Born Shiphton Onyango, Winyo adopted his artistic name ‘Winyo’, which is a Luo word (a tribe from the Lake Victoria region of Western Kenya) for “a bird”. The reason for this becomes apparent once you hear him sing. His voice has been likened to the melody of a singing bird.
Winyo’s music is heavily influenced by the old style benga which he has revived albeit with a contemporary modern day feel, yet still maintaining the unmistakable guitar playing style of legends like Ochieng’ Nelly and George Ramogi. His powerful yet mellow vocals are the icing on the cake that makes listening to Winyo, an almost heavenly experience. He sings in his paternal language of Dholuo, Swahili and English, addressing a myriad of social issues ranging from the plight of homeless children to courtship and marriage, and other issues touching on day-to-day life around him.
Winyo started off as part of the critically acclaimed and accomplished trio named ‘Rateng’ (which means Black in Luo), cutting his teeth as the composer, vocalist and guitarist of the group. He was instrumental in the writing and composing of the group’s album titled Thumology, which was released in 2009.
In 2010, Winyo was shortlisted as one of the ten finalists in the Radio France International (RFI) Discoveries. He went on to be the overall first runners up. This was followed by a second nomination and top ten shortlisting in RFI Discoveries in 2011.
Winyo was once again nominated for an international award in 2012. He was one of the young artistes from all over the world who were nominated for the Rolex Arts Initiative Mentor and Protégé programme. Winyo went on to be shortlisted as one of the four finalists who travelled to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil to meet with the legendary Gilberto Gil. Although Winyo was not selected as the protégé, he did manage to work with Mr Gil during his visit to Rio.
At the end of the year in 2012, Winyo was invited to the Global Music Academy as part of a panel of musicians and artiste’s from Africa who were developing a curriculum for training African musicians to notate and read African music. The three-week workshop was held in Soweto, South Africa. Winyo’s contribution to the project was based on benga music from Kenya.
Winyo is also a much sought after composer and songwriter and has penned songs for many chart topping artistes in Kenya including Tusker Project Fame winner Valerie Kimani, and is also well remembered as the writer and voice behind Ukoo Flani Mau-Mau’s hook on Angalia Saa. He is also a professional photographer, actor and a TV producer. He is best remembered for his Tv series ‘Fruit Salad’.
Winyo’s debut CD as a solo artistee titled Benga Blues was first released as an EP while he was on a tour of Europe 1n 2011 that saw him perform in Germany, Italy, Romania, and France. Benga Blues was then officially released in Kenya and internationaly in September 2012.
Winyo has collaborated both on stage and in studio with a host of local and international artistes including Ayub Ogada, Makadem, Kato Change, Nina Ogot, Vieux Farka Touré, Heather Maxwell, Sophie Grant, Alif Naaba, Leo Mkanyia and multi Grammy Award winner Joss Stone.
In 2014 Winyo was part of the contingent of musicians that represented Kenya at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC USA. During the same tour, he was one of the few artistes to also perform at the Kennedy Centre Millennium Hall and the only one to be invited to perform at the Library of Congress. He also played at the Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert Tribute to Pete Seeger.
At the end of 2015, Winyo went back to the studio at Ketebul Music and started recording material for his sophomore CD that is currently in production.
Selected Awards & Accolades
- Nominee & top 4 Finalist Rolex Mentor & Protege Arts Initiative 2012
- RFI Discoveries 2011 Top 10 finalist
- East Africa Muysic Awards Nominee Best Male Artist 2011
- Rfi Discoveries 2010 1st Runners up
- Uzbekistan Cultural Music Festival 2006 (With the trio Rateng’) 2nd Runners up
Selected Performance Highlights
- Bayimba International Festival of The Arts, Uganda 2016
- Koroga Festival, Kenya 2015
- The Library of Congress USA 2014
- The Kennedy Centre USA 2014
- The Smithsonian Folklife Festival USA 2014
- N’sangu Ndji Ndji Festival: Pointe Noire, Congo 2013
- Doadoa Festival: Jinja, Uganda 2013
- The Rift Valley Festival 2012
- WIPO Conference, China 2012
- Musique Metisses: Angoulme, France – 2011
- CCF: Lasi, Romania – 2011
- Suona Francese: Rome, Italy – 2011
- Africa Festival: Wurzburg, Germany – 2011
- Festival for African Fashion and Arts FAFA – 2010
- Moshito Festival South Africa – 2010
- Bushfire Festival Swaziland – 2010
- The Rift Valley Festival Kenya – 2010
- Sawa Sawa Festival, alongside Jazz maestro Hugh Masekhela (South Africa) and Ayub Ogada
- (Kenya) 2008
- BBC Radio Journalist of the Year Award, Kenya – 2007
- The Hon. Raila Odinga’s Presidential Campaign Launch (Kenya) – 2007
- Uzbekistan Cultural Music Festival – 2006
- No events
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The Spotlight On Kenyan Music 10th Year Anniversary Celebrations
The Spotlight on Kenyan Music Programme marked its 10 year anniversary with a colourful concert held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi Kenya, last weekend on the 19th and 20th of September 2015. The concert coincided with the Total Motor show, which is a major motor show event in East and Central Africa.
