Category: Events + Concerts

IMG_7694 (1024x683)“Music to me is like blood, air and food. It’s that serious to me. If I wasn’t able to do music, I would be miserable; I probably wouldn’t even talk to people. I would be so upset and unhappy,” confesses American soul singer/producer Anthony Hamilton. In 2009, Anthony won a Grammy for the song “You’ve Got The Love I Need” with Al Green in the category of Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance. From his 2011 album “Back To Love” the song “Best Of Me” has got two nominations for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song at the upcoming (Jan 2014) Grammy Awards. The prolific singer confirms that he’s already recording his seventh album, which will feature his past-collaborator (in the song “I’m Cool”) David Banner. He says that he might also feature some new school cats.

Anthony has got a great sense of humour. Sitting across him at Hemingways Hotel (Oct 2013 in Nairobi) for my TV show’s link up segment interview, I hush up a small crowd (hotel staff and journalists) gathered around us, just to get another glimpse of the big-voiced singer. They all go silent, and then I clear my throat signaling Anthony who asks the crowd, “Did y’all hear that? You might wanna link up with her! Aaiiight go ahead babe.” Everyone bursts into laughter and I immediately reckon that I am in the presence of a great yet humble man.

As we start to converse, I ask him to demystify the notion that soul/R&B artists are this decade experiencing a rough time, thanks to rise of dance and pop music, in comparison to the 90s music era. “It’s not hard for me as I’ve done it for so long and I have a solid fan base who are willing to go with me to the end. However, it might be hard for other R&B/soul music acts that want to get into the music industry now. It’s going to be harder now to prove to people that they have it but it’s possible.”

“Back To Love”, my iPod’s most replayed album is a must-listen. I tell him and that my favourite song there is “Life has a way”—he seems pretty impressed at that and retorts pensively, “Yeah, that’s a great song of mine but “Coming From Where I Am From” (2003 sophomore album) is just that song and album for me. It’s the first song that came out at the point of my career when I was tired and fed up. I needed to be heard – that’s my once upon a time.” That album sold platinum and its second single, “Charlene” also did remarkably well. I still adore that song.

IMG_7706 (1024x683)Anthony’s story is inspiring; especially to indie artists: “A lot of time, we [artists] have aspirations and dreams and don’t pursue them. Be creative; don’t be afraid to be different; don’t be afraid to be yourself 100 %. I have done it and stuck with it. It takes a little time, but if you stick with it and it’s something people want to connect with, do it. It takes time but it’s paying. People want something that’s real, something that will make them feel good.”

Anthony has worked with the best of new school soul singers including D’angelo, Marsha Ambrosius, Keyshia Cole, Angie Stone, Jaheim and Musiq Soulchild among others. “I love working with many artists but Jill Scott is the mummy of soul music. Jill and I are pretty cool. Not only do we work together well on stage and in the studio but from time and again, we check on each other and talk.” The self-professed huge lover of hip hop says, “Sometimes I am happy, excited, mellow or chilled out while in the studio, depending on my mood and that of my producers. I also like music without any words and it doesn’t necessarily have to be jazz.”

Visiting my country has clearly left him in awe. “[Being in Kenya] is one of the moments in my life when I feel like God is just opening a way for me; I am starting to see the world. It’s my first time in Kenya and I am excited. It’s beautiful to be part of such a country that’s growing and is strong. We look to you guys, your beauty, and the success you are having in your country. We want to bridge the gap; you guys can come and stay with me in America.” It’s great to tap into Anthony’s open mind and craft. “In terms of what’s out now on the radio, I think it is fine. Young folks are finding a way to express themselves and exploring with music creating different genres. It’s attractive, I might take a few bits and pieces, and I might do a song with Future or Chris Brown. It’s just interesting when two different styles collaborate.”

I am left satisfied and thankful for the interview (so much soul food and life lessons of humility), right after which Anthony personally scribbles his contacts on my note-book as his bouncers, manager and entourage look on curiously.

