Safaricom International Jazz Festival: Great Music For A Good Ghetto Classics Cause

Some of the students in session at Gheto Classics


Some of the students in session at Gheto Classics
Some of the students in session at Gheto Classics

Preparations for the 2015 Safaricom Jazz Festival have already started with the Jazz evenings. Following a successful inaugural Festival early this year with Cameroon Jazz Bassist Richard Bona, The festival organisers have started the Jazz Festival evenings  featuring Nigerian born, multi-award winning jazz guitarist and singer, Adekunle Ayodeji Odutayo popularly known as Kunle Ayo. The Concert will be on Thursday 4th September at the Carnivore.

Kunle has earned several musical accolades including a Kora Award in the Best Male Artist (West Africa) Category in 2004 and a Channel O Award in the Best Jazz Video category for his hit single Slowly But Surely. He has been compared to giants of the contemporary school like George Benson, Earl Klugh and Jimmy Dludlu. The critically acclaimed guitarist has also shared the stage with international acts like Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum, Al Jarreau and Jonathan Butler.

The Safaricom Jazz Festival is a benefit concert with proceeds going to the Ghetto Classics programme. Started in the year 2009 by Elizabeth Njoroge- a classical music performer and a director of the Art of Music Foundation , Ghetto Classics is a community programme that involves over 300 children in Korogocho – one of Kenya’s biggest slums.

The project’s purpose is to use music to change the lives of youth living in the slums. By giving them the opportunity to study classical music, the programme instils different necessary skills and values. The children now have an alternative and positive hobby that keeps them away from the vices usually found in the slum such as drug use, prostitution and crime. Their school grades have also improved and the programme has had a positive impact on their general outlook on life. It has shown them that there are many options open to them in life despite their poor backgrounds. Here is a lovely gallery of some of the children and their instruments.

Ghetto Classics were the beneficiaries from the first ever Safaricom Jazz Festival held in February 2014. Richard Bona’s headline performance raised a total of Sh4.5 million. This generous donation enabled Ghetto Classics to give their main tutor and organizer a year’s contract so that he can concentrate full-time on Ghetto Classics. They were also able to repair old instruments and purchase new ones as well as much needed music books and accessories such as reeds and valve oil. and recruit more teachers who are trained to specialise in various instruments. The children were also able to participate in the Kenya Music Festivals in Mombasa. They performed exceptionally well, even emerging top in a category where they were pitted against private school giants, Makini and Riara.

The Ghetto Classics programme offers mentorship to the next generation of classical performers as the young musicians benefit from tutors from the Kenya Conservatoire of Music. Their brass band is becoming a vital part of the Korogocho community as they regularly play at community events such as weddings and festivals.

Kenya’s own Kavutha and Jacob Asiyo will be the curtain raisers at the event. Tickets are 2000/- and are available via M-ticketing by dialing 1511. You can also get them at select Safaricom shops – Galleria, Junction, Moi Ave, TRM; as well as at The Michael Joseph Centre. Gates open at 6.30pm and the show starts at 7pm.

You are invited to a night of great jazz all for a good cause.

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