I’m new to Singing Wells and I’ve spent the last few weeks listening to pretty much every song on the site, getting to know the amazing traditional music of East Africa! It was tough to pick, but for my first blog post I thought I’d share my top 5 songs so far.
1. Otacho Young Stars – Amilo Love
The Singing Wells team first encountered the Otacho Young Stars group on a trip to record the music of the Luo in Western Kenya in December 2011. They were later invited to Ketebul Studios in Nairobi to form part of our influences series. I love this song because it’s cheery and upbeat. It’s the kind of song everyone should listen to when they wake up to start the day with positive vibes.
2. Ochieng Nelly – Osare
I’ll admit, a few weeks ago I knew very little about the history of Benga. But the more I’ve found out, the more meaningful this song is. Ochieng was one of the founders of Benga, a Kenyan music genre adapted by the Kikuyu musicians of the ’60s. We were privileged to have the chance to record him and preserve his music in March 2014. Sadly, Ochieng died soon after. Had we not recorded and documented these songs, they might have been lost forever.
3. Mariene Traditional Dancers – Mpandi mautini
This group was formed in 2003. They are from the Ameru Ethnic Community and their musical style is Kirarire and Authi. The lead singer wears Murungi, an ornament on both sides of the arms which is worn by the initiator/circumciser; it signifies a man of respect and authority. This one made it onto the top five because of the incredible clothing and dance moves.
4. Kumbuka Asee – Itinga
These guys are some of my favourites. Again, great moves, great outfits and great rhythm. The group is led by Margaret Mbia and plays in the musical style of Kilumi, wathi wa kikamba. They were formed in 1974 and the two drums at the front are called Kilumi, played by Makai King’ei and Koka Mbindyo.
5. Ohalanga Drum Solo – Keith Moon
Final favourite has to be the Ohalanga Drum Solo by Keith Moon, filmed in Singing Wells’ 2011 trip through Northern Kenya. 0.52 secs is my favourite moment, when Keith stands up and the dude behind him pulls his chair back – as if they both know he can’t stay sitting down when playing a rhythm that good!
What are your favourite Singing Wells songs? Tweet us your thoughts: @singingwells