The Singing Wells

The Singing Wells

A project in partnership with Abubilla Music – preserving East Africa’s cultural music heritage now and for the future.

The Name

The name ‘Singing Wells’ comes from a remarkable Kenyan tradition which epitomises the importance and power of music within the country.

During the dry season, as the sun rises, young boys from the Samburu tribe begin to gather around deep wells which are dug into the parched river bed.

As they begin to pull water from these wells, they start singing – from each well comes a different, simple song. As the songs begin, small herds of cows and goats appear from out of the bushes, climbing over the river bank and down to the river bed. Each herd recognises the song of ‘their well’ and makes their way towards it to drink.

Soon thousands of animals fill the river bed, called by the crystal clear song of their master. After each animal has drunk its fill, the herds begin to climb back out of the river bed, led by more small boys. The singers climb out of their wells and disappear into the day.

This extraordinary event has been going on for at least five generations.

The Project

This project will establish an ongoing programme to record, store and share the village music of East Africa thereby safeguarding the region’s cultural and musical heritage.

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