BONUS: I have to write another blog post about Anthony Hamilton’s mind-blowing band and Kenyan concert. In the mean time, check the concert story I filed here:

Photos courtesy of Japheth Kagondu. 

POF Exhibition Dates PosterEdward Manyonge’s debut exhibition “Pieces of Fortune” is opening at The Michael Joseph Centre, Safaricom House this Sunday afternoon 25th August starting 3.00 p.m.– 5.00 p.m.  

So excited! this is the second exhibition I am curating :-)

Nway, “Pieces of Fortune” celebrates the freedom provided by modern aspects of art and its collection is a touch of contemporary designs with some depicting architectural aspects while providing a minimalistic yet valiant feel to Edward’s paintings, most of which are acrylic on canvas.

Painter Edward’s bold and colorful works champion both figurative and abstract mediums that enthrall into an inward journey into his world. His style portrays vivid images and patterns painted “from the inside out” as he puts it, so as to allow for the present moment to inform the process of creation with an intention to feed heart and soul and instill a sense of peace and joy.

Edward started “playing with colors” while still as young as five years old. He would later emerge Second Best in Kenya in a national competition on painting sponsored by Kiwi at 12 years old. His works have previously been exhibited at joint exhibitions including at Alliance Française and at Braeburn Garden Estate. After studying Art, Design and Photography at the Buru Buru Fine Arts, Edward is now Braeburn Garden Estate High School’s Graphic Designer and enjoys painting at any given free time.

“Pieces of Fortune” exhibition has been supported by Michael Joseph Centre and opens for public viewing from Monday 25th August till 2nd September 2013. Surprise guests will grace the exhibition’s opening in an acoustic performance, after which Edward will give the guests a brief welcoming note. You are invited.

Exhibition curated by Anyiko Owoko. For reservations of seats/a chance to interview artist Edward Manyonge/purchase or have art work reserved, email 



(37 of 40)Erykah Badu loves her personal space. While at her exclusive press conference at Sankara hotel in Kenya, she first requests to move back the dozen microphones on the table staring closely at her. “Hi Nairobi, hello, how’s everyone doing?” The presence of the queen of neo soul in the room is overwhelming, so much that nobody greets her back, at first. It’s 3pm, about 14 hours since her arrival in the country and four hours since the cancellation of her first press conference. But despite jet lag and sleepiness that she confesses to fighting, Ms Badu looks pretty well rested. When the moderator opens the floor for questions, it’s not a fist-fight as you would expect, everyone seems to be intimidated—I am. But as soon as the soft-spoken singer starts to chat, the air around the room becomes more conducive.

She immediately states that music and performance is therapy to her. “Music is almost like the fifth element, it brings about emotion and change in many ways. Its frequency is specific; each note has its own vibration that can be measured. I write lyrics according to what the music makes me feel.”

Erykah is also a songwriter, actor, director, producer and activist—a personification of artistry. From her 90s turban, long dresses and Afros to now—long flowing and kinky hair easy-going with vintage hats; her image has evolved over the years. Erykah’s brass African-map-shaped ring stands out in her fashionable ensemble of cobalt pajama-esque pants, a navy blue top, and numerous humongous wooden bangles. “My taste in humor, fashion, music and film are all in the same category. I like to hear what I like to feel and see, I just gravitate towards things that I get attracted to aesthetically, it’s the art of creating an experience for people to share”, she says. Her music is however unmoved, she’s remained consistent, versatile and unparalleled— almost like she’s has always been in her own world.

The next day at exactly 9.15 pm at Carnivore gardens, Erykah gets on stage. From hard stepping hip hop to mellow sounds, Erykah is a fierce and fearless vocalist/performer. She’s also playing an electronic drum kit in a crazy dance-set with her band. Constantly sipping from her little thermos flask what could be water or vodka or whatever, that nevertheless fires her up at every sip. “At the back! What the fuck you looking at!?” She engages the audience who roar back at her. She sings out loud mixing cussing words with banter, unrelated. Here, she’s self-assured and at home.

