08
Apr
2016

Ketebul Music Signs Deal With Anyango nyar Japan

According to the Luo community of Western Kenya, the name Anyango is given to a girl born in the morning, usually around 10 am. Eriko Mukoyama, a young Japanese artiste and the first female nyatiti player in the world identifies with this name, and is so known by her fans. She was given the name by her nyatiti master, Okumu K’Orengo. It just happens that she was actually born in the morning!

Over the years Anyango has been closely associated with Ketebul Music, both socially and business-wise. Apart from her beautiful voice and her incredible nyatiti playing skills, she possesses a lively and jovial spirit, always surprising people by her ability to speak Swahili and Luo.

On the 16th of February 2016, Anyango paid us yet another visit. This time, the aim was to sign a distribution contract with our organization. This basically makes Ketebul Music her official agents in Eastern Africa. Ketebul Music is now Anyango’s official representative and distributor in Eastern Africa.

Anyango signing contract

Anyango signing contract

During her visit we also worked on a compilation called Anyango! The Safari of Eriko Mukayama. This compilation comprises 15 songs, 2 of which are new, recorded at Ketebul Music Studios in 2015.

Anyango during a studio session at Ketebul Music

Anyango during a studio session at Ketebul Music

One of the two songs features Kenge Kenge, a traditional band from the Luo community. The band is made up of young musicians singing in the benga rhythm.

Anyango and Kenge Kenge

Anyango and Kenge Kenge

Anyango will be coming back to Kenya mid this year for a series of shows to promote the new album.

Anyango and Tabu Osusa sealing the deal
04
Apr
2016

Tribute to the Late Jackton Malenya

We at Ketebul Music, wish to pay tribute to the legendary Jackton Malenya who died on the 13th of March, 2016. Mr Malenya met his tragic death when he was assaulted by unknown people on his way home late that evening. He is well known for the hit song “Mtoto si Nguo” which he sang with George Mukabi. The song was recorded in the 1960s.

Malenya was buried on the 29th of March in Buyangu, Bunyore in Vihiga County.

For those of you who don’t know about this Legend, here is a little more you need to know…

Jacktone Malenya was born in Kisa West in Kakamega, Western Kenya. Malenya’s father was a reverend in the Church of God, Kima Mission. He encouraged Malenya to join the church choir, where he learnt to play the guitar. However, he discouraged his son from joining a band. Soon after, Malenya teamed up with a childhood friend who hailed from the same neighborhood, George Mukabi, and they secretly started experimenting with secular music.

In 1957 they decided to move to Nairobi in search of new opportunities. Within that same year they found work with the East African Railways, Malenya working in the supplies department while Mukabi worked as an office messenger at the Railways Training School. Since they were both allocated houses at the Railways staff quarters in Makongeni estate it became convenient for them to meet and practice at the Makongeni Social Hall.

Malenya, who had better education than Mukabi, composed and wrote most of their initial compositions, with Mukabi playing the lone guitar.

Their first record, ‘Kweli Ndugu Sikilizeni’, with ‘Sengula’ on the flip side, was cut at African Gramophone Stores (AGS) studios in River Road in 1957. Their main competitors were the Jambo Boys, made up of Fundi Konde, Daudi Kabaka, Edouard Masengo and Fadhili William. Subsequent recordings were made at AP Chandarana, CMS, Andrew Crawford and a few other studios around town.

The duo achieved a lot of success with their music until tragedy struck in 1963, when Mukabi succumbed to wounds he received during a violent confrontation with his in-laws in Kakamega. After Mukabi’s death Malenya teamed up with his cousin Peter Akwabi, who was then a student at Butere Boys School, and continued recording. But just like Mukabi, Malenya’s life ended tragically when he was attacked by unknown people on his way home late that evening.

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22
Mar
2016

Oud Meets Swahili & Mijikenda Music

Ketebul Music and Alliance Française de Nairobi have been long standing partners in the project ‘Spotlight on Kenyan Music,’ which promotes and develops musical innovation that is rooted in diverse musical traditions of Kenya.  To date, the Spotlight program has released 6 compilations.  These recordings continue to serve as a bridge linking tradition and modernity.

