It has been billed as Kenya’s biggest virtual concert bringing together a host of the best-loved music stars for an hour's performance that celebrates the country's tenacity amid a global pandemic.
“Kenya Ni Yetu Live” is an online concert this Saturday night featuring some of the most accomplished music stars across various genres on one stage.
From Afropop stars like Suzanna Owiyo, Eric Wainaina and Sauti Sol to the choral voices of the youthful Redfourth Chorus, and the classical talents of Elizabeth Njoroge along with the Nairobi String Quartet.
The concert also features the most famous country music performer Sir Elvis and international guest Gramps Morgan of Jamaican band Morgan Heritage.
The performances showcase the diversity of Kenyan music to celebrate the resilience of the nation in the face of the adversity of Covid-19.
“Music allows us to share our emotions at a time when we can't see each other or hold each other,” says Eric. He explains that the lyrics of a song or the chords will always transport people to a certain place and time No surprises then that Eric will be performing his best-known song “Daima Kenya” that he originally wrote in 1997, before recording its Kiswahili translation in 2001.
He says that Kenyans always feel a great connection to the song because it is played a lot during times of crisis but also during national celebrations.
“It reminds us what a great country we live in despite things not always working well. It gives us motivation and encouragement.”
He also says that the pandemic should wake up our collective consciousness to other global perils that may not have a remedy such as global warming
For Elizabeth Njoroge, founder of the music education programme Ghetto Classics that has trained over 500 children in Nairobi's Korogocho and other underprivileged areas, musicians have been affected greatly by the situation because their existence depends on the audience. “Despite the challenging times, we always find ways to make things work out. We are teaching the children in smaller groups because of social distancing rules,” she says.
Elizabeth's classical performance for the concert will consist of “Ave Maria” and her rendition of Andrea Bocelli's timeless piece “The Prayer.”
She will be accompanied by the Nairobi String Quartet that comprises some of the best classical players: violinists David Ralak, Ken Mwiti, and Emmanuel Nacheri along with cellist Masala Sefu.
“I was very keen to be a part of this wonderful idea and it is something we can do as Kenyans to bring people together during these trying times,” says Elizabeth.
Suzanna Owiyo says the last few months have been a period of reflection on the purpose of life. “Life can change drastically and we are not in control of our destiny,” says the singer and guitarist. She is delighted that even amid the pandemic, music is still alive and artistes and others in the industry have accepted the new reality and devised innovative ways to keep the music alive. “The future of live music is bright,” says Suzanna.
The concert is another opportunity for the trio of H_art the Band, to perform the inspirational “El Shaddai” that has resonated with music fans during this turbulent period. The song that was first written two years ago by band member Mordecai and their bassist Bensoul was eventually released on their new album “Made In The Streets” and it has been one of the biggest hits for any Kenyan act in 2020. “Coincidentally, the video was released just after the first case of Covid 19 was reported in Kenya so it's all part of God’s plan,” says Wachira Gatama of the group that combines Afropop with spoken word and poetry (Afro Poetry).
The members of the choral music ensemble The Redfourth Chorus that comprises singers from various high schools are thrilled at this great opportunity to perform alongside some of the country's most accomplished musicians.
The group founder Philip “Filah” Tuju says the exposure of working with the industry's top players in a fresh concept is exciting.