The Sound of Kenya

The Sound of Kenya

Kenya has one of the most diverse musical cultures in Africa, although it’s talent hasn’t been widely  acknowledged internationally as Ethiopian, Congolese and West African music has in the past decade. But that’s set to change with the Kenyan Special, which was released in April 2013, and is a compilation of music from the 1960s and 70s that documents this golden era in Kenyan music.

The compilation also highlights the unique and innovative relationship between Kenyan, Congolese, Zambian and Tanzanian musicians in this period when the finest bands of DR Congo (formerly Zaire) performed and even settled in Nairobi.

Daniel Kamau Mwai, or DK as he is popularly known, has three tracks on the Kenya Special collection and is also featured on the cover of the anthology. His music began being heard as he played in the villages around Thika back in the 1960s. His first recording was made after he sent a letter to the state-run Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (then known as Voice of Kenya) who referred him to the renowned producer David Amunga, who agreed to record and release his music.

DK describes his music as mix of benga and rumba. Benga is Kenya’s unique contribution to Afro-pop, spread from its Luo origins near Lake Victoria to the rest of the country in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Kalambya Boys’ Kivelenge song feature on Kenya Special is perfect sample of Kamba benga while the DK and Lulus Band tracks represent the Kikuyu benga.