I finally get the balls to shoot a question at Ms Badu on her connection to the motherland.

“My first connection to Africa is because about three generations back my family was brought to America from Africa. As Africans living in America, it’s hard to trace our roots so we have to sometimes create our own history, communities and tribes to identify with. Because our birth right is not in place we want to belong to Africa in some kind of way.” Erykah is also involved with the Kemetic community (the study of Egyptian writings) which influenced her stage name. Originally named Erica after a famous soap opera star of the 70s, soon after becoming a recording artist, she changed her name’s suffix to Kah (The inner self that cannot be contaminated). “I wanted to have a name that would have some kind of vibrational frequency that could connect me to my past and future. Badu means 10th born in Ghana, I don’t know why I am [one] but we’ll find out, I am still evolving and creating every day.”

Erykah is also a doula (an assistant to a birthing mother). And she equates birth of life to music. “As a doula I have to be like water, always out-of-the-way to help. But when am on stage am a different kind of servant, I am the mother and the audience is helping me give birth.” On stage, she feeds off the audience’s energy and seems taken a back at Nairobians serenading most of her songs word-for-word. This is where she gives her all. Her typical raspy voice suddenly sounds like three soul singers in one and still manages to outshine her two powerful vocalists paired with her tight six-man band—in a good way. When the ‘Badu, Badu, Badu!’ rhythmic chant overwhelms Erykah, she asks each member of the audience to yell out their own names instead. “What? Are you afraid to scream out your name?” She prods.

It’s a two-hour long concert (non-stop) that sees Erykah, after every couple of minutes shed something. From her shawl, socks to heels—period. When she performs Window Seat, nobody is certain she won’t drop more clothes. She doesn’t.

“Window seat video was performance art and nudity always played a big part in it because [it] demonstrates the bareness of the subject. My issue was group think, which affects all spheres of life from politics to media. I shot the video is Dallas as at the site where JFK was assassinated. As I took each step I eliminated a piece of clothing that represented a thought or something I had learnt forcefully or not here on the planet and as I was totally nude—I was assassinated. In America nudity is grossly misunderstood when it’s not packaged for the consumption of men, I hope a lot of people got the point but if they didn’t, they don’t have to, you cannot censor art.”

My best moment at the concert is her performance of Gone baby gone and Bag Lady. The drum and electric guitar provide a sultry bouncy beat—that deep neo soul. When performing Love of my life (An ode to Hip Hop), her  collaboration with former boyfriend Common, she glows like a woman in love. Should have asked her to pass over Common’s number or Andre’s. WTF.

IMG_9559The four-time Grammy award-winning singer has five albums. Her first album (Baduizim) came out in February 1997. Her second album Live came out the same year  in November. The same day her son was born. “I spent the whole of my first pregnancy working at the beginning of my career; I had to breast feed and create a home on the tour bus. I know no music business without my children,” says the mother of three.

Her last song Call Tyrone leaves an absolute sense of satisfaction. She’s incessantly chanting ‘peace’ and bids a gratified crowd goodbye displaying with her hands heliograph signs for love and peace. The undisputed queen of neo soul doubles up as queen of the night. She exits. It’s just a few minutes to midnight: 12.12.12, Kenya’s 49th Independence Day.

For more info:

There is a building at the well-groomed Kifaru gardens disguised as a house. Inside lies a recording studio, a music cum book library and even picturesque collections of Eric Wainaina’s musical journey. This was the venue for the listening party of his third album titled ‘Love and Protest.’ On that cold night, bonfires lit up the garden’s surrounding. Inside the ‘house’ was a different kind of fire fuelled by three special rooms separated by distinct sounds and tags on each door labeled, ‘Love’, ’Protest’ and ’Groovy’.

