Skip to main content
× THE NAIROBIAN NAIROBIAN SHOP TEN THINGS HEALTH FLASH BACK FASHION MONEY ASIAN ARENA FEATURES TRAVEL UNCLE TED BETTING POLITICS Podcasts E-Paper Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman Travelog TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified Jobs Games Crosswords Sudoku The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS

Music therapy: Singing to the sick gives King Fololo joy

By Esther Dianah | December 19th 2021 | 4 min read

WILLIS OCHIENG NGEI alias KING FOLOLO is a music artist who does music therapy for the sick. He spoke to ESTHER DIANAH about why he sings to patients for free and his grandmother’s prediction that became a reality.

Tell us about your background in music.

I am a full-time musician, vocalist, dancer and a guitarist with my band, Tazam AfroBand. My passion for music started when I was in Form Four. I didn’t know it was a career, so I did it as a hobby. I used to dance even without any music playing and my grandmother would always tell me that I was going to be an artist. I didn’t understand it then. It was like a prophecy; my granny spoke into my future.

When did it start? 

My addiction started when I joined the drama club. In high school, when most students went for French classes and drawing and art design, I went for music classes. We were the only two students in music class in the entire school with a population of 600 students. I started pursuing music professionally after high school.

Tell us about music therapy. 

Music therapy is an old tradition that is being rekindled right now in various hospitals and homes. It started in the Bible when David was asked to play the harp to make the king feel better. We sing to the sick any music of their choice because we believe music has comforting power. In 2017, I joined a couple of friends who invited me once to The Mater Misericordiae Hospital where the programme had been started, with artists like Kenzo, Suzzane Owiyo, and Sauti Sol. After they became big names, they left the programme, and I saw this as an opportunity to start music therapy. I do music therapy because it is a better way to use my gift and give back to the community. We do the therapy from Monday to Friday for three hours.

What do you gain from the therapy? 

The therapy is completely voluntary and free. We get a lot of good referrals as a band by the patients who hook us up with gig clubs, weddings and birthday ceremonies that pay us well.

Tell us about your family background. 

Both parents were teachers and very strict. My mother is still a headmistress, and my father was a headmaster until he passed away in 2013. Despite being very strict, my relationship with them has always been great. My mother is my pillar, my go-to person when things don’t make sense.

Name one thing from your family that inspired you to do music therapy.  

My dad loved music so much, he used to tell me stories about music bands from Congo when I was young. He particularly liked TPOK Jazz and would sing Franco and Madilu System tunes word by word. He told me the history of the bands in detail, how they started, and their respective progress over the years that made me more interested in pursuing my passion in music.

How is your relationship with your siblings?

We are four boys, and I am the second born. We are very close and since I’m the only artist in the family, I tend to be looked at as a black sheep because I’m different from my siblings who are more into corporate world.

Tell us briefly about your educational background.  

I went to Church of God Kindergarten, then Shauri Moyo Primary and Kibuye Mixed Primary School. I joined Kisumu Boys High School, and later joined Tangaza Music School for a two-year diploma course in music and arts.

Why are you doing music? 

Music is my passion, and it’s a way of expressing myself to the community and probably creating an impact to bring the kind of change needed in society.

Describe your style of music. 

My genre is a combination of Afropop, Afro Dancehall, and reggae vibes. I love the positive vibes.

If not music, which other career would you do? 

I always wanted to be a lawyer, probably that’s what I’d be doing right now.

What don’t you like most about Kenyan music industry?

 Lack of support from our people and also promotion of substandard music content that cannot compete on the international market.

What are some of the challenges you face in doing music therapy?

Singing to very vulnerable patients in ICU and then you later hear they died. Sometimes you connect with the patients, and when they pass away, you feel the loss.

How do hospitals react when you request to do the therapy? 

We make a request and give demonstrations. The management saw its advantages and allowed us. Other hospitals later adopted it.

What is your ultimate goal?

 I wish to make a difference in society and keep using my gift to do good deeds. I feel satisfied this way.

What motivates you? 

Life motivates me - the urge to make a difference, make a better life out of what my parents offered me. Making someone smile and happy makes me happy, too. I also love the smiles we put on the faces of patients and the happiness they experience when we play their favourite tunes.

How did your parents feel about your choice of career? 

My dad was very supportive. He always told me to go for it and “paint the town red” were his words to me. Mum has always been skeptical about it. Lately, she has accepted that that’s what I was born to do.


Share this story
Uganda, Tanzania farmers feeding hungry Kenyans
What we get from Kenya is just sukuma wiki and kunde. The rest such as eggs, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, simsim and groundnuts come from Uganda.
Kakamega chicken thieves using 'mysterious powers'
"We have changed our guards many times but the trend appears to be going on, we suspect those behind the theft could be using mysterious powers."