"To Kenyan Youth Eric's the greatest" (Nation Newspapers April 1999).
Eric Wainaina is taking East African music to new heights. His influences include local Kenyan musicians and artists of world renown like Paul Simon, Papa Wemba, Youssou N'dour and Lokua Kanza.
His music is a blend of Kenyan Benga rhythm and East African guitar styles with Western Harmony.
He toured Europe and the U.S. several times. His performance at Kenya's 'Beats of the Season' in December 2000 was watched live by 15,000 fans and broadcast nationally.
In 2002 got nominated for the highly acclaimed 'Kora Awards'. His live performance was broadcast to 400 million viewers in 78 countries. That night he took home the trophy for Best East African artist.
His album "Sawa Sawa" is continuing to receive daily airplay in Kenya since 2001.
He began his career with the gospel A Capella group '5 Alive' in 1992 who were instumental in paving the way for Kenya's fledgling modern music industry.'5 Alive' toured Switzerland, the UK and Northern Ireland and opened for Barry White and 'The Pasadenas' in Nairobi,Kenya in 1995. The group disbanded in 1997.
After the 1998 bomb blast at the US Embassy in Nairobi, Eric's tune 'Kenya Only' was adopted as the unofficial song of mourning and received extensive radio and T.V. airplay. He performed the song on national T.V. in the presence of the President and the former First Family on the occasion of the commemoration of the death of Kenya's first president.
In 1999 Eric started working together with producer Christian Kaufmann on a recording project called 'Sawa Sawa', an endeavor that would change the Kenyan musical landscape forever.
His adaptation of a Kikuyu folk tune 'Ritwa Riaku' has been added to the playlist of every radio station in Kenya.
He received the MNET (South Africa)favourite male vocalist Award in February 2001.
Eric Wainaina's career has just begun and his reach will be far and wide.He is truly a man to watch.
'Sawa Sawa' is Eric's solo debut. It is a culmination of 3 years of writing. It features several collaborators including the producer and co-writer of the record, Christian Kaufmann, Salmon Kitololo, Ali Makunguru and Ben Wainaina.
The record embodies Eric's search for identity in artistic expression. The material is in three languages: Swahili, Kenya's national language, English and Kikuyu and cleverly blends East African rhythm with western harmony.
'Sawa Sawa' the title track of the album is a mid tempo 'pop' tune predominantly in English. Midway through the tune it takes a left turn and heads off into benga with guitar lines that are rhythmic and imaginative.
'Bolingo' has its roots in benga and lingala. Built on three chords it is a dance tune with a happy rhythmic groove.
The album features four spoken interludes written and performed by Kenya's leading comedy act, Reddykyulass. Their content is highly politically charged.
'Nchi ya Kitu Kidogo' is a parody on the atmosphere of corruption prevalent in Kenya's public sector. This song is currently receiving extensive airplay in Kenya.
'Who is to Blame' is arguably the flagship of this album. Written by Eric, Christian Kaufmann, Salmon Kitololo and Ali Makunguru this song marries Ali's mature guitar skill with an amazing vocal performance by Eric and percussion wizadry by Matthias Kunzli and Rich Stein. It is a favorite among the many who have purchased this record.
'Ritwa Riaku' is an adaptation of a Kikuyu folk song.It has received extensive airplay in Kenya over the last two years.
'Usiku was Manane' is a guitar-driven tune highly reminiscent of Paul Simon's Graceland.
'Daima' is the Swahili version of 'Kenya Only'. It is a pacesetter as far as combining an African vernacular language with full orchestration.
'Mashaka' is the oldest song on the record. Written 8 years ago for 5 Alive, Mashaka became the groups most loved song. It is a dance song in English and Swahili and always gets a crowd going.
This record is a great success and will soon be recognised on a worldwide scale for its excellence.
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