D.O. Misiani and Shirati Jazz - CD
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The King of History: Classic 1970s Benga Beats from Kenya (Stern's Music)

D.O. Misiani and his band, Shirati Jazz, did not invent benga, the energetic dance music of the Luo people of Kenya and Tanzania, but they were the ones who defined its modern form, with its hypnotic electric guitars and fabulously active bass, and made it popular throughout East Africa. Their records, released internationally in the late 1980s and early 90s, introduced benga to the world. Because of benga, D.O. Misiani, who was born in Tanzania in 1940 and died in Kenya in 2006, is probably now the second-most famous Luo in the world. (The most famous? That would be the American-born Barack Obama, whose father was a Luo from Kenya.)


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Misiani was a guitarist, singer and songwriter. He wrote songs on all kinds of topics, not least love and politics. Both of those topics got him into trouble. His love songs necessitated his hasty departure from his hometown when he was 20. His political songs got him jailed in Kenya and deported back to Tanzania. But he remained undaunted and unsilenced, and every controversy added to his legend and spread his fame. When European and American “discovered” contemporary African music in the 80s, D.O. Misiani & Shirati Jazz were the East African band that attracted the most attention.

Those albums have been out of print for years, but benga has never faded away and D.O. Misiani & Shirati Jazz are unforgettable. Following World Defeats the Grandfathers, a CD of Swahili rumba by Issa Juma & Super Wanyika released earlier this year, Sterns ARC presents The King of History. Compiled and annotated by East African music authority Douglas Paterson, this CD comprises a selection of hits and rarities recorded by D.O. Misiani & Shirati Jazz in Kenya in the 1970s. Long live the King of History!

  • Giko Piny (End Of The World
  • Wang Ni To Iringo (This Time)
  • Kiseru (Name Of A Village)
  • LK The Pretty
  • Safari Ya Garissa (Journey)
  • Mary: Part 1
  • Mary: Part 2
  • Ngeruok Joshirati: Part 1
  • Ngeruok Joshirati: Part 2
  • Simaya Chunye Oketo (Simaya)
  • Jaa
  • Harusi Ya MK (MK's Wedding)
  • Christina Jaber (Christina)
  • Sheroline

  • Other recordings you might like:

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    Issa Juma & Super Wanyika
    World Defeats the Grandfathers

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    various artists

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