Sam Chege

Sam Chege is one of Africa's most educated musicians. The leader of the dance band Sam Chege's Ultra-Benga, Chege holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Nairobi and is working toward a master's degree in African public policy at the University of Iowa. In addition to his work as a musician and bandleader, he has written about Kenyan music for several publications and went on to focus on politically oriented issues. Raised by his grandmother in rural central Kenya, Chege was immersed, as a child, in the music and oral tradition of Kenya's largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu. He recorded his debut 1996 album, Kickin' Kikuyu Style, with street musicians and singers from the University of Nairobi. The album featured songs about suicide and domestic violence set to a melodic blend of Swahili taarab, South African kwela, and Congolese soukous over Kenyan benga rhythms. ~ Craig Harris

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