An old LP cover dug out of the Concertzender archives. The Nairobi Beat.
With all the sad news coming from Kenya it is good to also hear some cheerful sounds from there. Popmusic from Kenya knows a broad variety of styles, melodies, instruments, lyrics and languages. Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, has been a meeting point for musicians from Kenya with different backgrounds throughout time. The same applies to musicians from surrounding countries who came to Nairobi to perform in the clubs, bars and hotels. The allogamy between all the musical styles did not provide a typical Kenyan sound but multiple Kenyan sounds. The musical diversity is mostly a reflection of the variety in ethnic groups. Every one of the (approximately 40) ethnic groups has their own artists who sing in their own language. Melodies, rhythms and themes that are sung reflect the ethnic identity of the musicians. The Nairobi Beat, an LP from 1989, brings a collection of the most popular styles that could be heard in the streets of Nairobi at the time. Because the lion’s share of these bands don’t have the means to sell their music abroad this collection is a unique opportunity to meet Kenya’s best kept musical secrets. A friend of mine returned from Kenya a few weeks ago. The CD with traditional music from the Taita region of the Gonda Traditional Entertainers that she brought along for me provides great music that you can hear after the LP. (Special thanks to Rhoda Horemans)