The message of peace and unity reverberated at the August 7th Memorial grounds in Nairobi when Harvard University’s signature jazz a cappella group Din and Tonics performed as part of the July 4th celebrations.
They were joined by the team from Kenya Girls Chorale and the Spellcast Media giving an intercontinental vibe to the event.
The event was filled with a repertoire cocktail of melodies from different parts of America including Massachusetts and New York featuring classic jazz and other classic songs with a playful rendition that brought warmth to a chilly Nairobi afternoon.
There was lots of energy in the vocals and animation that the skies responded, clouds giving way albeit reluctantly to warm sun rays.
'All of Me' brought the theme of love, care and a pinch of sorrow -- originally written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons.
“Your goodbye left me with eyes that cry. How can I go on dear without you? You took the part that once was my heart. So, why not take all of me?” went the song as it gave somber memories of the over 250 victims of the August 7 bombing.
'Lullaby of Birdland' didn’t make the audience dose off though. It was more serenading occasionally playful making a delight of this number composed in honour of a Jazz Club in the city of New York by the name Birdland.
The toast of the day was 'Sh’Boom', an easy sing-along.
The song is soft and persuasive with the persona in the song hoping that his love was faithful to him. The jealous lover says if this were true then life would be a great dream.
“We have sung this song since the group was founded 43 years ago and we have performed it everywhere we have gone,” explained Din and Tonics Director Karalyn Joseph, a recent graduate of the Ivy League university.
There was also a folklore presentation about witches from Massachusetts that brought an eerie Halloween atmosphere.
Other members of the group who came to Nairobi included Samwel Zickel (President), Matheas Carpenter, Samson Mostashari, Hannah Alton, Jay Hong Chew, Elio Kennedy-Yoon, Noah Gold and Felix Yeung.
Earlier the combined vocals of Spellcast Chorus assisted by Kenya Girls Chorale under the directorship of Andrew Tembo, Judith Koki and Sheena Kadu did the needful by opening the stage with Kenyan and other African tunes.
'Niwara Nono', a Dholuo gospel depicting humility and gratitude was rendered in beautiful Dodo dance steps with the soloist Sheena Kadu proving that she has a divine voice.
According to the US Embassy Cultural attaché, Chris Machin the joint performance is aimed at facilitating and promoting direct cultural experience and expertise between American group and the Kenyan ones.
“Part of my job is being able to find those cultural reference points like music and the feeling that the music brings to you that can help bring people together from Kenya and the United States and anywhere in the World no matter what language you speak because of the power of the arts and music,” said Mr Machin at the end of the concert.
He noted that such cultural exchanges were crucial in building relationships and friendships between people and could prevent atrocities and bring peace to the world.
“We are here to share love and peace and it has been a truly artistic moment to share a stage with the renowned Harvard's Din and Tonics today,” remarked Koki who together with Tumbo announced the two musical groups will be staging a concert at the Braeburn Theater at the end of this month.
The Kenyan groups were grateful for the exchange saying they took very good lessons home with Tumbo saying the experience was ‘immeasurable’.
According to Karalyn she is open to future collaboration work with the Spellcast Chorus or other Kenyan groups in the future.
“It was such an amazing experience listening to such a talented group of Kenyans sing,” said the director, who appreciated their Nakuru tour before the Nairobi concert.