Judith strumming her way too stardom
As the music industry grows, artistes have been forced to become more versatile in order to produce better sound and gain greater following. Unlike in the past, merely following in the style of older musicians will not guarantee success.
Though Judith Bwire is not new on the entertainment scene, her new-found love for the nyatiti has enabled her to stand out from other musicians.
Born and raised in Voi, she first started by dancing to traditional songs at events. She then formed a group called Chatu Dancers which disbanded soon afterwards.
Her dancing career peaked when she joined the famous Kenge Kenge Orutu System Dancers.
The group is widely known for its use of traditional instruments like nyatiti, orutu, buldrums and the nyangile sound box and being part of it enabled her to travel the world. She has toured Norway, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I loved dancing. Being part of an established group like Kenge Kenge was an honour and a dream come true. The group played a big role in developing my singing and dancing career,” she said.
It was while she was at the group that her fascination with the nyatiti began. She had no singing experience but a member of the group, Mzee Nyagweno, encouraged her to learn how to play the instrument.
She produced her first song in 2010 in Luo called Cikhai Malo, which she dedicated to her nyatiti teacher.
“I did so to appreciate him for being being patient with me during all the lessons. I also wanted the song to have more meaning and so I did it in Dholuo,” she added.
Her first album Judith Bwire Mama Africa features the nyatiti prominently in all 11 songs. The songs are a fusion of Luhya, Luo and Swahili and are her own compositions.
“Being a traditional dancer sent me in the direction of traditional singing. My album is about Africa and her riches,” she said.
Bwire gets inspiration from her blind, music-loving aunt. She says her aunt helped her write the ‘Mama Africa’ song in the album.
Although Afro-fusion music still has a long way to go in an industry heavily influenced by western styles, artistes like Judith Bwire are determined to make this genre popular both locally and across the borders.