Father and daughter show holds promise

Sal Davis and his daughter Maia von Lekow at a recent show. Photo/Bill Odidi
Sal Davis and his daughter Maia von Lekow at a recent show. Photo/Bill Odidi 

In his heyday, Sal Davis was as close to an all-round entertainer as it could get. He was not just an acclaimed international singer who shared the stage with stars like Shirley McLaine, but was also one of the pioneer presenters on the Voice of Kenya radio and television.

In 1963, The Kenya Government invited Sal to sing at the Independence Civic Ball along with his idol Harry Belafonte and South Africa’s Miriam Makeba.

He then became the first Kenyan to pursue a singing career abroad and was often called the country’s Musical Ambassador.

In the late 1960s he run the Sal Davis Night Spot, what is now called The Florida Night Club on Koinange Street, Nairobi.

His fame spread from Europe to the Middle East where his 1984 song, “Back in Dubai” remains an anthem in the Emirates to this day.

As a cabaret performer, Sal commands a great presence on stage, interspersing his music with humorous anecdotes.

During his visits to Nairobi from his European base in the 1970s, he played regularly at Le Chateau, Hotel Inter-Continental, with his band, The Rafikis.

Sal, who turned 70 last year, has spent his retirement quietly, mostly playing golf in Mombasa.

However, music remains as close to his heart as it was in his younger, globetrotting days. He also holds great pride in a daughter who has followed in his musical footsteps.

Maia von Lekow, grew up with her mother and besides the occasional visit, only saw her father fleetingly. However, she says there is a bond that has developed between them as they have gotten to know each other a lot more recently.

Maia, who is jokingly called fruit salad, partly because of her mixed heritage – her mother is German-Italian – but also because her musical style is as varied as her parentage is; from jazz to soul and folk.

Influenced by icons like Ella Fitzgerald and Natalie Cole, she began writing and composing on an acoustic guitar while studying in Australia.

It took four years of toil between Nairobi and Berlin, before the production of her debut album “Drift” was complete in 2011.

The last time father and daughter shared a stage was at Tamarind, Mombasa in 2010.

So, now the first real, coordinated performance between the great veteran and his progeny takes place tonight (Friday) at Nairobi’s Tree House.

During tonight’s (Friday) show, Sal will be going back to the classics of his time and one of the songs that Maia is looking forward to performing with him is the unforgettable 1963 hit “Makini”.

His other hits include “Sema” and a cover version of the Ray Charles song “Unchain my heart

Maia will open the show playing some of her own recent favourites like “Uko Wapi” “Sunflower Avenue” and “Move Over” before her old man comes on.

“It will be a journey from the Now to Then,” is how she puts it. “We will then round up the night by performing some songs together.”

Despite being a generation apart, father and daughter share a few musical similarities.

Maia has a deep appreciation for Blues and Soul with an African folk twist, while Sal, whose stage name comes from his love of the American entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., often takes his music to the boundary of Soul with Rock and Roll.