Chants Sans Frontieres culminates more than 10 years of cross-cultural song writing and performance by American development worker cum musician Markus Kamau. Starting as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, his work has taken him all over the continent building the solar energy industry. His passion for African music has put him on stage with lingala, rock, ndobolo, reggae and traditional artists and he has absorbed influences and built up a fluency for African pop that few Westerners ever achieve.
In “Chants”, he composes songs in Swahili, East Africa’s lingua franca, and raps with the a deep expressive voice reminiscent of Manu Dibango. Leading the Boda Boda Band, he fuses rock and roll hooks and chord changes with soca rhythms, Congolese ndombolo guitar and Maasai chanting. And it works!
Part of the attraction of this CD is the excellent musicianship of Boda Boda band and the guest artists, a who’s who of Nairobi players. Listen to Kora-award winning Eric Wainiaina singing Kamau’s Pole Pole. Hear David Otieno playing an African flavour of rock guitar as fluid as Carlos Santana’s. Take in Abby Nyinza’s vocals on Vicky or Burundian drummer Kidum’s duet with Kamau on Mama. Hear the eerie flavour of producer Rober Kamanzi on Taswira. Or Idi Achieng’s back-ups on Fight No More Forever.
Kamau’s song writing, whether it be in Swahili or English, tells real stories about Africa from the vantage of someone who has been on the ground, understood and can bring it back home.
Markus Kamau may be a rocker --- but he is an African rocker.