Music lovers will on Saturday be serenaded by the sweet sounds of exciting Kenyan music star Eric Wainaina in a back-to-back rare performance with local crooner Alexio Kawara, whose stock on the local music graph has been on the ascent.
Wainana, who has had joint shows with music superstar Oliver “Tuku”’ Mtukudzi in the past, will bring in his group of six to collaborate with Zimbabwean artists and audiences next week, according to show organisers Pamberi Trust.
They described the show, scheduled for The Mannenberg, as “a rich and colourful explosion of the music of Africa” in which the two artists will serenade their fans.
Alexio has proven himself to be a dynamic artist whose hit, Shaina, has become an anthem locally and has received extensive radio airplay. He performs with the group Shades of Black at various venues dotted around Harare and in other parts of the country.
Wainana is a multiple-award-winning and focused musician known for his excellence in crafting music. He has created a new contemporary sound for Kenyan music, blending Benga rhythms from the ’60s and ’70s with Western harmony to produce what is now dubbed Afro-Fusion.
He has maintained a strong presence in Nairobi despite his extensive music rendezvous in Africa, Europe and the USA, travelling home every year and releasing tracks that earned and kept his place in the local music charts.
His two award-winning records, Sawa Sawa (2001) and Twende Twende (2006) are still among the highest selling records in Kenya
Later this month, Alexio will again join Wainaina, alongside Tuku and Afro-jazz songbird Dudu Manhenga in separate performances at the month-long South African festival, Arts Alive.
These collaborations between performing artists of the region are part of a strong cultural project in the region conceived by African Synergy Trust in Johannesburg in partnership with Pamberi Trust.
According to his online biography, Wainaina was born in Nairobi in 1973. His love for music started at a young age when he got a piano at the age of four. The piano was originally intended for his brother Simon who instead took keen interest in football.
Wainaina grudgingly took piano lessons. He actively participated in the choir throughout elementary and high school.
Whilst growing up, Wainaina was influenced musically by international artists such as Papa Wemba, Youssou N’Dour, Lokua Kanza and Paul Simon.
He first stepped into the world of music with Five Alive, a gospel a cappella group that consisted of Victor Seii, Bob Kioko, Chris Kamau and David Mageria.
They drew their musical influence from Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Take 6. Dominating Kenya’s airwaves in 1995, Five Alive released their debut album Five Alive in 1996 and even went on to tour Europe the same year.
His experience with the group convinced Wainaina to pursue a professional career in music. In 1996 he performed and appeared in the video for Get in the Driver’s Seat, a song commissioned by the United Nations Drug Control Programme for a highly successful anti-drug campaign spanning 20 countries.
This not only set the stage for his eventual emergence as a solo artist, but also got him into the social concern and activism that characterises much of his music
When the group disbanded in 1997, Wainaina went on to join the Berklee College of Music in Boston, US, from which he graduated with a degree in Music, majoring in Songwriting and Record Engineering.
During his years at Berklee, Wainaina and his band travelled to different parts of the country to perform, as well as holding regular shows in Boston.
Together with his producer, Christian Kaufmann, he worked to produce a sound that would be distinctively Kenyan both in the music and the content of the lyrics.