Spotlight on Kenyan Music is a cultural music programme initiated by the Alliance Française in 2005 in partnership with Ketebul Music, with the support of the Embassy of France in Kenya, Total Kenya Ltd, and the Department of Culture.
The concert featured spotlight selected Spotlight artistes such as Lelele Afrika, Juma Tutu, Makadem, Mzee Mwatela and Gargar among others.
On Saturday afternoon the show kicked off with a great performance by Walter Koga, a nyatiti player from Nyakach, Nyanza. He was followed by Mutinda, who is part of the first crop of the spotlight on Kenyan music volume 1, with his song ‘Matopeni.’ His song ‘Simama’ also saw him win the International Song Writing Competition.
Next on line was Mzee Mwatela, a renowned percussionist hailing from the coastal town of Malindi. He is featured in the Spotlight On Kenyan Music volume 6 compilation.
The audience was amazed by the mellow voice of Winyo who, though not a Spotlight artiste but a good friend of Alliance Française. Winyo was twice nominated for the Radio Funds International Discoveries Award and is a beneficiary of the Institut Français.
Makadem, also known as the Ohanglaman or Mganga Mkuu (the great healer) wrapped it all up with a high energy performance which had the crowd on their feet and left them yearning for more. His song ‘Nyar Nairobi’ is featured in the 1st volume of the Spotlight On Kenyan Music compilation.
As a continuation to the celebrations, on Sunday, Mohammed Guyo from Marsabit opened the stage in style with Lelele Africa stepping in after him. Mohamed Guyo is featured in the Spotlight on Kenyan Music volume 5 compilation, which focused on music from Northern Kenya. Lelele Africa is a band made up of veteran Taarab musicians and are one of the few remaining groups that still play the old style taarab music. They were featured in the volume 6 compilation.
Next on stage was Chepchumba from the Rift valley, featured in the volume 3 compilation. She was then followed by Juma Tutu, a Swahili jazz musician whose song titled ‘Sukari’ was featured in the volume 1 compilation, going on to become became a runaway hit in Kenya.
The performances went on with Ontiri Bikundo from Kisii, whose song titled ‘Speed Governor,’ a call for responsible sexual behaviour, appears on the Spotlight On Kenyan Music volume 2 compilation.
Gargar, a group made up of Kenyan women of Somali origin from Garissa, North Eastern Kenya, were next on stage after Ontiri Bikundo. They are one of the major success stories from the Spotlight On Kenyan Music programme, having travelled to perform and showcase in numerous countries internationally. They are the only group that has been featured in two Spotlight On Kenyan Music compilations, the first being volume 4 with their song ‘Aids Wadila’ and the second ‘Shicir’ in the volume 5 compilation.
Sarabi are not Spotlight on Kenyan music artistes but in an effort to support young Kenyan talent, they too were invited to perform. They will be performing on Friday, 24th of September 2015, at the Alliance Française gardens in a show that seeks to raise funds for their upcoming trip to Budapest where they will showcase at WOMEX.
The event was also used to launch Spotlight On Kenyan Music Videos that had been shot and produced by Ketebul Music over a four month period, between May and August 2015.
Welcome to Festive Friday!
Happy Friday Ketebul Music friends and family!
Starting this and every Friday we will be sharing and reminding you of the festivals and events where our personnel and signed artists, and those within the larger Ketebul Music network will be attending, showcasing and performing.
We will call this, FESTIVE FRIDAY!
To kick us off this Festive Friday, we debut by featuring our very own Winyo.
Winyo will be performing @ MASA| Market for African Performing Arts which will be held in Côte d’Ivoire between 1st and 8th of March 2014. Masa created in 1993 by the Intergovernmental Agency of the Francophonie , is a festival of African Art ( theater , music and dance ) held every two years in Abidjan.
Winyo who is a gifted and talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, has one album/ CD to his credit titled Benga Blues, which was recorded and produced at Ketebul Music Studios.
Winyo started off as part of the critically acclaimed and accomplished trio named ‘Rateng’ (which means Black in Luo), cutting his teeth as the composer, lead vocalist and guitarist of the group. With the group Rateng, they went on to emerge 3rd in the Uzbekistan Cultural Music Festival in 2006. Winyo was instrumental in the writing and composing of the group’s album titled ‘Thumology’, which was released in the year 2009.
Winyo derives his music and musical strength from his fore fathers whose African music was rich in melody and traditional harmonies. His musical style ranges from traditional Luo melodies infused with witty story lines, afro fusion and afro jazz, to a contemporary interpretation of Benga, transformed into an authentic acoustic sound. His powerful yet mellow vocals are the icing on the cake that makes listening to Winyo, an almost heavenly experience.
For more info and updates follow Winyo on facebook: CLICK HERE
For info on MASA, CLICK HERE
Catch Winyo Live @ Treehouse Thursday 14th March
Following the release of his debut Cd titled Benga Blues, Winyo is set to do a number of shows to promote the CD.
On Thursday the 14th of March, Winyo will be on stage at the Treehouse where he will play music from Benga Blues. Winyo will also throw in a special treat by playing new music that he has been working on.
Benga Blues will be on sale at the venue, and Winyo will be available to personally autograph your copy after the show.
As always, keep tabs on Winyo, his projects and upcoming shows by following him on facebook.
Click HERE to like his page.