Up and about the partitions, guests sampled songs from ‘Love and Protest.’ Notable were groovy tracks like ‘Orutu special,’ a song bordering between the benga genre-fused with the orutu (a traditional Luo one stringed fiddle), this one made us (Wanjeri and I) dance at the first listen. The song ‘Mariana’ was harmonious and sweet sounding akin to the echo of saying that name. Ok, say ‘Mariana’… shhhhhh, hear the echo? Certainly a certified feel-good jam! (alliteration naaaayo! #ReasonsWhyIownThisBlog :-)

Do you remember when the Wainaina-Factor shun corruption using the simple yet brilliant hit song ‘Nchi ya kitu kidogo’? Well the muse behind all that seems to be intact as if frozen by time and now ready to melt again. At the center of his compositions are messages gunning for reform. That Wainaina- Factor has now given birth to the song ‘Revolution’ which was written to give a voice to the disempowered. “There is a Che Guevara saying that goes, ‘All rebellion comes from a place of Love’. Like the rest of Kenyans, I was saddened by the post-election violence. In trying to make sense of the sad occurrence I realized that people protest where there is no love, and that said; protest is just part of patriotism. At the end of the day, after voting we are still one despite the different tribes,” said Eric.

‘The road’ is a song collaboration between friends. Eric and Senegalese world star Baaba Maal who enriched ‘Love and Protest’ by adding distinct sounds of mbalaax, a stamp of a Senegalese music style. “From the look of things Eric isn’t going anywhere. In fact, he seems to be all over the place of late,” that would be Africa’s testimony is she would talk. Eric most recently graced the Umoja festival in Maputo. Just weeks before that he was among a lineup of African musicians performing at the Arts Alive festival in Johannesburg, S.A. In a fateful twist that came to be Eric’s opportune moment to meet Nigerian born songbird Asa, who was also present at the festival. “Love and Protest was actually ready in 2008 but when I heard Asa, her sounds gave me  a whole new inspiration, enough to have stalled the album till now. Meeting her this year was amazing and I hope to work with her on a song in the near future,” asserted the multi award-winning singer, actor and playwright.

So, why don’t I usually get loads of such exclusive invites to listening parties? Kenyan musicians, iko nini? I warmed up to the whole idea and loved the execution, I enjoyed it! Eric backed by Aaron Rimbui on the keyboard and The Mapinduzi Band even gave us a live performance at the ‘house,’ Shukran to y’all! S/O to Nanjira.

BONUS: Love and Protest is Eric’s first self-produced album. It covers elements of reggae, benga and R & B. Eric & The Best Band in Africa launched the 14-track album in DEC 2011. I got my copy, get yours! For more information please visit

Bez has an air of coolness around him. About 5’10” tall, he’s rocking a grey fedora, wayfarer glasses, a white tee, an African beaded chain and slightly cropped up denim trousers leaving his argyle brown and turquoise socks peeping from the shoes. While in action during his first stage-performance and visit to Kenya, he transcends into a sweet-voiced guitar playing musician. This is exactly what I will settle for if I don’t get married to a tall, dark & handsome man :-)

I first stumbled on Bez music via a fellow music junkie (some drugs are actually good). I thought that Bez was just another one of those cool American kids, for real. Well, after I heard ‘Zuciya Daya’ a little research led me to discovering that Bez is actually from Nigeria. One of those impressive eureka moments! I was lured into knowing him better when I got to understand the message in the song ‘Zuciya Daya.’

Most recently, I was hit by great news that Bez would be visiting the country for a jam-session (a series of random-acoustic gigs displaying budding and talented artists organized by Blackman and Sara) I couldn’t wait to buy myself a copy of ‘Super Sun’, Bez debut album released on July 24th 2011. Experiencing a taste of acoustic-Bez was really great! Not to mention, when his drummist played, even the statues at the MJ center did the Kemboi dance .. Walalala! Nway I am glad to share this review of ‘Super Sun.’ with you all;

1. Super sun 4.15

Contemporary R&B fused in a little jazz. Life is definitely about ‘ups and downs.’ This song is an assertion that despite the struggles one day you will be at your brightest. It basically tells you not to be afraid of stretching into your ultimate limit. Quite the inspirational entry into the album!