In the month of May 2016, starting 9th -14th, Ketebul Music and Alliance Française de Nairobi will team up on a creative music workshop project; with the working title Oud Meets Swahili and Mijikenda Music. This project will bring Kenyan artists from the Swahili and Mijikenda cultures of the Kenyan coastal region to collaborate with the Franco-Tunisian oud maestro, Jean-Pierre Smadja, alias Smadj to compose, perform and produce music that will engage with the audiences.

Smadj posing with the oud instrument

Smadj posing with the oud instrument

This project intends to help uncover the link between the oud and the music from the Swahili and Mijikenda cultures found on the Kenyan coast. Smadj will be joined on this project by taarab singer Mwanate Kibwana from the group Lelele Africa and mwanzere singer Mohamed Said Ngana, better known as Bado, the son of legendary mwanzere singer Nyerere wa Konde.

Mwanate Kibwana of Lelele Africa

Mwanate Kibwana of Lelele Africa

Bado during a studio session at Ketebul Music

Bado during a studio session at Ketebul Music

The project, which is supported by the Instut Francais under their IFPROG umbrella, will feature a 3 day creative workshop which will culminate with 2 days of studio recording of the material generated at the workshop, and a 2 hour show at the Alliance Française de Nairobi gardens on the 14th of May 2016.

Nyerere wa Konde from Kilifi

Nyerere wa Konde from Kilifi (Bado's father)

IFProg is a digital platform for cultural and artistic projects taking place abroad to deposit them in the annual device support of the French Institute.

More details on participants and schedule of the project will follow in due course.

smadj
26
Feb
2016

Ketebul Music Retracing Music From the Coast

The Ketebul Music crew has been in Mombasa, a city on the coastal region of Kenya since 20th of February 2016, on a quest to retrace music from that region. The aim of this trip is to prepare a 13-episode TV show that will be aired on a local media. This show will focus on the different styles and genres of music from the region, including both traditional and new generation music.

The show aims to showcase a contrast between 12 traditional  and 12 modern musical groups.  Within the two-week period the team, together with Diane Thram, Director of International Library of African Music (ILAM) will also repatriate music recorded earlier by ILAM exclusively from the coastal region.

Other than intensive interviews of both music groups , their audiences and instrument-makers, the show will also present live performances by both modern and traditional groups from the coastal region.

More on this to follow.

 

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22
Jan
2016

The Singing Wells Project : Rediscovering the lost Royal Drums of the Buganda Kingdom

The Singing Wells Project completed a succesful trip yet again and this time the focus was on Uganda. The Singing Wells project, now in it’s  4th year, is a partnership between Ketebul Music and Abubilla Music Foundation, which aims at preserving East Africa’s cultural music heritage now and for the future.

The journey to Uganda began on the 28th of November, 2015 when the team which included, Tabu Osusa, Founder, Ketebul Music Jimmy Allen, Founder Abubilla Music Foundation , Steve Kivutia, Patrick Ondiek, Hunter Allen and Nick Abonyo assembled in Kenya and flew to Uganda in the quest to rediscover the Lost Royal Drums of the Buganda Kingdom, the entenga drums.

Drum Players

Entenga Royal Drummers

Along with flutes, trumpets, strings and the xylophone, the entenga were part of a set of instruments used by palace musicians of the Buganda Kingdom whose job was to entertain the Kabaka (Baganda King). From an interview with Musisi, the last surviving drummer who played in the palace, we learnt that the Kabaka in the early 1960’s loved the entenga drums so much that he had the drummers play every morning at 3am. He felt that the drums were so perfect, that this was the only time of the day when it was quiet enough to appreciate them fully. This music largely died when the Buganda palace was attacked and destroyed on May 23-24 1966. The Kabaka fled, the musicians were disbanded and the drums as well as other instruments destroyed.  Thereafter the  entenge were considered dead.

