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Kenyan choir makes history in America

By George Orido | Published Wed, December 13th 2017 at 22:37, Updated December 13th 2017 at 22:49 GMT +3
Nairobi Chamber Chorus directed by Ken Wakia made history when they became the first Kenyan group to perform on Main Broadway at the Cipriani 25, in front of the famous Wall Street bull statute. [George Orido, Standard]

In summary

  • Impressed guests asked for the group’s CDs, with some suggesting a recording deal be drawn up.
  • Kenyan choir takes Broadway by storm, nears a recording deal

Broadway, a famous street in Manhattan, New York, is a worldwide leader in stage entertainment.

Broadway shows are a must-see entertainment for travellers in New York.

It was therefore no mean feat for the Nairobi Chamber Chorus to perform on Broadway, making history as the first Kenyan group to perform there.

A cool breeze blows in off the Hudson River. The Statue of Liberty stands as if to salute the Kenyan music group directed by Ken Wakia as it enters the stage.

Sarah Ford, who is in charge of logistics for Agco Corporation, is at hand to lead the 20-member acapella group into this majestic theatre with classical paintings and wall carvings.

In here, many a sea traveller stopped by to pick travel tickets on ships that would open American East Coast to the rest of the world.

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Those who perished in that Titanic vessel had their tickets from here. Amid this rich history,  the Nairobi Chamber Chorus was here to give a message of hope and peace to the world as dignitaries gathered to honour Martin Richenhagen for his distinguished contribution to agribusiness and food security in the world.

And what a better way to start the repertoire with Baba Nipe Shamba (Dad give me a farm) composed by Kenya’s foremost composer Zalo?

In the song, the persona asks his father to allocate him his piece of land so he may till and make a fortune out of it.

“The travails of life in the city are such that many live from hand to mouth yet there is so much to make in the farm,” he pleads with his dad.

Global Leadership Award Honoree Martin H. Richenhagen greets Nairobi Chamber Chorus members directed by maestro Ken Wakia when they made history by becoming the first ever Kenyan artistes to perform on Main Broadway when they performed at the Cipriani 25, in front of the famous Wall Street Bull statute last week. [Photo/GEORGE ORIDO]

The Kenyan chorus didn’t disappoint in these celebrations with such polished melodies and tamed voices that engulfed the hall packed with nearly 400 black tie executives drawn for the US, Germany and the rest of the World.

Maureen Obadha in conjunction with Grace Awittie led the group to Halleluya originally by Leonard Cohen keeping the guest on the edge of their seats and by the time they were done it was a standing ovation immersed in prolonged applause.

They continued to a great repertoire including an arrangement of Musa by Ochieng’ Makokeyo as well as Sigalala ululations.

Musa depicts a man who is abusing his wife after taking one for the road, a message that may have resonated albeit remotely to this American audience that has been bombarded by news of one Weinstein allegedly abusing women including Kenya’s own Lupita Nyong’o.

“I have been to this award every year and I can’t remember anything like it. The music was just amazing,” said one of the guests from Washington D.C at the end of the reception.

Top lawyers on Broadway proposed to have a recording deal with the group.

“How can you say you have no CDs yet this is top notch music? We must start the steps to have you come back here and record. Everyone here is asking for your CDs. Can you imagine!” said a Hollywood lawyer.


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