2. Over you 3.49

This one has a modern ‘Earth, Wind & Fire’ feel fused in a John Legend ‘Green light’ feel. Here Bez obviously flaunts his musical versatility. He sings to his jilted lover, asking for his keys to the car and the house, because he is now over her.

3. Zuciya Daya 5.07

Love this joint. It’s one of those feel-good tracks. Mellow and soulful. At the concert he (Bez) explained that in Hausa, his native language, the closest translation to ‘zuciya daya’ is doing something whole heartedly. It’s a serenade to a beloved saying, “Irrespective of all the problems that our relationship may encounter we should both be happy. But only if we do it whole heartedly. Someone teach me Hausa and see how I will start to pick bros, I KID :-) Or maybe not.

5. Say 4.24

Ready is an important word. It means; to prepare mentally and physically for something. If you are in sync with your life, then you know that you have to be ready for a lot of things that life throws your way. Challenges, love, new appointments, sex, growth, relationships, heartbreak, sudden loss, windfall, the list is endless. Bez sings to a beloved asking her to SAY that she’ll be ready and waiting for him. Happily, she sings back saying, “I will be ready for you!” Definitely replay material- Neosoul redefined! The kind of song that makes you ask yourself, “I am ready?”

10. Stop pretending 4.09

Love love love this one! This is an acoustic song about a guy who was dating three different girls. He sings to them all, asking each one of them why they keep feigning that they don’t want him. Lost in their games, and their images on his mirror while shaving he leaves them all … Left me wondering, why was he dating THREE different women?

11. More you 4.27

If I had a list of my ‘Top 65 Best Songs ‘in the world, this one would still make it into Top 40. Love it too much I would freaking do a different post just to review it solo :-)  If songs had distant relatives this one would be related to Maxwell’s ‘Playing possum’ and Sade’s ‘The safest place.’ It’s such a beautiful acoustic song. I really loved the violins. Like ‘Lazizi’ it’s guitar work makes the song. The message in this song is jumbled. At the concert Bez described the state of wanting more from the person you love because of the pleasure that never depletes. Love this song because it describes the state of humanity. We never get satisfied. We always strive for more which p.s isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

‘Super sun’ is made up of 12 tracks, 2 live covers and one remix. You NEED this album for those chilled-out days. It’s cool to hear such a contemporary-sort-of-John-Legend mellow sound coming from Africa. Bez, the world is yours! Special S/O to cool-peeps Blackman & Sara.

BONUS: While speaking to Black Roses Bez revealed his ultimate definition of Music. “It’s an expression of my feelings. I am very spiritual, in that whatever I sing about is inspired by God. He uses me to speak to my listeners via the music. It’s my tool,” said Bez.

For more info visit

Photo courtesy of

Fashion High Tea

No sooner had i stepped into the city from The Lukenya safari last Friday than i got the call from Mr. Producer,  “Young girl  you are going to cover the fashion event tomorrow, so you better have prepared! ” That was cool, I thought to myself. I love fashion + my girl Wanjeri, was going to working there too, she is a writer with Urban Perspective (UP) pull-out formerly a magazine, which was part of the sponsors for the Fashion event.

That Friday night, sleep didn’t come easily. Couldn’t find a nice dress, even worse I didn’t have any HAT! I mean who has a HAT anyway? Unless if you are the duchess of something?  Contacted all my fellow fashionistas, MissJJT, Alicia and Louise, they all didn’t have HATS!

It was Saturday morning and still didn’t have a HAT! My big sister happened to have gone to town early that morning and on her way back made a stop at Maasai Market. At the verge of  a breakdown, I got a call from her, “What colour of  a HAT would you prefer?” and the rest was history :-)

Made it to the office by 1.00pm to pick my cameraman and the driver did his usual magic! Around 2.30pm we were checking into the exquisite Zen Garden and immediately I thanked God for my HAT! All the ladies looked amazing and HOT in various HATS.

