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Eric Wanaina: Best Kenyan Afrofusion Artist of the Decade?

 


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Eric Wainaina is a popular Nairobi native who truly exemplifies the word “eclectic. ” His early passion for music happened by chance, when a gift intended for his brother – a piano – fell into Eric’s 4-year-old hands instead. And thank goodness it did. Wainaina’s wide influences include everything from ABBA and Paul Simon to Youssou N'Dour and Papa Wemba, thanks largely to Nairobi’s place as a crossroads for several musical styles.

In the 90’s, he earned massive popularity in Kenya while singing in the gospel acappella group Five Alive. The experience inspired him to study music, and in 1997 he enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston. His incredible talent and performances while enrolled launched his musical career after he graduated, with honors; his debut album “Sawa Sawa” was released in 2001 and earned wide praise. He has also received several nods from the KORA All Africa Music Awards, including an award for Best East African Artist in 2002.

It is therefore a very effective argument that this guy is the best Kenyan afrofusion entertainer of the last decade. His hard hitting songs with social themes that look at the plight of the poor people in Kenya earn him massive points. His popularity has hardly died down since the nineties and the fans still appreciate his past anthems against corruption and catchy sound and rhymes.

"If you're not playing at home for the people you write the music for, then you're off the mark!". This was Eric Wainaina's comment to a CNN journalist interview which shows the kind of dedication he puts into his work. He has three critically acclaimed studio albums; Sawa Sawa (2001), Twende Twende (2006) and Love and Protest (2001). He has produced a number of chart topping singles such as Nchi ya kitu kidogo (2001), Kenya only (1998), Ukweli (2003) which endeared him fans and foes alike.

So far he has garnered the coveted MNET (South Africa) award for favourite male vocalist in February 2001 and Best East African Artist at the pan-African 7th Annual KORA All Africa Music Awards on 2nd November 2002. He had been nominated for another KORA Award in 2003, and in 2005 he received his third Kora nomination, this time for the prestigious Artist of the Decade award. At the 2007 Kisima Music Awards Eric Wainaina won three categories: Afro-fusion, best song and best video from Kenya.

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