France-based singer teams up with Benga artiste in homage song to Kenya’s Paris Olympics team

Shiphton Winyo, a Kenyan singer-songwriter.

Photo credit: Pool

In the spirit of World Music Day being observed on Friday, a musical synergy between Kenya and France will be unveiled in Nairobi tonight (June 21, 2024). Singer-songwriter-guitarist Shipton Winyo and Edward Kamau, a Kenyan-born singer, guitarist and producer based in France, will premiere their collaboration, Running for Gold, a song composed to support the Kenyan team to next month’s Olympic Games in Paris.

“This is a homage to Kenyan athletes to mark the occasion and strengthen the links between the two countries,” says Kamau who has lived in France for 15 years. After Friday’s concert, the two musicians will then travel to France next week for a series of performances that coincide with the buildup to the Summer Olympics.

The new song will be on their joint set during the Nuits Metis Festival in Miramas, a city in southern France, where the Kenyan Olympics team is holding its Pre-Olympics training camp. Kamau who is a resident in Miramas, connected with the festival organisers and then partnered with Alliance Francaise, Nairobi for a cultural exchange between Kenya and France. Incidentally World Music Day (Fete De La Musique), first celebrated in Paris in 1982 has since become a global event marked with free concerts in more than 120 countries

“When you hear the song then you know it is all about the hard work that Kenyans put in to achieve gold or to achieve anything else for that matter. Kenyans are industrious. The theme resonates with not just the competitors but also the fans cheering them on,” explains Winyo.

The song was masterminded by Kamau who first moved to France after completing high school in Kenya, to study engineering. “We never actually physically met,” explains Kamau. “I had my idea, sent it to Winyo and he upped it like crazy, then I had to up the game again. It was like a competition; we kept pushing each other just like the Kenyan athletes do every time,” he says, a look of satisfaction on his face.

Edward Kamau, a Kenyan-born French-based singer, songwriter & guitarist.

Photo credit: Pool

Winyo recalls that right from the first recording, he could sense that he was dealing with a very soulful musician just from his touch of the guitar. “I was so excited when I got back to him on WhatsApp telling him how good it was. I rushed into the studio to give it a benga feel and added some Swahili lyrics and the song was born,” he says.

Kamau travelled to Kenya this month to join Winyo for an artist residency that involves creating music together that will be performed at Friday’s concert and at events in France. The musicians will also perform at the Kenya House Experience in Paris which has been established to promote the Kenyan brand during the Olympic Games.

Kamau is accompanied in Nairobi by Argentinian musician Maximiliano D’Ambrosio who plays the bandoneon (an instrument resembling the accordion and a mainstay of tango music). They have never formally played together and when the chance came to travel to Kenya, then Kamau thought it would be a good opportunity to bring along his mentor.

Maximiliano D'Ambrosio (standing back left), an Argentinian bandoneon player.

Photo credit: Pool

“This experience has been out of the world for me because I have learnt a style of music that is totally foreign to what I am used to,” says D’Ambrosio who is member of the Deleones Tango Orquesta an Argentinian/French ensemble. “The rhythms follow a specific groove and then you have the energy and the lyrics which decorate the music. At the beginning I found it hard to understand but now I am comfortable because it is music that you must feel and play. After this trip, I won’t be the same again as a musician.”

“These residencies are important because as a musician you never stop learning,” observes Winyo as he turns to Kamau. “You taught me some chords on the guitar, when we are playing your song System to Free. I also teach him some benga rhythms and time signatures that are unique to benga. It is a learning process.”

During Winyo’s acoustic session show at Nairobi’s Geco Café on Wednesday night, he called up Kamau on stage and they gave the audience a sneak peek of Running for Gold to a rapturous reception.

The single will be released today on all the major digital streaming platforms and the duo then plan to work on songs for a joint EP. Kamau is already excited about contributing additional lyrics to a song called Lamborghini on Winyo’s upcoming album

After the tour of France, Winyo has several dates in UK, Poland, Germany and Sweden before returning home in August to launch his latest album Benga Nostalgia

Meanwhile, Kamau is now motivated to spend more connecting to music in Kenya. “I want to do six months in France and a similar period here and build on these exchanges that have developed during this project,” he says.

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.