Profile: Olith Ratego
Olith Ratego was born Musa Odhiambo omondi, in Asere Ugenya, Siaya District. The middle child in a family of three, his interest in music was awakened by his mother who was a singer of “Dodo”, a traditional style of luo music. She on occasion performed for dignitaries and even the then president of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
As a young boy, Olith would listen to and sing along to songs by Miriam Makeba and Tshala Mwana, much to the amazement of his listeners. In school, he often got in trouble for writing songs in class and was sent home severally in an attempt to stop him from the habit.
Unfortunately for Olith, his school life was cut short at Class Five, due to lack of school fees. At this point, he put all his energies in trying to get his songs recorded. Realizing that he couldn’t get his songs recorded he painfully gave up on his singing dreams, for an apprenticeship in carpentry with his cousin in Nairobi.
In 2001, he heard an afro-fusion song that rekindled his singing passion. He made up his mind to have a song produced and played on radio. With monies raised from his carpentry workshop, “Mamano Daa” was released on radio. It got massive airplay locally but he did not get the desired recognition and returned to Siaya.
Come 2003, he heard of an upcoming show in Siaya by King Kong and approached him to curtain raise the show. He was accorded that opportunity and got a great response from the crowd. Impressed with his performance, King Kong took him to Nairobi as his singer. Olith raised enough money to release another single – “Aheri”. While working with King Kong, he was introduced to Tabu Osusa, an avid Afro – Fusion producer who signed him on to the Ketebul Productions stable and “Osuga” was born!!
Previous Notable Shows and Performances
- The village experience concert – Alliance Française de Nairobi (French cultural centre) – January 2008
- Fest Horn – Djibouti 2008
- Muziki wa Kenya concert – Goethe institute Nairobi 2007
- Sauti za Busara festival – Zanzibar 2007 February
Currently, Olith is in the process of recording his sophomore yet to be titled album at Ketebul Studios. The project being produced by Guy Morley of No Nation/ Yam Yam from the UK, will feature Ohangla Music with a twist.
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Ketebul Music at Utam Festival
Ketebul Music artists Olith Ratego and Makadem performed at the premiere edition of Utam Festival last weekend, 29th of November 2015. UTAM FESTIVAL is a Kenyan Annual Multi-Cultural Music Festival that gives a platform for global cultural integration using art. The aim of the festival is to showcase, expose and share East African arts and culture to the world.
The event kicked off at 2.30 pm with a brilliant performance by Olith Ratego, who wowed the crowd with his singing skills. Olith played his signature home-made instrument known as the ‘kodo’. He told melodic stories in his music and invited the crowd to journey with him into his musical world.
Makadem, also known as Mganga Mkuu, with his charismatic persona and powerful vocal delivery as always had the crowd on their feet. He not only sang to his audience but fully engaged with them throughout his performance.
Several other artists from East Africa such as Ricky Na Marafiki, Wangechi, Sarakasi Dancers, Teto Tutuma, Tetu Shani, Giovanni Kiyingi from Uganda, Swahili Ally from Tanzania, and Ugandan Saxophonist Brian Mugenyi among others were also present and showcased their best.
From poetry to music to dance… The festival was a blissful blend of art.
The little ones were not left behind…
The festival offered a cocktail of music, diverse cultures and a beautiful coexistence between different people brought together by their mutual love for music. As the famous Youssou N’Dour once said, “Music is a language”
Photo credits: Quaint Photography.
Ketebul Music artist Olith Ratego is once again heading to Germany on the 7th of May for a series of performances with German choreographer Morgan Nardi.
Olith Ratego and Morgan who have already had a series of shows in Germany in 2012 will showcase 3RD, which is choreographed by Morgan, in Cologne, Dusseldorf and Berlin between the dates of May 9th to May 22. They will also perform at the Sommerblut Festival.
Follow Olith on his travels and shows on his facebook page HERE
Olith Ratego Heading To Dusseldorf, Germany
Ketebul Music artist Olith Ratego is heading to Dusseldorf in Germany on Friday the 16th of November, for a series of performances with German choreographer Morgan Nardi.
Olith Ratego and Morgan met in Nairobi when Morgan was in town for the solos and duets dance festival. After a chance meeting at the Godown Arts Centre, Morgan invited Olith to perform with him at the Visa Oshwal centre. Impressed by the outcome of their performance and Olith’s music, Morgan promised to work with him again in future.
The performances will feature dance pieces choreographed by Morgan Nardi to Olith Ratego’s song titled Anindo. During the performances which are coproduced by Tanzahaus NRW, Olith Ratego will sing and play his self made lyre live as Morgan Nardi and company perform their dance pieces.
Olith Ratego will depart Nairobi for Dusseldorf on the 16th of November for a series of reheasals with Morgan Nardi before the performances which are scheduled for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of November.
Kudos to Olith Ratego for flying the Ketebul Music and Kenyan flags high!