What you need to know:
- The talent search is the brainchild of local MP Joseph Nduati Ngugi.
- The talent shows will culminate in gala performances by the winners during the Gatanga Night to be held on November 9 at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi.
Veteran musicians Daniel 'DK' Kamau, Peter Kigia, Timona Mburu, John Dematthew and Kariuki Kiarutara have one thing in common — they all come from Gatanga Constituency in Murang’a County. Gatanga is considered the cradle of music in central Kenya.
Now, the veterans are on a mission to groom a new generation of singers and have been holding talent shows across the constituency over the past few months.
Other artistes from Gatanga are gospel singer Sarah Kiarie, popularly known as Sarah K, Kimani Thomas and secular musicians Gachibi wa Thuo, Wamumbe and Joseph Muruaru.
The talent search is the brainchild of local MP Joseph Nduati Ngugi.
The talent shows will culminate in gala performances by the winners during the Gatanga Night to be held on November 9 at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi.
The last Gatanga Night was held in 2012 under the patronage of then Gatanga MP, Mr Peter Kenneth.
Arrangements for this year's event have been more elaborate as the organisers have had more time to prepare.
“We are looking forward to having the top artistes also attend and perform during the Gatanga Night," Gatanga MP Joseph Ngugi said.
The wards in which the talent search contests have been taken place include Ithanga, Kihumbu-ini, Kariara, Kirwara and Mugomoini.
The finals will be held on October 21 ahead of the Nairobi event in November.
Plans are also underway to establish a recording studio to be used by the artistes from the county.
Speaking to the Saturday Nation, DK said he was happy to be part of the team grooming young musicians
“It has been a long musical journey for me and other veteran musicians from the constituency and we felt encouraged to team up and grow new talent," he said.
DK, aged 69, is marking his 50th anniversary in music this year. He made his debut on the music scene in 1968 with a patriotic song in praise of the founding President titled Kenyatta wa Muigai.
His earlier popular love ballads include I love You (1970), Kanini (1975), Ningwite Nawe, Kiss ya Wendo and ZK Were.
Backed by his The Lulus band, DK toured various parts of Kenya and Europe.
“Though I didn’t get an opportunity to perform during a major concert in Europe, I went there to try and broaden my musical skills," he said.
DK, who was known for his striking stage show attire, also owes his success to music guru Joseph Kamaru.
“It was Kamaru who gave me encouragement in recording and producing my music," he said. Kamaru, who comes from Kangema, also in Murang’a, is revered for producing some of the leading musicians from central Kenya such as Simon Kihara Musaimo and Queen Jane.
Kamaru is recuperating after having been hospitalised recently. DK, who is also a politician, had stint as a councillor in Gatanga. Another leading proponent of benga music from Gatanga in the 1970s was the legendary John Ndicu of the Cucu wa Gakunga hit song fame.
In a recent interview, Timona Mburu said he was happy about the search for new talent.
“Ours is to encourage young musicians from Gatanga to be able to excel in their various styles,” Mburu said. He is best known for benga hits such as Wi sumu and Guruneti.
Also playing a leading role in producing new artistes from Gatanga is veteran singer, composer and band leader Peter Kigia (wa Esther), who is known for his hit song Reke Tumanwo.
Like most of his counterparts from Gatanga, Kigia has also been dedicating much of his time to identifying and honing the skills of younger musicians.
“I am looking forward to performing during the forthcoming Gatanga Night to show the young ones how it is done," he said.
His other popular songs include Gacheri, Njeri Gaitu, Dedication Yaku and Nairobi Weekend.
After making his debut in music production in Nairobi, Kigia later relocated to Thika Town.
Also in the front line among the Gatanga greats is versatile singer John Demathew of Peris Nduku, Njata yakwa and Menye Menye hit songs fame.
Others expected to perform include Gachibi wa Thuo and Wamumbe. Gospel songbird Sarah Kiarie of Liseme gospel hit song fame has also taken part in previous Gatanga Nights. Other popular songs by Sarah include Niinue, Usiyeshindwa and Unaitwa Jehovah.