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Oldies turn out to be goodies

German author Berthold Auerbach said, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

These are words Abdul Karim, manager at Melodica Music Store on Tom Mboya Street, identifies in running his business.

He said African music was a beat and sound of its own.

“We are all connected to its being so when you hear the rhythm, just follow your instinct,” said Mr Karim whose shop stocks old secular music.

Beats of African tunes are what draw passers-by to the shop that stocks music on cassettes and CDs. Mr Karim also sells traditional music instruments. 

The history of Melodica starts in 1971. It remains the oldest producer of East and Central African music in the region. Mr Karim said the old songs are for those who appreciate authentic tunes.

Some of the musical instruments sold include the guitar, kayamba, tambourines and drums.   

Most of the music at Melodica is by artistes who recorded and produced songs as early as the 1950s and whose tunes, Mr Karim said, have survived the test of time. 

Music genres available include benga, rhumba, twist, omotibo, sukuti and taarab.

“At times, I don’t need to understand the words in the songs. As long as the instruments and tunes are sweet, they make me appreciate and dance,” he said and adds that there is a huge market for old music.

Clients who cannot visit the shop can make their orders online after going through a catalogue provided. 

For only Sh250, a customer can order music by bygone greats such as Daudi Kabaka, Fanuel Amimo, Gabriel Omollo, George Agade, David Amunga, Joseph Kamaru, Isaiah Mwinamo, John Nzenze, Mbaraka Mwinshehe and the Lipua Lipua band.

While there is a price tag to downloading music from the store, some tunes are offered for free to attract more customers.

So in touch is Mr Karim with his business that he takes time to enlighten clients of the whereabouts and history of the artistes whose music they choose to buy.

He said managing a family business was no mean feat as failure could have damaging effects that could last for generations.

“That is why I sacrifice everything to the business. Occasionally, I engage the services of young upcoming musicians to broaden my customer base,” he said. 

Like any other venture, Melodica Music Store has its high and low moments. The low season is between February and March. Mr Karim said it is the time his customers are paying school fees and other debts. 

Above all, Mr Karim said passion is what makes a business successful as it gives the strength to wade the waters during tough times.