Rarely does one have the privilege of being in the presence of unashamedly God-worshipping musicians who have mastered their craft, won countless awards and accolades, toured the world, mentored other musicians to greatness, and still express themselves in a down-to-earth way that speaks humility at all levels. Mine was last Thursday as I soaked in Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown, Gerald Albright, Shelea, Kevin Whalum and John Stoddart perform alongside Kenya’s AfroSync Band.
His energy on stage is infectious and his music continues playing in your head long after it’s over. He is one of Kenya’s greatest entertainers and comes top of my list, together with The Villagers Band. Missing an opportunity to see him on stage is something I’d regret so even if it was a Sunday evening after a busy weekend out of town, I had to carry my tired body to City Hall Way for Juliani’s Na3 Concert.
When I started out in photography about nine years ago, concerts were I clicked the most. The opportunity to interact with great performers live and move freely yet discreetly at concerts kept me going back for more. Then career happened and with that, other projects, sending concerts to the backseat. This year, I want to WD40 the rust in my concert trigger finger and get back to my first love. So when I saw the Jonathan Butler billboards and heard the Mavuno Worship Team perform their rendition to ‘Falling in Love with Jesus’, I knew I had to attend the Safaricom Jazz Festival.
I woke up this morning to the news of the passing of Dr Myles Munroe, his wife and others in Bahamas. I usually get sad when I hear of the death of someone I knew, but not this time. There was a sense of celebration in me. Celebration of the life of a man who gave his all to make God’s word understood to me, to know the power I have within me. His greatest lesson to me: Die empty. This is something I believe he did.
I remember this day quite clearly: it was Saturday 17th October 2009; there was an Oliver Mutukudzi concert going down at Bomas and the JAB 82 launch at GoDown Arts Centre; I was torn between the two and I’m glad I made the better choice. JAB’s sound was still relatively new in a country where many forms of Benga dominated the airwaves, so their fan base was small, but very dedicated. Actually, the concert felt more like a gathering of friends of the JAB lead members, Jim Chuchu, Bildad Selanga and Daniel Muli.
Ketebul Music have put together a CD/DVD compilation of Kenyan protest music from the past 50 years that you need to get your hands on. It chronicles music that has been a force of change, from 1963 to 2013. This is the latest of a series of compilations put together with the help of the Ford Foundation that I consider must-haves for any music lover.
Top on my list of spectacular music events this year has been the Niko na Safaricom Live concerts that have been touring the country.
For the #KenyaAt50 celebrations, Kijiji Entertainment were called upon by Safaricom to put together an all-stars edition at the Safaricom Stadium Kasarani on 13th December. Kijiji then called upon me to tell the world how the show was so here goes…
I just got back to Nairobi after the coldest of weekends in Meru. I never knew the place gets so cold! Limuru has nothing on this place I tell you.
I was covering the Niko na Safaricom Live concert for Kijiji Entertainment on Saturday and what a stage production it was! The choreography, sound, lights, performances… everything on stage was just amazing! Six hours ended so fast! 4am came and everyone in Meru was still hungry for more. And they did get it, with a DJ keeping them warm until 6am.
To see more photos, check out Kijiji Entertainment.
Yung Nnoiz. Quite a beat boxer this guy is. He is definitely going places.
Ben Githae is airborne!
Daddy Owen is airborne too!
The crowd was electric!
Not smoke, but the Meru cold!
The Niko na Safaricom Live concert directors had an idea that many said couldn’t be done. We listened to them, planned how to and did it.
Every year, Safaricom promote their brand through countrywide music concerts dubbed Niko na Safaricom Live. They get the top music artists and have them perform in major towns with fans in their thousands showing up to see them live.
For the launch of the 2013 edition at Carnivore Gardens, event directors Kijiji Entertainment had a street theme running, complete with matatus, hawkers, shoe shiners and the notorious CCN askaris occasionally chasing after the hawkers. For photography, they had an idea that others said was impossible to execute. To extend the street experience, Kijiji wanted photos of guests taken at the venue superimposed on city street backgrounds, and delivered the same night of the event. We accepted the challenge and got down to work.
Days before the launch, we took different shots of Nairobi streets at night.
There’s events and there’s experiences; there’s concerts and there’s Niko na Safaricom Live Launch.
We parked our cars at Splash and were ferried in matatus, tuk tuks and boda bodas to the Carnivore Gardens where the launch was taking place. Upon arrival, we were met by hawkers, shoe shiners, newspaper vendors, maize roasters… the perfect representation of Nairobi street life, complete with hawkers running from kanjo! All this for the unveiling of the artists who will be performing during 2013’s Niko na Safaricom Live countrywide tour.
Big up Kijiji and Mo Sound for industry-leading excellence, and big up Safaricom for helping raise the standards in Kenya’s entertainment industry.
The stage setup by Mo Sound was amazing!
What a great dancer she is.
Benjamin Kabaseke. This man… and his guitar… wacha tu!
The blessed Gloria Muliro.
Wise man Kidum.
Daddy Owen – King of Kapungala and son to the King of Kings!
There wasn’t a dull moment with Eric Omondi on stage.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore about to Mpesa me.
I attended my first Aflewo in 2012. NPC Karen was packed to overflowing and we all enjoyed the experience, from sunset to sunrise.
