The Creative Band Kenya is an Afro-Benga musical band that is based in Obunga, Kisumu City. Their name is self-explanatory; it tells the story of a creative group of individuals with a passion for music who came together to create a fusion of Benga and modern musical sounds. The group thrives on being authentically different. They want to modernize the Benga sound and own it.
The groups’ vision is to be the cultural ambassadors of the lake region through recording and performing unique songs that tell the stories of the culture and experiences of the Lake People and Kenyan people as a whole. They hope to use their music to educate and spur a socioeconomic change among the youth in Kenya.
The Creative Band Kenya is made up of 3 vocalists; Alex Bob Ogolla, Stanley Otieno and Allan Omondi including instrumentalists, Group Manager, Creative Director, Artist Coordinator, and a mentor.
The Creative Band Kenya was formed when the 3 vocalists were spotted by the organizers at a popular art and music event in Kisumu City; “Poetic Hour” managed by Talent Industry. This is an event that features live music, poetry, and spoken word. The rich vocals of the trio endeared them to the event organizers and this is how they were discovered.
The Creative Band Kenya has grown in leaps and bounds; they have performed in many shows sharing the stage with popular artists such as Collo, Oliver Mtukudzi, Suzanne Owiyo, Sauti Sol, Makadem, Winyo, Diamond, Erick Wainaina, Henhouse Prowlers (from the USA). They have also performed in various corporate events including the just ended IAAF U18 World Championship at Kasarani, People of The Nile Festival, Dalafest, It’s BIG Launch, #FightAgainstInequality event in Nairobi, The Luo Festival, Poetic Hour Battle, Art@Heart Gala, Live and Die in Africa Tour in Kisumu as well as events aimed at creating awareness on human rights organized by various human rights agencies, including Amnesty International and ActionAid.
The group’s musical sound is largely influenced by Benga but other influencers include Collo aka Collins Majale who the group describes as “a great talented musician who is down to earth”, Oliver Mtukudzi, “a world celebrated artist who celebrates and is proud of his African identity”, the group also admires his artistic originality, he performs songs in his native language. They are also influenced by the camaraderie of Sauti Sol who have stuck together through the good and the bad.
It has not been an easy journey for them, they have faced many challenges. It was difficult for their families to accept their careers as performers; music is not viewed as a real profession. Many artists use drugs and alcohol to get motivated and psyched up for shows and it was very hard for them to convince their peers that their inspiration comes from God.
They also faced financial difficulties to pay for studio time, rehearsal space, video production, branding and marketing and this slowed down their progress. Kisumu City also lacks a space where artists can rehearse and so the space has to be rented.
Despite all these challenges, The Creative Band Kenya is optimistic about the future of the Kenyan music industry. The advent of the internet has increased the exposure of artists who don’t have to rely on mainstream media to get their content out there. Many Kenyans can now access content including music straight from their smart phones.
New technologies such as live streaming apps have given artists new avenues to earn additional revenue. The level of audio and production has also significantly improved; artists can now create world class content at cheaper rates compared to the past.
Some of the changes that the band would like to see implemented include:
Alex: “Mainstream TV and radio stations, public places, DJs should play 100% local content. We must build ourselves.”
Stanley: “Our own (Kenyan) sounds should be given priority and pushed at all levels. Kenya is rich in various sounds which is diverse and unique.”
Alex: “Only qualified and satisfied producers should be allowed to do audio production, mixing and mastering.”
Allan: “Establish our own style of music that the rest of the world can copy unlike the current situation where its Kenya on the receiving end –copying.”
In terms of international collaborations, the band would like to see Jay Z performing on a Benga tune; the CBK sound. The Creative Band Kenya’s future outlook is to become a household name in the African continent. They would also love to nurture and be a stepping stone for upcoming artists to get a place in the competitive Kenyan music industry.
Their word of advice to aspiring musicians; be God-fearing, be humble, be disciplined and hardworking and have a long term strategy on how to achieve your dreams.
You can get in touch with The Creative Band Kenya through their social media handles:
Youtube: The CBK Music
Facebook: The CBK Music
Youtube: The CBK Music
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The CBK Music will be having a gig on Saturday 29th July 2017 at the GoDown Arts Center from 3PM. Please come and watch the electric performance from the team.