The Influences series from Singing Wells involves contemporary East African musicians collaborating with the groups and artists we discover during our field recording visits. The result is a unique fusion of contemporary and traditional themes. Here we introduce the artists who have created Influences songs for Singing Wells……
Shiphton Onyango 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 that of a singing bird. He is a singer/songwriter of great sensitivity and an acoustic guitar player, backed by his 5-piece band of accomplished musicians.
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.
Winyo is also a professional photographer, actor and a TV producer. He is currently the executive video producer for a Kenyan media company called Big Foot productions, which has produced several local TV shows.
His goal is to take African music all over the world and enliven people to dance and sing to the sweet and melodic sounds of African songs and music.
Winyo’s debut album ‘Benga Blues’ has recently been released. Click here to view on YouTube.
As an artist, Eddie Grey has been considered a fore runner in the entertainment circles and specifically for his contribution to jazz in East Africa. His roots in music begin long before he first touched an instrument. He was born in what he describes as an ordinary family in a modest country side setting. Coming from a musical family, he spent most of his childhood enjoying the influences of jazz, soul and pop artists at the time. His greatest influence was of course Michael Jackson, not only for his musical composition but for his unique sound. Find Eddie Grey on Facebook here.
Eddie joined the Singing Wells team on the field recording trip to Kenya (Great Rift Valley).
Akello Jackie is a young Ugandan singer who writes and performs both African contemporary and urban music in languages like Acholi (her mother tongue), luganda, abit of Kiswahili and English, among other languages.
Akello started her musical journey as a young girl in her junior school leading in school musicals. Later on at 13 years she began participating in church, where she sang during conferences, believers’ gatherings and conventions. As her passion for music grew, she has later shared stages with such greats as Uganda’s own Susan Kerunen in a girls group called “Anyira” a luo word meaning “the girls”, led by Miss Susan Kerunen herself. After she then emerged as a professional backup singer with her first song being “Aluru” from Uganda’s own Michael Ouma’s debut album, still in the same light she joined Miss Tshila in a girls band called “Tshila and the Diamond’s”, still in this journey she worked with Miss Lilian Mbabazi in a band called “Lillian and the Sun downers”, among others.
Akello now begins a new journey of composing and writing her own music which she chooses to call “Hybrid”, a simple cross between urban sounds and local tunes back home.
Akello joined the Singing Wells team on the recording trip to Northern Uganda in December 2012.