This year, it moved to the more spacious Winners’ Chapel on Lusaka Road and what a wonderful time of praise and worship we had… it was Amazing! And since I didn’t audition to be part of the 700+ member choir, I worshipped using my camera.
It was also quite significant as we ushered Kenya into celebrating 50 years of self rule in prayer. Indeed, ‘Blessed is the nation who’s God is the Lord.’
I totally feel what the Psalmist wrote in 84:10 “One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.”
I can’t wait for next year’s Alfewo!
We started with a very worshipful rendition of our National Anthem.
See what’s happening here?
A very blessed Kaberia.
Winners’ Chapel was packed!
You can see more photos here.
It doesn’t matter what part of Kenya you come from, there is a high-pitched guitar call to which your body answers to.
You may be dressed to the nines and trying hard to impress the lady you are with, or in a courtroom, making the closing remarks on a monumental case. When that guitar calls, you’ll put all your decorum aside as your knees buckle, elbows wing, waist spins and you dive into a jig unbefitting your status in society, complete with closed eyes and spouted lips. After several seconds, you open your eyes worried you might be alone in this, only to find the entire room replicating your every move. This is the call of Benga.
I answered to the call as well as Dan Aceda, The Villagers Band led by Chris Adwar and Eric Wainaina and The Best Band in Africa put together The Tyranny of Benga yesterday.
You can view more photos at KWELi.
I can’t say I knew Maranga much. We did get to meet at a couple of concerts and he was always in a do rag, a camera slung on his shoulder. He had a simple point and shoot when we met at Hillcrest for Blankets and Wine on 7th March 2010 which had grown into a powerful Canon the last time we met at a concert at Alliance Francaise earlier this year. The little interaction we had about photography was enough for him to have a memorable impact in my life. The greatest impact however came with his departure to be with our Saviour.
Maranga’s tribute concert at The National Theatre last evening was full of family, friends and acquaintances who spoke highly of him as a brother, leader, entertainer, editor, director, funny man and above all, son of the Most High. It got me wondering: what kind of influence am I having with my life? Am I serving my God-given purpose? When I finally go home, will God say, “Well done my son. Great is your reward.”
Oh, how I’d like to hear those words. How I’d like you to hear those sweet words.
DJ Sparrxx and I met in July 2007 when doing Mizizi. We were teamed up as prayer partners and we’ve had a high-impact Kingdom friendship ever since.
Sparrxx asked me to shoot his profile pics and I agreed. He wanted something different though. It didn’t take long for us to decide to shoot in a setting that borrowed from his name. We found the perfect location a couple of minutes from his place. We spoke to Oti who works there and agreed to return later in the week.
Come shoot day and Kenya Power had done their thing. We wanted to have sparks flying from the grinder but… Anyway, the shoot went on.
I had fun shooting DJ Sparrxx because he’s easy to direct and pushed my creativity to the next level.
Much respect to the Mo Sound crew for putting together another great event. I can’t wait for Groove to go Africa-wide with the accolades being sought after like Stellars and Doves. And salutations to all the nominees and this year’s winners. It is because of you Kenyan music is flying high on the continent. May the Almighty God increase your influence. And as DK Krowbar said, ‘We are just vessels.’
Shooting at Nairobi Baptist was a challenge initially because front stage was too low. Shooting from there would have given me a worm’s eye view. I found a spot on the right side of the auditorium and shot mostly from there, away from the crowded centre aisle.
Here’s a selection of the photos I took, with a special bias to Juliani. My Canons loved watching him on stage.
The annual Groove Awards hold a special place in my heart for three reasons.
Firstly, no other event held in Kenya has such a professional level of organisation and coordination – hands down. This I believe is because of the prayerful team at Mo Sound. Guys, I can’t wait for Groove to go Africa-wide!
Secondly, while taking photos at the 2009 Groove Awards, a special anointing – I believe from the Holy Spirit – came upon me and I haven’t shot the same ever since. Shooting at Groove for me is like a return to where serious concert photography started for me. A time to reflect at how far God has brought me and meditate on the territories yet to be conquered.
Thirdly, while shooting the 2010 edition for KWELi, we shot and uploaded photos to the Facebook page as the awards went on – this had never been done before! We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the result of great team work.
As we look forward to this year’s ceremony, here’s five of my favourite Groove Awards shots.
Still up there on the list of powerful performances I’ve attended. This was in June 2011.
Hugh commands respect on stage. And takes no nonsense from fans or photographers.
It was a challenge shooting this concert because there were many photographers and the fans sat on the Simba Saloon dance floor right up to the stage. This made the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L my choice lens for the evening.
This week I start a new weekly post called ‘Take 5’. It will feature 5 of the best photos I’ve taken covering different topics, albeit with a bias to music.
Starting us off is Kinanda Arts Festival. A monthly arts extravaganza held in Nairobi.
And because this is a special one, I give you seven and not just five of my favourites.
Nairobi Cinema is a good auditorium for music events though the lighting doesn’t allow you to do much with photography.
So for Acoustic Worship, I had to look for a different angle to tell the story. I’m thankful that the organisers had no restrictions on movements on stage which allowed me to get these shots.