leading superstar artist with a sound just perfect for mixing with other artists and styles. His Afro-centric signature sound of Rhumba-meets-reggae-meets-R&B have made him a household name in his native country. Being lauded as the man who singlehandedly put the fire for Zambian music back into the hearts of Africans, JK's star continues to rise, seeing him regularly touring the continent and Europe. As part of the ONE8 group, his style will engrave Zambia firmly on the musical map.

Navio: Uganda
One of Uganda's most awarded hip-hop artists, Navio has been on the forefront of the countries hip-hop genre for more than 10 years making huge strides in pushing the genre's accessibility in Eastern Africa. Originally from the rap group Klear Kut, Navio became an overnight sensation, winning awards and topping charts until 2009, when he decided to pursue a solo career. Navio is adamant he will continue to develop the East African hip hop sound and will definitely bring a passionate and creative style to the ONE8 project.

Amani: Kenya
Amani is one of the most talented and beautiful female stars ever to come out of Kenya. Her name is a Swahili word that literally means peace and tranquility, and the soothing sounds of Amani's music reflect exactly that. Amani's soothing music is urban and African, uplifting with unforgettable melodies that showcase both Amani's vocal and song-writing talents. This talent has not gone unrecognised in the awards category with Amani having won numerous awards including the Kenya Kisima Award in 2006 for Best Female Artist and Best Collaboration, and in 2007 for Best Female Boomba Artist. Amani has also been nominated for a Channel O video award in 2008 for Best Female Artist East Africa. In 2009 she won the MTV African Music Award (MAMA) for Best Female Artist Pan Africa alongside a slew of nominations at the 2009 Channel O Music Awards.

Alikiba: Tanzania
The king of Bongo Flava, Alikiba is Tanzania's biggest superstar artist. With his first album only being released in 2008, he has exploded into one of the biggest African artists, across the continent and internationally. With the origins lying in Caribbean music, Bongo Flava is a happy, danceable style that brings parties to life and lifts moods effortlessly. Having a debut album be the top selling album in the whole of East Africa, Alikiba is no stranger to success and is looking forward to bringing his positive energy to the ONE8 project.

4x4: Ghana
4X4 (Pronounced 'four-ex-four') is a hip-life trio mentored by hip-life duo Buk Bak (Bright and Rooney). They released their first album 'Siklitele' in 2003, followed by a second album 'Contestant Number 1' in 2007. As great role models to the youth in Ghana, the members of 4x4 have worked extremely hard to get where they are today. Their latest album, is a blend of foreign touch (hip hop style) but with a local dialect and dancehall flavours. Their great example to the youth mixed with their pride for their country will see 4x4 fit perfectly into the One8 group.

Fally Ipupa: DRC
One of the biggest and most talented superstars from the African continent today, Ipupa Nsimba aka Fally Ipupa is a singer, songwriter and respected guitarist who was born and raised in Kinshasa, DRC. His silky smooth voice soon reached the hearts of many, both in DRC and internationally, due to his blend of various musical styles including soukous, ndombolo, pop and R&B. In 2007 Fally was acknowledged by his peers in the music industry when he won the Best Male Artist Cesaire Award and Best Artist or Group from Central Africa in the continental Kora Awards. His creative spirit, incredible talent and youthful passion make Fally Ipupa a valuable part of the ONE8 group. Fally is well traveled and has toured extensively in Africa and the rest of the world. It was recently announced that he will perform later this year at the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) in Lagos, Nigeria

Movaizhaleine: Gabon
One of the continents most successful rap stories, ex-pats Movaizhaleine, now residing in Paris, France, have taken the African rap flag and are flying it high across the world for Gabon, and indeed the rest of the continent. Consisting of two young conscientious rappers, Lord Ekomy Ndong and Maat Seigneur Lion, the group, also affectionately known as MH, began rapping together when still at high school - highly influenced by the activism on the continent at the time. With four top selling albums under their belts and more than a hundred spectacular showcases in Africa and France, the group is still growing from strength to strength. Joining the ONE8 group is a natural move for these pan-African music-cultural leaders.