Year ends on a high note for Kenyan musicians
Posted Tuesday, December 23 2008 at 12:22
The political turmoil at the beginning of the year put paid to most Kenyan artistes’ efforts to rediscover themselves in readiness for 2008.
However, you have to admire the way they rallied Kenyans for a return to peace and tranquillity through music, even as the post-election violence threatened to tear the country apart.
Eric Wainaina’s peace song was adopted by non-governmental and and other organisations helping in fostering peace in Kenya.
Producer R-Kay spearheaded another initiative bringing together more than a dozen musicians for a peace song. The initiative rightfully earned him an award through the British Council in Kenya.
The grouping of artistes, known as Afro-fusionists, is growing in stature by the day, thanks to the annual Spotlight on Music talent search held at the Alliance Francaise in Nairobi.
A long way to go
However, the new artistes have a long way to go before they catch up with their established counterparts.
Afro-fusionist Suzanne Owiyo had one of her best years yet. She was the only musician to represent Kenya at the Nelson Mandela birthday concert in London. There, she shared the stage with the likes of Will Smith and Madonna in what was one of the biggest music shows on earth.
Call it being at the right pace at the right time, but upon her return from London, Owiyo was again invited to perform at the world’s biggest music expo, Womex, held in Seville, Spain. This was a perfect opportunity to network with the key players in the industry, and the songbird says she did just that.
“There will be greater things next year, that is for sure,” she promises.
Wainaina had a big boost to his music career when his song was adopted as the theme for the Orange mobile phone network. Despite not releasing an album this year, he still dominated shows locally and abroad.
Iddi Achieng’ launched a compilation DVD of her music journey. It was a flashy launch at the French Cultural Centre in Nairobi that was graced by Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s wife Ida, who says she geatly admires the diva’s works.
However, Iddi has great love for theatre and she soon retreated into producing vernacular plays.
She also released an album, but she downplayed it, knowing well that she would use it as an entry into next year.
“I have been working on my studio and things are in place, but watch the entry next year,” she says.
Makadem proved to be a smart artiste when he released a song on US President-elect Barack Obama just when the world was looking for such a song, especially from a musician, where the new leader’s father was born.
The song’s kapuka/genge genre, Kenya’s popular music style, has had a lot of activity this year, but very few emerging shakers.
Just like last year, Jua Cali has a phenomenal climb in the music industry this year, and this despite he fact that Ngeli ya Genge was his only release.