Big Wala Trumpets

Bigwara Trumpets

That is until we discovered that Livingstone Musisi, who was 16 when the palace was destroyed, was alive and well in his home village. In 2013, encouraged by the works of James Isabirye, a lecturer at Kyambogo University in Uganda, as well as our partner for the Singing Wells project in Uganda who has been actively reviving the bigwara trumpets, we decided to revive the entenga drums. The Abubilla Music Foundation availed funds to James and Musisi and charged them with the task of assembling an entire set of entenga drums as well as putting together a team of musicians and train them in the almost extinct art of playing the entenga drums.

Livingstone Musisi during an interview

Livingstone Musisi during an interview

At the end of November 2015, armed with the recordings of palace musicians that were done by ethnomusicologist, Hugh Tracey, and thanks to the International Library of African Music, the Singing Wells embarked on our field trip which also included repatriating Hugh Tracey’s recordings to the last surviving palace musicians and institutions of learning in Uganda.

All through the few days we spent in Uganda, we learnt a great deal. On December 1, we traveled from Kampala to Jinja to the village of Bukakaire to listen to the Bukakaire Bigwara players led by the last surviving trumpeter from the Busoga palace, James Lugolole.

James Lugolole

James Lugolole

On the 2nd of December  2015, the team together with James Isabirye travelled to a shop called Ssebengwa Drum Makers, a shop run by a man called Abass Miriimu from the village of Mpampire. This village is famously known for their drum making skills. Abbas was a skilled drum maker of various Baganda traditional drums including the entenga.

Abas Miriimi

Abas Miriimu

Step by step he took us through the drum making process which included preparing the wood and letting it dry in the sun for 24 hours, then cutting the dry wood to size, preparing the outside of the drum, the two stages of stringing the drum, drying and rolling the cow hide strings, all the way to the final stage which is tuning the drums.

Preparing the wood

Preparing the wood

Cutting the wood to size

Cutting the wood to size

 

Stringing The Drums

Stringing The Drums

 

Drums being wetted for tuning

Drums being wetted for tuning

We then travelled to two separate villages to interview four other surviving members  of the Kabaka’s Palace musicians. Richard  Sewanyana, a flute palyer, Ssalongo Byakyalo Kakanzu one of the last surviving trumpet players, Ben Nsumbuga Ntabula a drummer and finally Kapolyano Kyobe a xylophone player whose father was killed during the attack.

Ssalango being interviewed

Ssalango being interviewed

December 3rd was our final day in Uganda before we headed back to Nairobi. We identified a whole set of extra ordinary musicians from our 2013 visit to Uganda and invited them for studio recording sessions at the Ketebul Music Studio.

More on the studio sessions soon.

For more on The Singing Wells click here

 

entenga
12
Jan
2016

The Passing of a Legend; Michael Kinyany

Ketebul Music wishes to extend our condolences to the family of Michael Kinyany who passed away on the 18th of December 2015.

Michael Kinyany during an interview with Ketebul Music

Michael Kinyany during an interview with Ketebul Music

Michael Kinyany was a member of the group Lang Obiero that played benga and rumba in the 1950’s. Lang Obiero was among the groups recorded by ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracy in the early 1950’s. The group was one of the leading bands at that time and Michael was the youngest member.

Left to right: Michael Kinyany Prof. Diane Thram (Director ILAM), Tabu Osusa (Founding Director Ketebul Music)

Left to right: Michael Kinyany Prof. Diane Thram (Director ILAM), Tabu Osusa (Founding Director Ketebul Music)

In August 2014, Ketebul Music in partnership with the International Library of African Music (ILAM) with the support of Abubilla Music Foundation repatriated some of these recordings which included Lang Obiero’s music. During that time, we met with and interviewed Michael and he gave us an insight on music in the 50’s and his take on music in general.

Kenyany was an astute business man and is a good example of how one can attain good education, be an entrepreneur and still be a great musician.

Left to right: Steve 64 (Ketebul Music, Sound Engineer), Michael Kinyany Hunter Allen (Videographer Abubilla)

Left to right: Steve 64 (Ketebul Music Sound Engineer), Michael Kinyany Hunter Allen (Videographer Abubilla)

Ketebul Music will feature him in our book ‘Shades of Benga’ set to be launched soon.

Keep it here for updates on this and much more

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