The rise of the religious music industry in Kenya: Gospel from roots to rap

Afropop Worldwide, December 18, 2008

Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. Missionaries and nationalists rubbed shoulders in Kenya as early as 1906, when Kenya was a young, British colony. Christianity has long been closely allied with local, cultural expressions: however, it was only with the spread of radio in the 1940s that choral makwaya groups began to be heard by mass audiences. Hymns, arranged in 4-part harmony and translated into African languages, mark the humble beginnings of what has become a robust industry in Kenya. Today, Christian-themed music dominates the country, from traditional drumming and singing, to Kenyan country music, to guitar band pop, to reggae and rap.  Our guest on this program is author and ethnomusicologist Jean Kidula. Kidula will trace Kenyan music’s development from the 1940s to the present, placing rare and unavailable musical examples from her extensive collection in historical context. Produced by Siddhartha Mitter.