As soon as I got in, it was like a reunion with my baby Wanjeri. Trust me, this is the kind of place where you want to at least have a partner to marvel with. No reaching into your hand bag un necessarily to remove the dirty bills that you have accumulated in your purse from the matatu change to buy a drink, NO. All the drinks were in the house, so was the food and loads of goodies.

Does this sound like heaven? Wait, the real deal was the Fashion Avant Garde.  I loved the print coloured little dresses, goodbye LBD (Little Black Dress) and welcoming bold and assorted colours! The HATS that came in all sizes and shapes. 89% of the gentlemen were graciously groomed and had the looks to complement it, quite the sight-seeing for me and Wanje :-)

If you watched O.C and Gossip Girl, this sure was a scene out of those socialite parties, kisses in the air, pleasantries everywhere, poses for the cameras (the photographers sure had a field day that was officially the first big photography event of 2011, they must have pixx to last them till September!) champagne and wine in plenty, savoury delicacies as air high as the waiters trays, from smoked salmon & cream cheese bruchetta, calamari rings, gloss pinacolada, assorted sushi platters to dosaja Danish pastries, just to mention. YES! All that is ACTUAL food, haha don’t worry I must have eaten half those things and didn’t even realize what they were. Let’s just say, I tried as much as possible to serve what looked edible :-)

The whole time, I was up and about trying to guide my cameraman as to what to capture and not while the same time trying to find me something at the Fashion exhibition where there were loads of regalia, from silver & African ornaments to shoes and dresses that were a tad costly! I particularly feel for a silver funky/chunky necklace that was retailing at 3,200/= I really tried to bargain but the elderly white woman who was selling them insisted, “My price is FIXED!” She was actually really nice to me, I got her card so am just gonna rob a bank in the course of this month so I go to her house and get all those damn necklaces :-) Wait, she should have just sold that necklace to me for 2,000/= now am gonna commit a felony! P.s do white people ever accept bargain?

Inside I came across one designer who makes clothes from recycled parachutes. I thought I saw something like that at the FAFA last year so I asked her, “Were you also showcasing some of your designs at FAFA, I might have seen something of the sort” She shot at me, “If you stayed for the whole show then you probably saw me and my designs!” WOW. Of course I looked like I wasn’t going to buy the exorbitant parachute dresses but Mrs. designer, you didn’t have to be that rude. Honestly I wouldn’t even buy those things. I am more of an afro-centric enthusiast when it comes to Fashion. So I moved on to these gems, earrings made out of bird feathers. The gist of them is you can wear one by itself or both but wait a minute one earring was going for 2,750/= what the fuck is that? For a feather? I specifically took the picture of them so I can start making my own feather earrings! Geez! I am also currently looking to buy beautiful birds with parallel featured feathers. Anyone tip me!

Before the fashion show I finally caught up with the multi tasking  diva @Makosewe for  a short interview right before we sneak for  a picture! Oh did i mention, loved her deep blue YSL dress which had matching velvet shoes, should have taken a photo of them damn! A staggering 97 % of all the event attendees lived up to the High Fashion dress code stipulated.

BONUS: All the event tickets sales will go towards supporting women in need of freedom. As of 91/1/2011 more than 40 women and babies have been detained in Pumwani hospital because of inability to clear their hospital bills! In the words of True Love Fashion Editor and also the event Co-coordinator, “People have been giving out in so many ways and it’s the same every time, we tried to bring in a different kind of twist to it, Fashion! I am glad that the event was totally sold out for a good cause”

Well, I am glad that I love my job and that I now own a bigass blue HAT  :-) In anticipation for the next Fashion event to outdo Fashion High Tea, in all the semantically possible ways!

Special shout out to Densu, Laftone, Wanjeri, Grace Makosewe, Pollyne and all the HOT men in attendance!

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